A week after 50 people were shot and killed during the Christchurch Mosque massacre, hundreds of people from Montreal’s various faith communities showed up at city mosques because they wanted to show their solidarity with the city’s Muslim community. Organized by several religious leaders, Temple Emanu-el Beth Sholom’s Rabbi Lisa Gruschow said that the event was meant to show people that they are not alone, “...and that to the best of our abilities,” they have the community’s protection and support. As word about the demonstration spread through the internet, several hundred people showed up for a morning demonstration in front of a Ville St. Laurent mosque where they joined hands and created what they called “...a circle of peace.”
“I think there are so many of us who want peace, equality and inclusion’ said NDG’s Eva Pomeroy.
Others, including Montreal’s Nazlin Patel, said that they were speechless to see the support from all the city’s various religious communities.
“It means a lot to us,” he said. “It proves that everybody wants peace, unity and love.”
Based upon little more than a single request for support that made its way through the city’s social media, others, including Montreal MNA David Birnbaum, showed up to honor the day’s call for the dead in front of the Belmont St. headquarters of the Canadian Institute of Islamic Civilization that’s located in the heart of the city’s downtown core. Following Birnbaum’s short speech, Montreal Pastor Arlen Bonner spoke about his own experience within the city’s faith community and how “...it’s our common duty,” to denounce the violence and Islamophobia that leads to hate crimes such as the ones that occurred in a Québec City mosque as well as those that occurred in New Zealand.
“We are stronger by our commitment to diversity, equality and inclusion,” said McGill’s Dr. Amal Elsana director of the CIIC. “Thank you so much for being here and for doing what you can to help us honour the dead.”
The Plante administration has decided that the crucifix in the City Hall chamber will be taken down. “It’s meant to recognise, and honor, the secular nature of the municipal institution,” said Mayor Plante.
As it was initially meant to be an executive committee decision, the cross will come down when Montreal’s City Council moves to its temporary premises in the Lucien Saulnier building in order to make way for the city’s three year renovation program in City Hall. The crucifix will not be put up again once renovations are completed. While the mayor considers the decision to be an honest reflection of a truly secular municipal government, city opposition leader Lionel Perez seems to be far more concerned about the lack of any kind of consultation than he is about the decision to take the iconic crucifix off the wall.
“What’s the rush?” asked Perez who went on to explain that the city will have up to three years to figure out what to do with the crucifix.
While the city’s opposition believes that there should have been “...at least, “a minimum of consultation with both city council and other interested parties about the committee’s decision, recent events – including the Christchurch massacre — indicate that the cross is still a powerful and iconic symbol that remains at the heart of the debate over Québec’s ‘reasonable accommodations’.
Despite Pemier Legault’s reluctance to commit to removing the National Assembly crucifix installed above the speaker’s chair in 1936 despite his own lay charter, he said he “understood” Montreal’s decision.
According to Monsignor Pierre Murray – the spokesman for the Assembly of Québec’s Catholic Bishops — the Church has decided to recuse itself from the discussion because it believes it’s a political decision made by the population’s duly elected representatives. However, it does appreciate the Plante administration’s decision to hang the cross in a museum setting where it will demonstrate the city’s respect for its history.
“It reflects our history, and our culture, “said Roy, who went on to say that the bishops approve of the city’s decision to move the cross into its museum.