Of Pigs and Prayer

The Selective Outrage of Islamophiliacs

2016-06-23

The seriousness of the recent pig’s head incident in Quebec City has been greatly exaggerated by some. What is just as serious, indeed more so, is the contempt shown by most of our politicians for citizens who are legitimately concerned about radical Islam, thus increasing the likelihood of such mean-spirited, threatening gestures.

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Plusieurs média ont grandement exagéré la gravité d’un événement récent, lorsqu’une tête de porc a été laissée à la porte d’une mosquée de la ville de Québec. Ce qui est aussi grave, encore pire au fait, est l’attitude de mépris affichée par la plupart de nos politiciens à l’égard des citoyens qui se préoccupent raisonnablement de l’Islam radical. Cette attitude augmente la probabilité de tels gestes mesquins et menaçants.

Recently many media have been in a tizzy, doing their best to manufacture excessive outrage over an instance of anti-Muslim mischief. A pig’s head was left on the doorstep of a Quebec City mosque recently. The pig’s head was gift-wrapped and accompanied by a greeting card inscribed with the erroneously spelt (but phonetically correct) words “Bonne appétit.” This was an act of provocation in very poor taste, but no more alarming than a small number of cases of minor vandalism reported over the past few months in various locations across Canada, unacceptable of course, but hardly surprising considering the current political climate.

Indeed this incident was much less serious than other acts of provocation perpetrated by persons who, while claiming to be friends of Muslims in general, are in reality objective allies of extremists (and in fact responsible for the current political climate), acts which were far more “hateful” than the pig’s head incident.

The most disturbing aspect of the severed pig’s head incident is the possibility of violence, unspoken but implied: given such a bloody mess, are other acts of bloody violence thus intended? On the other hand, animal heads are inevitable by-products of food provisionning in our society, so perhaps no violence is implied.

As for the choice of a pig, as opposed to any other animal, this aspect is evidently a dig at Muslim dietary practices which, like most religious practices, are irrational, arbitrary and baseless. So this aspect is hardly disturbing—on the contrary. Furthermore, the fact that this occurred during the “holy” month of Ramadan is also significant, given that the fasting imposed during Ramadan is a major threat to the health and welfare of Muslims and is often used as a way to threaten and intimidate individuals who exercise their freedom by choosing not to fast. Maryam Namazie (see links below) calls it the “heinous, dark month of Ramadan.”

A more subtle aspect of this case is disturbing in a completely different way: I think we can assume that it was an expression of fear—fear of Islam? or fear of Muslims?—and that this fear is partly legitimate. I must stress this point: fear of Islam is not unjustified. That fear has been allowed to fester by the inaction of political leaders, such as Premier Philippe Couillard and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who have taken a complacent approach to radical Islam. Even worse, such leaders have been complicit with fundamentalist Muslims, using the latter as clients to support their political goals, and have unscrupulously accused the fearful of various “sins” such as xenophobia and intolerance.

Finally, this event raises the all-important issue of distingishing radical or extremist Muslims from others. By adopting a very Islamophile attitude, mainstream politicians cultivate a climate of censorship of criticism of any form of Islam, thus stifling necessary debate which would help the public to be better informed and to take a more nuanced attitude. The perpetrator(s) of this incident, for example, were they targeting all Muslims, or only those they perceived as radical? What about the Quebec City mosque where they pig’s head was left: do radical Muslims have significant influence there, or do they not? How can we find out, if politicians tell us that we must simply shut up and say nothing against Islam?


Are you, dear reader, outraged by the pig’s head incident? Perhaps your outrage is rather selective. I have a few questions for you:

Were you outraged when … the Moderator of the United Church of Canada … stupidly accused supporters of a niqab ban of “Islamophobia” … ?

  • Were you outraged when the United Church of Canada recently held a public-prayer event in collaboration with the Muslim Association of Canada? This was an act of provocation more serious than the pig’s head. It involved moderate Christians helping fundamentalist Muslims to invade public space with their religious rituals—rituals which should occur only in places of worship. Worse, the media reported this event in a totally non-critical, indeed approving manner! (You are invited to sign the petition calling on the mayor of Montreal to prevent such events.)
  • Were you outraged when, in December 2015, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made a statement defaming the supporters of Quebec’s Charter of Secularism?
  • Were you outraged when, during the federal election campaign of October 2015, Justin Trudeau, Thomas Mulcair and many others slandered all those who supported a ban on the niqab during citizenship ceremonies?
  • Were you outraged when, during that same campaign, the Moderator of the United Church of Canada, Jordan Cantwell, stupidly accused supporters of a niqab ban of “Islamophobia”, thus spreading the idea that opposing fundamentalism is immoral?
  • Were you outraged during the 2013-2014 debate over the Quebec Charter of Secularism when supporters of secularism where denigrated and slandered as “intolerant,” “xenophobic,” “racist,” or worse by opponents of the Charter who included an unholy alliance between the Liberal Party of Quebec and fundamentalist Muslims?

Running through the above examples is a common thread of opposition to secularism, a white-washing of fundamentalist Islam and a failure to distinguish between fundamentalist and secular Muslims. By secular Muslims I mean those who welcome modernity and secularism and accept to practice their religion—if they practice it at all—in private, so as not to impose it on others. (I prefer not to use the term “moderate” because so-called moderate believers, while personally rejecting the most retrograde aspects of their religion, fail to denounce those aspects definitively, this enabling fundamentalists who continue to practice them and demand privileges based on them.)

For example, granting Zunera Ishaq the privilege of wearing the niqab at citizenship ceremonies as if the niqab were representative of Muslim women’s dress serves to assimilate all Muslims to radical, fundamentalist Muslims, because only the latter promote the wearing of such oppressive clothing. Claiming that allowing the niqab is a “victory” for Muslim women grossly misrepresents who Muslim women are, and is an insult to the many women who have courageously resisted the imposition of the veil in Muslim-majority countries, often at great personal risk.

mainstream politicians, by failing to take clear action against Islamist radicalism … and worse, by showing utter contempt for critics of Islam, fail to reassure a concerned public and instead contribute to the climate of fear …

Most important of all, mainstream politicians, by failing to take clear action against Islamist radicalism—for example, by banning the niqab in official ceremonies, by banning foreign financial support to religious institutions in Canada, by investigating more thoroughly what sorts of discourse are commonplace in Canadian mosques—and worse, by showing utter contempt for critics of Islam, fail to reassure a concerned public and instead contribute to the climate of fear, thus increasing the probability of mean-spirited actions such as the pig’s head incident. Ordinary citizens concerned about religious radicalism have not only been abandoned by our country’s leaders, they have been treated with outright disdain, and this is especially true in Quebec where support for secularism is strongest.

Yes, whoever delivered the pig’s head to that mosque in Quebec City acted very stupidly—but no more stupidly than Justin Trudeau, Thomas Mulcair, Jordan Cantwell and many others. If the pig’s head gifters had instead behaved intelligently, they would have sought co-operation with ex-Muslims and secular Muslims who do not practice Ramadan, together they would have organized a public event involving a feast during daytime in Ramadan, and instead of leaving a pig’s head they would have left a kind invitation to all Muslims, and everyone else, to join in the festivities and partake of the feast in defiance of Ramadan. And on the menu, I would suggest a variety of dishes to please a variety of palates, including, among other meats, a few pork dishes and maybe even some head cheese.


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Next blog: Aphorisms about “Islamophobia” and “Racism”

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