Flap over turbans on the soccer pitch pits religion vs. secularism in Quebec - New York News

Flap over turbans on the soccer pitch pits religion vs. secularism in Quebec

Updated:

By: Matthew Brown, WorldNow

The short-lived ban of turbans on the soccer pitches of Quebec and the government's pending secular charter are signs a heated debate over religious freedom is brewing in the French-speaking Canadian province, commentators say.

The Quebec Soccer Federation over the weekend reversed its ban on turbans after more than a week of bad press about a rule that primarily targeted observant Sikh players.

Sikhs wear turbans to protect their uncut hair, promote equality and preserve their identity, according to RealSikhism.com.

The federation said its decision was based on safety concerns, although it didn't cite any examples of the risks of wearing the head covering during play.

Commentator Jonathan Kay wrote in the National Post that the turban flap illustrates a disturbing trend in Quebec: "the gratuitous antagonizing of minority communities under the pretext of Québécois 'secularism.'

"It is a highly selective doctrine: The Quebec government has made clear, for instance, that its planned secularism 'Charter' will not be used to go after, say, explicitly Christian symbols in public places. As exemplified by the turban episode - during which (Quebec) Premier Pauline Marois cheered on a plainly discriminatory Quebec Soccer Federation decision - this intolerant tendency within Quebec nationalist circles is an embarrassment to the province."

He concluded that the turban ban likely originated from QSF members who are still irked by a national government decision in the early 1980s that allowed Sikhs serving in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to wear turbans.

The turban controversy moved from the sports and religious arenas into politics when Marois claimed the QSF is autonomous and doesn't answer to the Canadian Soccer Association.

Columnist Don MacPherson of The Montreal Gazette revealed Marois' claim would violate the QSF's own bylaws. But it did create an opportunity for her Parti Québécois to raise its separatist flag and flex its independence from the rest of the country.

"It's a tactic employed by politicians of all stripes, but it is also classic PQ strategy, and it seems to have accomplished what it set out to once again," wrote Michelle Gagnon for the CBC.

As for the Sikh minority, they regret the turban issue even surfaced, but they agreed some positive things came out of it.

"It was an opportunity for the Sikh community to maybe educate people about who we are and on the significance of the turban," Balpreet Singh of the World Sikh Organization of Canada told The Globe and Mail. “It was an opportunity to reach across the boundaries of race and culture.”

Conflicts between Quebec's policymakers and religious leaders, both minority and majority, are likely to continue.

The Parti Québécois government plans to unveil what has been described as a secular charter next fall, an effort to provide rules and a framework on how to manage religious accommodations.

But Rhéal Séguin of The Globe and Mail reported that the so-called Charter of Quebec Values will most likely ignite a divisive debate, given previous government actions involving religious groups and opposition from other other political parties. He describes how the government opposed lifting parking restrictions for a Jewish holiday, but then argued that a crucifix hanging over the speaker's chair in the Quebec National Assembly is justified because the symbol is part of the province's heritage.

The majority Catholic Church isn't entirely happy with the government, either. Quebec's Catholic bishops oppose an end-of-life bill before the assembly that would allow euthanasia.

"We are at a crossroads with this choice," said Archbishop Pierre-Andre Fournier of Rimouski, president of the Assembly of Catholic Bishops of Quebec, according to the National Catholic Reporter. "This is a very important moment for the future of our country, of our society."

More Stories

Quebec soccer leaders cite safety on turban bans

Survey finds religious freedom did not increase during Arab Spring

Rhetoric heats up in debate over proselytizing in the military


Original Post

Copyright 2013 Deseret Digital Media, Inc.

  • Local NewsLocal NewsMore>>

  • NYPD Twitter hashtag backfires

    NYPD Twitter hashtag backfires

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 6:23 AM EDT2014-04-23 10:23:11 GMT
    A NYPD plan intended to better connect with the community seems to have backfired a bit. The police department asked its twitter followers to share pictures of themselves with New York City police officers using the hashtag "myNYPD." Some did share nice pictures, but others not so much.Some of the first pictures posted showed regular citizens standing with very friendly looking police officers.
    A NYPD plan intended to better connect with the community seems to have backfired a bit. The police department asked its twitter followers to share pictures of themselves with New York City police officers using the hashtag "myNYPD." Some did share nice pictures, but others not so much.Some of the first pictures posted showed regular citizens standing with very friendly looking police officers.
  • Caesars enters New York casino competition

    Caesars enters New York casino competition

    Tuesday, April 22 2014 10:52 PM EDT2014-04-23 02:52:22 GMT
    Caesars Entertainment entered the competition to open a casino in upstate New York on Tuesday with a proposal to build a $750 million complex 50 miles north of New York City. The complex would include a casino, a hotel and a meeting space and would be located in Woodbury, in Orange County. The Las Vegas-based Caesars, which operates 52 casinos around the world, has submitted a $1 million casino license application fee to state gambling regulators.
    Caesars Entertainment entered the competition to open a casino in upstate New York on Tuesday with a proposal to build a $750 million complex 50 miles north of New York City. The complex would include a casino, a hotel and a meeting space and would be located in Woodbury, in Orange County. The Las Vegas-based Caesars, which operates 52 casinos around the world, has submitted a $1 million casino license application fee to state gambling regulators.
  • Hoax 'swatting' call sends dozens of cops to LI home

    Hoax 'swatting' call sends dozens of cops to LI home

    Tuesday, April 22 2014 10:43 PM EDT2014-04-23 02:43:53 GMT
    Heavily armed police officers descended on a home in Long Beach, Long Island, Tuesday afternoon thinking they might find a grisly murder scene. Instead they found a terrified woman who had no clue what they were talking about and her teenaged son playing video games. "We received a phone call from a gentleman who stated he had just shot his mother and his brother," Long Beach Police Commissioner Michael Tangney said. "Unfortunately, this is a terrible national problem for law enforcement."
    Heavily armed police officers descended on a home in Long Beach, Long Island, Tuesday afternoon thinking they might find a grisly murder scene. Instead they found a terrified woman who had no clue what they were talking about and her teenaged son playing video games. "We received a phone call from a gentleman who stated he had just shot his mother and his brother," Long Beach Police Commissioner Michael Tangney said. "Unfortunately, this is a terrible national problem for law enforcement."
Powered by WorldNow
Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Ad Choices