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Montréal NDP candidate Dr. Samira Laouni attacked on 98.5FM

September 22, 2008

Montréal NDP candidate Dr. Samira Laouni attacked on 98.5FM

samira_laouni.jpg

Dr. Samira Laouni, federal NDP candidate in Bourassa, Montréal (pictured above), was viciously attacked on Benoît Dutrizac's radio show, broadcast on September 10 on 98.5FM (a summary of the interview was published by the Montréal Gazette).

Laouni, termed "Québec's first veiled federal candidate" by mainstream media outlets, weathered Dutrizac's questioning with calm composure. Interrogated about her marriage, her religious beliefs, and her sexuality, with her measured responses Laouni revealed the deeply Islamophobic, misogynist presuppositions of Dutrizac's questions.

Following the interview, calls for Dutrizac's resignation came from the Canadian Arab Federation (CAF) and the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE). The CAF is also filing a complaint with the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), urging a full investigation of Corus Radio Network (the media outlet that owns 98.5FM), based in Toronto.

Radio Regulations (Broadcasting Act, 1986) forbid the broadcasting of

any abusive comment that, when taken in context, tends or is likely to expose an individual or a group or class of individuals to hatred or contempt on the basis of race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, sexual orientation, age or mental or physical disability.

The interview reached its low-point when Dutrizac asked Laouni whether she knew that under Shari'a law,

"if I were to rape you here today, you'd need witnesses to testify that you weren't consenting?" "I don't want to do it," Dutrizac added.

"I hope so," Laouni said, "It's neither the time nor the place."

"It's never the time nor the place, I think," Dutrizac said.

In any case, Laouni replied, "I am not in favour of the sharia, because - and I can say it loud and clear - it isn't the real sharia; it's an interpretation by men, there are lots of mistakes in it, and women should take it back and re-interpret the sources in our own way and stand up for the rights God gave us."

Media-generated "controversy" surrounding Laouni's candidacy follows on the heels of the media frenzy around "reasonable accommodation," a debate about interculturalism, immigration, and racism waged largely on observant Muslim women's bodies. Debates about "veiled voting," the compatibility of women's rights with religious expression, and conflicts between state secularism and religious public employees elided what were for many the real issues: discrimination in the work-force and rampant unemployment or under-employment of immigrants (Muslim immigrant women in Canada are the most highly educated yet the least employed); racist violence and criminalization perpetrated by Montréal police; harassment and "everyday" racism against "visible minorities."

Laouni participated in the reasonable accommodation debates, first as a member of the delegation of Muslim women who went to Hérouxville for an intercultural dialogue with locals about their much-publicized xenophobic "code de vie," which forbade practices constructed as "Islamic." She later presented a brief to the Bouchard-Taylor Consulation Commission, on behalf of the Canadian Muslim Forum (CMF). The brief, entitled "Société inclusive, citoyens épanouis" (Inclusive Society, Open Citizens), urged an "open secularism," ("une laïcité ouverte"). It can be downloaded here.

The CMF argued that secularism must be recognized as a fundamental value of Québec culture, because it "liberates" public space and effects a separation between "worldly" and religious powers. They argued that secularism also guarantees freedom of religion and of religious expression. But the CMF warned that secularism must not be allowed to become a "radical position," itself transformed into a religion to fight religion:

Cependant, il ne faut pas que la laïcité sombre dans une position radicale et se transforme à une religion pour combattre les religions.

If the recent treatment to which Dr. Laouni has herself been subjected is any indication, the appeal to secularism and the apparent (though clearly superficial) concern for women's rights is also being used as a cover for racist misogyny and Islamophobia.


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Muslim Deception

Muslims are adept at using democratic values of secular society to further their Islamic agenda.

A cursory examination of the tenets and dogmas of Islam will reveal that practise and preaching of Islam are thoroughly incompatible with the demands of a civilised society.

It is not xenophobia to point this out.

Why is this woman wearing a Hijab? Hijab is not a article of dress. It is a flag of Islam. And anyone who is waving Islam in your face does not belong in the representative body of Quebec society.

Khuda Hafiz.

The greatest victims of Islam are the Muslims.

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