Ameni Ben Ammar lays out a spread of Tunisian hospitality on the coffee table of her small apartment in downtown Montreal.
Traditional pastries, a homemade cheese chicken pie and Tunisian wine.
Despite having left six years ago, the bond with her North African homeland is still strong.
But she says as much as she misses the Mediterranean lifestyle, for her, living in Tunisia had become untenable.
“I couldn’t handle the changes in my country,” she said, referring to what she describes as a steady progression of religious influence on society, the company where she worked, and even her own family.
Ben Ammar was raised by an atheist father and a mother who was a practising Muslim but didn’t wear the veil … at least until recently.
“She saw that the neighbours wore it, her friends wore it, and said, ‘I don’t want to be the only one not wearing it,'” Ben Ammar said. “She didn’t want to be different.”
Ben Ammar’s mother’s decision to don the veil is just one example of what she sees as her country’s transformation from a secular state to a place where government and religion now coexist, and sometimes clash.
An atheist, she strongly supports the CAQ government’s plan to ban religious symbols such as the hijab for government workers in positions of authority, like police officers, prosecutors and teachers.
“The woman is representing the state and for me the state should be neutral.”
Quebec is home to thousands of Muslims originally from French-language countries in North Africa.
While many have come out strongly against the ban, others, like Ben Ammar, relish the idea of a clear-cut line between church and state after having to negotiate the blurring of those lines in their home countries.
Ben Ammar was disappointed to see such a large march against the law on Sunday as thousands poured into downtown Montreal to decry Bill 21 as discriminatory.
Ben Ammar says the protest, organized by a group headed by controversial Imam Adil Charkaoui, does not represent the views of all of the province’s Muslims.
“Who gave this association that organized the [protest] the right to talk in the name of Muslims here?” she said.
Aunt of mosque shooting widow favours bill
Two people who did speak at Sunday’s protest were Aymen Derbali and Saïd El-Amari, survivors of the 2017 Quebec City mosque shooting.
El-Amari called Bill 21 “racist” and “Islamophobic.”
But that perspective is not shared by someone else whose life was broken by the tragedy.
Zahra Boukersi’s niece Louiza lost her husband, Abdelkrim Hassane, in the shooting.
Hassane was murdered by a gunman, along with five other Muslim men, because of his faith.
Still, Boukersi, who teaches French at Montreal-area private elementary school, does not see the CAQ’s bill as fuelling Islamophobia, but as a necessary bulwark against what she calls “radical Islamization.”
“I have students who see me as a role model,” she said. “I’m not sure what kind of role model these [veiled] women will represent for the young generation.”
Boukersi fears a replay of what she lived through in her native Algeria, where she says as a teacher, wearing a hijab went from a personal choice to a social imposition.
“We thought like you do here,” she said. “That it’s nothing at all, nothing at all. But no, it became a real nightmare.”
Boukersi left Algeria in 1996 during the country’s “black decade,” when Islamist rebels battled the Algerian army for power in a bloody civil war.
She says many North Africans who have lived a similar experience also support Bill 21.
Still, Boukersi feels the law should be modified to allow more flexibility for veiled women who want to become teachers so they don’t end up dependent and marginalized.
“Yes, there are women who wear the veil to proselytize, but there are women who wear the veil because it encourages them to emancipate themselves,” she said.
“This is how they’re going to earn their financial independence.”
As the preachers on television programs continue to preach the gospel of homosexuality the true numbers of white homosexual men are coming out of the closet. There are still many secret homosexuals and/or pedophile men who sleep exclusively with boys that have yet to be revealed. The internet is crawling with white male sexual predators as seen by Chris Hansen and the countless news articles of the white male Catholic Church.
White women have suffered in silence, to uphold white supremacy, and knew exactly what their husbands where doing with other men. She heard the rumors of what happens in gym locker rooms and the jokes of tea bagging. She has been silenced by their authority and power. White women divorce white men by the tune of 80%.
The white male cover is being blown and these men are free to stop pretending they want a white woman. They lead…
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Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir has been ousted and arrested by the military after nearly 30 years in power.
Speaking on state TV, defence minister Awad Ibn Ouf said the army would oversee a two-year transitional period followed by elections.
He also said a three-month state of emergency was being put in place.
Protesters, however, have vowed to stay on the streets despite an overnight curfew being imposed by the military.
Demonstrations against Mr Bashir, who has governed Sudan since 1989, have been taking place for several months.
The protesters are now demanding a civilian council to lead the transition rather than a military one, correspondents say.
“I announce as minister of defence the toppling of the regime and detaining its chief in a secure place,” Mr Ibn Ouf said in a statement.
Mr Bashir’s exact whereabouts are not known.
Mr Ibn Ouf said the country had been suffering from “poor management, corruption, and an absence of justice” and he apologised “for the killing and violence that took place”.
He said Sudan’s constitution was being suspended, border crossings were being shut until further notice and airspace was being closed for 24 hours.
As the news broke, crowds of protesters celebrated outside army headquarters in the capital, Khartoum, embracing soldiers and climbing on top of armoured vehicles.
Sudan’s intelligence service said it was freeing all political prisoners.
Mr Bashir is the subject of an international arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Court (ICC), which accuses him of organising war crimes and crimes against humanity in Sudan’s western Darfur region.
However it is not clear what will happen to him following his arrest.
News outlets say Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has resigned after nearly four months of demonstrations against his autocratic 30-year rule.
Both the Associated Press and Reuters say they have learned from government sources that the 75-year-old ruler will step down and that consultations are underway to form a transitional council.
Reports of al-Bashir’s ouster came hours after Sudan’s state-controlled television said the army will make an “important statement” sometime Thursday, but offered no details about the upcoming message.
Thousands of residents of Khartoum poured into the streets of the Sudanese capital and marched to the headquarters of the country’s military, where protesters have staged a sit-in since last Saturday. At least 22 people have been killed in clashes with security forces, according to activists.
There are reports that army vehicles carrying troops have surrounded the presidential palace, which is on the grounds of the military headquarters. Reuters and the French News Agency (Agence France Presse) are reporting that soldiers have raided the headquarters of al-Bashir’s ruling party.
The protests began Dec. 19, with demonstrators accusing al-Bashir’s government of economic mismanagement that has sparked skyrocketing food prices, and fuel and foreign currency shortages.
Al-Bashir, who came to power in an Islamist coup in 1989, imposed a nationwide state of emergency Feb. 22 in an attempt to suppress the protests after an initial crackdown failed. The government said weeks ago that 31 people had been killed, but the group Physicians for Human Rights estimates the death toll is at least 60.
Al-Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court on charges of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide in connection with atrocities in the western region of Darfur