‘Muslim Suburb in Montreal?’

‘Muslim Suburb’ Proposal Has Quebec Politicians In An Uproar

“…non-Muslims will be welcome to live there so long as they share the same values…

“There must be some modesty in the way you dress. We don’t want women living there going half-naked down the streets. We don’t like that. {“Women could choose whether to wear the headscarf but they could not walk around in a halter-top and shorts”} … If they want to do that, let them go and live in downtown Montreal.”


“A proposal to build a Montreal-area housing development aimed at Muslim homebuyers is taking heavy criticism from all three of Quebec’s major political parties…

“Nabil Warda’s plan is to build 80 homes on 100 hectares of land in the south-shore suburb of Brossard. Buyers would be offered Shariah financing, under which the bank officially owns the house and collects “rent”.

“Let us call it a technicality, for me as an accountant, but for the believers it is not a technicality”, Warda, the Egyptian-Canadian behind the idea, told the ‘National Post’.

“But many politicians in Quebec have come out against the proposal, calling it discrimination.

“It’s called a ghetto”, said MNA Eric Caire, a member of ‘Coalition Avenir Quebec’, as quoted in the ‘Montreal Gazette’.

“It’s not acceptable for our society to build a place reserved to religious people. Just think if we built a place reserved for white people, would that be acceptable? The answer is no.”

“Even Premier Phillippe Couillard got involved.

“Discrimination goes in both directions. Inclusion goes in both directions”, he said in the Star on Tuesday. “We prefer housing diversity as much for cultural communities as for religions. It’s fundamental.”

–‘Muslim Suburb’ Proposal Has Quebec Politicians In An Uproar’,
Daniel Tencer, Huffington Post Canada, Nov.16, 2016

“Added Parti Québécois MNA Agnès Maltais:

“It will never be a good idea to select people based on a religion, it’s unlawful. It’s forbidden by the charter of human rights and freedoms.”

“The very same message later came from ‘Immigration, Diversity and Inclusiveness’ Minister Kathleen Weil.

“A project whose vision is implicitly discriminatory toward a portion of the population could never be deemed acceptable”, Weil said. “In this sense, neither ethnic origin nor religious belief should ever be considered as criteria for the creation of a housing project. Living well together depends largely on individuals’ ability to interact and develop positive relationships.”



“‘Radio-Canada’ broke news of the “Muslim housing project” planned for Brossard Monday and, within 24 hours, the three main parties in the National Assembly had denounced it.

“Premier Philippe Couillard, speaking Tuesday in Morocco, where he is attending the United Nations climate conference, worried non-Muslims would face discrimination…

“The proposal to build up to 80 homes became a hot issue in the legislature, where members unanimously adopted a motion Tuesday directing the Minister of Municipal Affairs to inform municipalities that

“no real-estate development can be based on religious or ethnic segregation.”

“’Coalition Avenir Québec’ leader François Legault, whose party is proposing a values test for all immigrants, described the proposal as an affront to Quebec values.

“At a time when restricting religious attire is a recurring theme in Quebec political debate and when some municipalities have blocked proposals for new mosques, the proposed housing project could be seen as a defensive gesture. But Warda said that is not the case.

“I didn’t hear people say, ‘OK, we have to go and defend ourselves against these nasty Québécois by going and living alone.’ That is not at all my motivation”, he said in an interview…

“He said non-Muslims would be welcome to move into his project of prefabricated homes, but they would have to share the values of their Muslim neighbours.

“You don’t drive drunk on the street. If you want to drink alcohol, you drink it in your house”, he said.

“Women could choose whether to wear the headscarf but they could not walk around in a halter-top and shorts.

“But he has heard opposition closer to home, including from the imam of the Brossard mosque, Foudil Selmoune.

“We are here in Canada. We came of our own will”, Selmoune said in an interview. “Our intention was not to come to isolate ourselves from society or from the community.”

“He said it would be more constructive for Warda to use his financing proposal to help Muslims buy existing homes rather than creating a Muslim neighbourhood.

“The social climate in Quebec can be difficult for Muslims, Selmoune acknowledged.

“It doesn’t mean we have to hide ourselves and get away from the challenges we are going through”, he said. “We have to face them.”

–‘Developer behind ‘Muslim housing project’ in Montreal says anyone with shared values welcome’,
Graeme Hamilton, National Post, November 15, 2016



“Plans to build a housing development marketed to Muslim families in Quebec exist only on paper and in the mind of its promoter, but the project has already cast a long shadow over the province.

“The proposed 100-home “Muslim community”, to be located south of Montreal, has provoked fierce reactions among Quebecers, including Premier Philippe Couillard, who said Tuesday that it would undermine the social fabric and diversity of the province…

“But the man behind the project — a 68-year-old accountant who was born a Christian in Egypt, voted “Yes” in Quebec’s 1980 independence referendum, and converted to Islam at age 40 — said his only goals were to help the cash-strapped become homeowners and to construct a happy place with neighbours and greenery for his own retirement…

“The Oct. 13 written proposal for the project that sparked the controversy was sent by Nabil Warda to members of the ‘Islamic Community Centre’ in Brossard, south of Montreal. A formal meeting for interested families will be held this week, although the community centre issued a statement saying that it has no involvement in the project.

“We promote full integration within Quebec society, and we are proud Quebecers and Canadians”, the statement said.

“The project aims to buy 100 hectares of land in the vicinity of Brossard. It says some organizers of the project are already inquiring about obtaining “halal financing”, so that individuals are not obliged to pay interest on a bank loan, which is against some interpretations of Islamic law…

“The written proposal also includes building common spaces for cooking, meeting and prayers, as well as lodging reserved for visitors…

“‘Coalition Avenir’ Québec Leader François Legault, who is a critic of the project and who recently suggested that immigrants to the province should undergo a values test, urged Municipal Affairs Minister Martin Coiteux to give municipalities clear rules to ensure faith-based community housing projects cannot proceed.

“Adil Charkaoui, the Montreal-based co-ordinator of a group that draws attention to discrimination against Muslims, wrote on the group’s Facebook page that there is a double standard when people accept the existence of Chinatown, Little Italy or predominately Jewish neighbourhoods, but demonize a project where Muslims would live together.

“Personally I don’t support ghettoization, but I think that any community has the right to live where they wish so long as they don’t discriminate against others”, he wrote.

“Foudil Selmoune, the imam of the Al-Quba mosque in Brossard, said the backlash risks serving as fuel for religious extremists seeking to bolster their argument that Islam and Muslims have no place in western society.

“Warda said that he was “naive” to not anticipate the criticism that has emerged of his project in a province that has spent a decade debating reasonable accommodations for religious minorities and, just a few years ago, considered banning religious symbols for public sector workers.

“But he also believes that he has been swept up in a political storm that is swirling around the issues of Québécois identity and the place of religion in modern society.

“Had I known that I would have had this reaction, I wouldn’t have said “Muslim” but rather “humanistic” and then nobody would have cared and nobody would have cringed”, he said.”

–‘Plan to develop 100-home ‘Muslim community’ near Montreal gets rough reception’,
ALLAN WOODS, Toronto Star, Nov. 15, 2016



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