She Was Right, Quebec is Islamophobic

Graphic by Myriam Ouazzani

A few weeks after being elected as Canada's first special representative on combating Islamophobia, Amira Elghawaby was asked to be dismissed by Quebec’s legislature for speaking the truth.


Politicians criticized Elghawaby for her comments in a 2019 opinion piece in which she legitimately criticized Bill 21. The bill is a racist law that bans public employees in positions of authority from wearing religious symbols; this intentionally targets Muslim women.

"Unfortunately, the majority of Quebecers appear to be swayed not by the rule of law, but by anti-Muslim sentiment," she wrote in her piece for the Ottawa Citizen.

Elghawaby has since apologized for these comments, yet, they still ring true.

From François Legault finding excuses to avoid solidarity with Muslim communities, to requesting her removal only a day after the Quebec City mosque shooting anniversary, Elghawaby’s case is an attestation to the province’s utter neglect, miscare, and outright resentment towards Muslims.

In a 2018 study conducted by the Canadian Review of Sociology, asking Canadians to rate their agreeability with various social groups, it was found that Muslims are the least liked social group in Canada, and the most hated in Quebec.

According to the CBC, “the study found 70 per cent of respondents in the province expressed ‘significant’ anti-Muslim sentiment.”

Almost 60 per cent of Quebecois respondents had much stronger negative attitudes toward Muslims than any other groups mentioned.

Muslims in Quebec, especially Muslim women, face systemic violence, racism, oppression and discrimination, in every sphere of life.

There is no clearer racist double standard than Quebec’s hypocritical stance on freedom. 

When it comes to the defense of free speech and expression in regards to intolerance, hate speech, the normalization of racial slurs and the berating of immigrants, Quebecois politicians are the first in line. 

Ironically, these elected leaders are at the forefront of consistently adopting legislation that forcefully undermines the freedom, security and expression of Muslims and marginalized  communities. 

Quebec’s leaders have done everything right to prove their culpability in this.

This government, its people and subsequently its elected representatives have been the boldest in denying the fundamental human rights of Muslim women and silencing them under a false pretense of secularism. 

Elghawaby is just the latest example.


This article originally appeared in Volume 43, Issue 12, published February 21, 2023.