Please write your comments on the screening and discussion below
Le documentaire montre bien que les Québécoises et les Québécois n’ont pas fait consensus sur la place de la religion dans l’espace public, notamment sur le port des signes religieux. Je pense qu’il faudra tôt ou tard mener une consultation publique sur cette question et se demander, entre autres, si la solution est de reléguer la religion au privé.
Les séquences sur Hérouxville reflètent l’image d’une société, en l’occurrence la société québécoise, qui est plus ou moins tolérante, plus ou moins ouverte aux personnes immigrantes contrairement à ce que l’on peut penser ou affirmer.
Aménager la diversité aux plans culturel, social, économique et religieux représente un véritable défi pour toutes les nations mais il faut être prêt à relever ce défi pour favoriser le vivre-ensemble dans l’harmonie.
Certains passages du documentaire nous ont fait prendre conscience une fois de plus que les musulmans, en particulier les femmes musulmanes voilées, étaient ciblés dans ce débat sur les accommodements raisonnables. On a été à même de constater qu’il y a différentes positions par rapport au voile car ce signe religieux peut susciter de l’agressivité comme il peut laisser indifférent.
Par rapport aux médias, le documentaire soulève une question intéressante à soumettre aux journalistes : « Est-ce qu’on sait encore couvrir la religion? »
Tout comme Mathieu, j’ai visionné le film en privé en compagnie de ma complice Raymonde Venditti, qui mène une recherche de doctorat sur la religion dans le rapport Bouchard-Taylor. Pouir ma part, j’endosse pleinement la position de Chiara et la suggestion de Mathieur : le livre de Maalouf est devenu une référence pour bien des gens que je connais dans divers milieux, y compris des `collègues deà la Chaire de recherche sur l’immigration, l’ethnicité et la citoyenneté. Je me pernets de signaler que Raymonde Venditti et moi-même avons donné une conférence dans le cadre du Colloque international GREE-AFEC à l’Acfas en mai dernier sous le titre « Les accommodements raisonnables, le vivre ensemble et l’école québécoise », mise en ligne à
J’ai visionné le documentaire récemment, mais en privé (merci de ce privilège!). Le produit est nuancé et amène le spectateur, graduellement, à prendre conscience de l’importance de la discussion et d’entendre les points de vue autres. Le documentaire nous laisse également sur une note un peu moins optimiste, à savoir l’inaction du (des) gouvernement(s) suite au rapport de la Commission Bouchard-Taylor.
Sur une autre note, cette fois plus en lien avec la notion d’identité ethnique / nationale (ou toute autre!), je me permets de suggérer l’excellente petite plaquette d’Amin Maalouf « Identités meurtrières ».
Je n’étais pas présent à la présentation publique, mais j’ai eu la possibilité de visionner le documentaire en privé par la suite. Le documentaire est bien construit, il met en lumière l’ensemble du processus de la commission Bouchard-Taylor et amène le spectateur à réaliser l’importance du dialogue et d’écouter l’opinion de l’autre. En lien avec ce débat identitaire, vécu ici au Québec ainsi qu’à bien d’autres endroits sur la planète!, je suggère fortement la lecture du tout petit livre d’Amin Maalouf, Identités meurtrières.
I wasn’t present at the Feb. 2013 screening of the film, although I participated in a screening done last year at St. James United Church with the director and at a dialogic session with Charles Taylor, both organized by Prof. Cornett. I agree that discussion without “percussion” is an excellent way to foster participatory democracy. For individuals, dialogue with others unlike ourselves is enriching and fosters understanding, empathy and compassion. Such friendships are part of the tapestry binding societies together. However, we must remain vigilant in that our governments must be true to its citizens’ values and principles. At present, we are dealing with the unraveling of business systems based on fraud and collusion in several municipalities; we have a provincial government that was elected because the previous government turned a blind eye to this in an effort, I surmise, to receive political donations and because certain individuals enjoyed personal perks and our federal government, in an unabashed display of contempt for the parliamentary system, our flawed but democratic system, is tabling gargantuan bills which will modify existing legislation and previous checks and balances in an unprecedented fashion, and not necessarily for the common good. “Voir” labeled our Prime Minister, M. “Art-peur” recently, because of the cuts to artistic programs. There have been cuts to scientific programs, Stats Can, libraries , harsher treatment of immigrants and an expansion of our penal system with an emphasis on past wars, the monarchy, unbridled development of fossil fuels and the sale of Canadian companies to foreign investors. This is a “back-to-the-future” scenario. Later this year, the federal government will introduce legislation to permit private land ownership on First Nations reserves. What a great way to bypass public and FN protest of pipeline development! At this point, we don’t need “dialogue”; we need to demonstrate.
