It was in relation to complaints of an Imam that Premier Couillard of Quebec was speaking. And I like this guy more and more, Phillippe Couillard, that is.
ST-GEORGES-DE-BEAUCE — Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard said Friday he doesn’t share the Muslim Council of Montreal’s view that laughing at religions should be punished.
Last week, Imam Salam Elmenyawi told committee hearings on Quebec’s proposed hate-speech legislation that mocking Islam was unacceptable.
“When you laugh at my religion, you’re laughing at me, you’re laughing at my wife, you’re laughing at the Prophet,” Elmenyawi told members of the National Assembly on Aug. 20. “If your intention is to protect people, you have to understand that for a Muslim, when you mock his religion, you attack his very person.”
Yes you do. There is no gap between a Muslim and his religious beliefs.They are not a part of him; they are him. It took several centuries of religious warfare in the west to to put some distance between a person’s right to assault you and your disparagement of his religious beliefs. We have by and large achieved this tolerance, and we no longer are justified by law and society for killing people for offending our conceptions of salvation and the revelations we have received from our Gods. In some ways, this is too bad, but for the most part it has brought down the murder rate, and encouraged civil discourse, and allowed progress.
Couillard told reporters at his party’s pre-session caucus in St-Georges-de-Beauce he disagreed with Elmenyawi.
“We’re still listening to people coming to the hearings, but we want to say very, very loud and clear that we don’t want to obstruct freedom of expression in Quebec. Freedom of expression means saying stupid things or even ridiculous things, and then it’s up to you, it’s up to us to say why it’s ridiculous and why it shouldn’t be said, but not to bar somebody from saying this.”
“The line has to be traced in the sand, though, and for us the line is calling for violence. This is what we want to do, this is what we want to achieve and, hopefully, with the hearings we’ll find a good balance,” Couillard said.
Premier Couillard is a former neurosurgeon, who had worked for four years in Saudi Arabia, after being head of neurosurgery in important Quebec hospitals. He quit medicine and ran for office in 2003.
It is my constant complaint that Quebecois do not travel enough; they have not yet appreciated the vast diversity of the world. Many still think the English Canadians are foreigners, as in, really different people. Protestant and all that. Historical enemies, and heretics.
Thus it is significant that Quebec’s current premier has spent time in the midst of Islam, and has come back to run the province. He knows. He quit the medical profession in 2003, was elected and became Minister of Health under Premier Charest, and became Premier in 2013.
I have often maintained that we do not need political leaders to rant about Islam; we need leaders who will firmly rebuff its cultural assumptions, and in Couillard we have found one.
Incidentally, have you heard anything out of Quebec in the past two years? The silence is of Couillard getting the place in order.
He is 58 years old. I can imagine him as the next Conservative leader, or the next Liberal one. It will make no difference.