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Prominent Québecers plead for federal anti-Islamophobia rep to be given a chance

The Canadian Press & Alyssia Rubertucci

Provincial politicians in Québec and Bloc Québecois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet have called for Elghawaby’s resignation for a 2019 article she co-wrote criticizing Québec’s Bill 21 and saying a majority of Québecers appear to be “swayed” by anti-Muslim sentiment.

A letter of support signed by 30 prominent Québecers, including academics, activists, and community leaders, is asking that Amira Elghawaby be given the chance to fulfil her mandate as Canada’s first special representative on combating Islamophobia.
Provincial politicians in Québec and Bloc Québecois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet have called for Elghawaby’s resignation for a 2019 article she co-wrote criticizing Québec’s Bill 21 and saying a majority of Québecers appear to be “swayed” by anti-Muslim sentiment.
“They’re still asking for her resignation today without giving her the chance to exercise her mandate and without worrying about the fight against Islamophobia and racism that is necessary in Québec,” said community activist, Ève Torres. “Instead of focusing on a unifying discourse to fight against Islamophobia and other discriminations, we go after a person.”

The letter acknowledges the concerns raised by Québec’s political class since her appointment last week but underscores her apology and her expressed desire to engage in further dialogue.
“The letter basically is saying that Amira should take the chance to to fulfill the mandate that she was appointed for and that she apologized,” said Ehab Lotayef, community activist.
On Wednesday, Elghawaby apologized, saying she was “extremely sorry” for the way her words had carried and how they hurt the people of Québec.
Among the people who signed the letter are constitutional lawyer Julius Grey, philosopher Charles Taylor and Boufeldja Benabdallah, co-founder of the Québec City mosque where six men were shot in 2017 in an anti-Muslim attack.
“In order to defend the nature of the debate in our society, more and more people do not debate, they just become indignant, especially if some of the sort of generally accepted views of an identity, the type are challenged, they just become indignant,” said Grey. “And that’s not the right thing, you don’t do the hunt to get people to resign because they said something a few years ago, you give them a chance to do the job.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has stood behind the decision to name Elghawaby to the role, saying she is the right person to help Canadians grapple with tough questions about religion.
“If she has offended anyone in Québec, she has apologized and her apology was so heartfelt and she should be given the chance to conduct her work and we will judge her upon what she would accomplish in the coming weeks or perhaps months,” said Samaa Elibyari, Canadian Council of Muslim Women. “I personally believe that she was the best candidate among many good candidates and all of a sudden this backlash against her, we didn’t even give her a chance to prove what she can do.”
The Bloc Québecois going as far as saying they don’t see a need for the position.
“To remove Amira or to even abolish the position in the first place is not logical, it is going to deepen the problem, not resolve it,” said Lotayef. “Let’s focus on the problem, on the issue and let’s be mature.”
The 30 signatories of the letter
Charles Taylor, philosopher, professor emeritus, McGill
Jack Jedwab, president, Association for Canadian Studies
Julius Grey, lawyer, expert in constitutional and human rights
Samira Laouni, Founding President, COR
Michel Seymour, philosopher
Boufeldja Benabdallah, co-founder and spokesperson of the Quebec City Mosque
Linton Garner, activist and community worker
Ehab Lotayef, community activist, poet, IT manager
Anne Lagacé Dowson, freelance journalist and commentator
Frank Baylis, President, “No to Bill 21”
Eric Maldoff, C.M., Ad. E., Partner, Lapointe Rosenstein, Marchand, Melançon
Joel DeBellefeuille, Executive Director, Founder, Red Coalition Inc.
Alain Babineau, Director, Racial Profiling & Public Safety, Red Coalition Inc.
Ève Torres, community activist
Fareed Khan, founder, Canadians United Against Hate
Ndeye Marie Fall, former UNESCO senior official and President, Collectif pour la promotion du patrimoine immatériel en Francophonie (CPPIF)
Miriam Taylor, Independent Researcher, Special Advisor on Community Relations, Metropolis Institute
Lori Schubert, Executive Director, Quebec Writers’ Federation (QWF)
Nargess Mustapha, community activist and organizer
Samaa Elibyari, Canadian Council of Muslim Women, Montreal
Toula Drimonis, columnist and freelance writer
Hassan Guillet, retired engineer and lawyer
Geoffrey Chambers, community activist
Kerline Joseph, Vice President, International Orientation Committee-CIO, Unesco Chair in Women and Science for Development in Haiti
Moayed Altalibi, Islamic organization AHL-ILL BAIT
Andrew Caddell, Language Policy Working Group
Eric Pouliot-Thisdale, researcher, UdeM history department
Éric Émond, philanthropist, interviewer
Mohammed Labidi, Muslim community leader in Quebec City
Susan Pinker, psychologist, columnist



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