Critics: Quebec town's conduct code 'xenophobic'
Published Monday, January 29, 2007 11:11PM EST
Almost everyone living in Quebec's tiny town of Herouxville is white, French-speaking and Catholic. But that didn't stop local officials from adopting a rule of conduct for immigrants.
Included in the code: women should be able to show their faces in public (aside from costumes worn on Halloween), and they should also be permitted to drive and write cheques.
Women should also not be killed in public beatings or burned alive.
Critics call the code ridiculous and xenophobic, but Town Councilor Andre Drouin says he has received about 2,000 e-mails of support -- 700 more than Herouxville's population.
"We have just published a small document saying who we are and what's our standard," he told CTV News.
But some Muslim leaders have called the code a thinly-veiled example of xenophobia.
"Racism is coming out of the woodwork now, and it's not being obscure or subtle," said Salaam Elmenyawi of the Muslim Council of Montreal.
Two hours away in Montreal, commentators like radio host Stephane Gendron have taken a hard-line stance against making too many accommodations for religious groups.
Gendron has criticized acts like glazing over windows at one of the city's gyms to satisfy neighbouring Orthodox Jews, Sikhs being allowed to carry ceremonial daggers, or Muslims having their own prayer rooms in schools.
"We should have zero tolerance for that," said Gendron. "You're just a regular citizen. Religion at home is fine. Otherwise, it's too much."
However, Gendron said Herouxville's code is a step too far.
Jack Jedwab, of the Association for Canadian Studies, said while Gendron may want to distance himself from the code, such commentators are somewhat responsible.
"I think the people who have generated the debate in this particular way are in part of blame for what's happened in this particular town, which has now become a focal point for xenophobia and Islamophobia in Quebec," he said.
With a report by CTV's Jed Kahane in Montreal