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>>

  • Lawsuit settlements reached in Metro-North crash

    Lawsuit settlements reached in Metro-North crash

    Monday, September 15 2014 8:39 PM EDT2014-09-16 00:39:39 GMT
    Four of 28 people who sued the Metro-North Railroad in federal court after being injured in a Bridgeport train crash last year have settled with the commuter railroad.
    Four of 28 people who sued the Metro-North Railroad in federal court after being injured in a train crash in Connecticut last year have settled with the commuter railroad.
  • A history classroom in the real world

    A history classroom in the real world

    Monday, September 15 2014 7:09 PM EDT2014-09-15 23:09:49 GMT
    When Denis Belliveau is teaching kids about Marco Polo, he is in his element. He makes the explorer's journey come alive by taking students on a No. 7 train ride through Queens, New York's most diverse borough. He brings history alive for his students. Along the way the students stop in neighborhoods that mirror Polo's trip. I caught up with the class in Flushing, Queens, which easily resembles China.
    When Denis Belliveau is teaching kids about Marco Polo, he is in his element. He makes the explorer's journey come alive by taking students on a No. 7 train ride through Queens, New York's most diverse borough. He brings history alive for his students. Along the way the students stop in neighborhoods that mirror Polo's trip. I caught up with the class in Flushing, Queens, which easily resembles China.
  • Etan Patz murder confession played in court

    Etan Patz murder confession played in court

    Monday, September 15 2014 6:43 PM EDT2014-09-15 22:43:37 GMT
    A judge allowed a confession tape to be played in court in connection with the case of Etan Patz, who vanished in 1979. On the tape, Pedro Hernandez described how he killed Patz. But his lawyers say Hernandez falsely confessed and doesn't understand his rights. Before Hernandez's videotaped confession was played, Patz's mother quickly left the courtroom unable to watch the video.
    A judge allowed a confession tape to be played in court in connection with the case of Etan Patz, who vanished in 1979. On the tape, Pedro Hernandez described how he killed Patz. But his lawyers say Hernandez falsely confessed and doesn't understand his rights. Before Hernandez's videotaped confession was played, Patz's mother quickly left the courtroom unable to watch the video.
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 | New Terms of Service What's new | Ad Choices