Letizia Chiara makes several good points IMO: 1. That debate in _good faith_, even when impassioned and prejudiced, can be better than the bad-faith “Fortress” mentality of Europe (and I would add, of the US “illegal immigrant” smears and in a Canadian example, Point de Bascule). It opens the possibility of learning about others who differ from us in some way, and together recognizing our common humanity. 2. That _taking away_ symbolic artifacts from “them” or “us” e.g. the turban, the veil, the cross, does little to advance mutual respect and understanding, let alone what might flow from that stage. Unless we begin with open-ness, there can be no resolution. And 3. That change from then on is a process, whose finality cannot be predicted let alone legislated. I don’t agree that this must necessarily be described as “case by case”, or “experiments” as if they were a series of exceptions to some greater (majority) good — the process can be guided by some common principles. I think both Nitoslawski’s film, and the Bouchard-Taylor hearings, are examples of this “contingent” process. As the upcoming Truth and Reconciliation hearings will be for native-white relations. We cannot decree the outcome in advance. But we can listen to each other, and discern what might be done. WE should not start by asking how to “accommodate” — an end point. But how to consult (as laid out in UNDRIP’s FPIC). Such a process implies partnership, respect, a search for commonality.
I attended the screening on Tuesday and I found both the film and the discussion amazing. Thank you Director Nitoslawski for your wonderful work, and I extend my thanks also to prof. Cornett and all the participants for such a stimulating discussion.
I appreciated the film for many reasons, one among many was the fact that it reflects the spirit that inspired the Bouchard-Taylor commission, i.e. the idea that in order for accommodation to be built, different and conflicting voices must first be heard and acknowledged; in particular, fears and worries should be freely expressed, so that the underlying assumptions and prejudices about “what the other is” can be clearly seen and addressed (and of course “what the other is supposed to be” is always a way to tell “what we think we are”!)
As a citizen of Italy, where such debates have not taken place (and where right wing politicians have capitalized on fears and racism, using migrants as scapegoats), I am really impressed by the way these issues have been debated in Quebec: I find that there is a lot of courage and solidity in Quebec society to have wanted these debates to happen. Moreover, as Charles Taylor says in the film, Quebec society grew through this debate. I find that dissents, worries, fears, assumptions and ideas about “the Other” must be expressed and responded to, so that they don’t nourish underground racism (as in my country). These debates helped also to realize that generalized and essentialized identities or “cultures” “Muslims” “Quebecers”, or “Canadian culture” (etc.) never correspond to any concrete individual reality, which is always characterised by multiple (and changing) levels of belonging.
I loved this film as it speaks through the people’s own words, giving us, the public, the feeling that we are attending one of the meetings where people expressed their ideas.
The director gives us a lot of food for thought and invites us to listen, reflect, to question, in his own way allowing the work of the Bouchard-Taylor commission to continue.
After viewing this film, many reflections came to my mind, inspired by sociologist Niloufer Göle, and anthropologists Talal Asad and Saba Mahmood, but also based on my research on secularism in an Asian country (I don’t know Quebec society and hope this is relevant).
The first reflection was that secularism is a particular Western Christian European historical development of European modernity; acknowledging this fact challenges the assumption that secularism is a religious-free, NEUTRAL and universal value. That is, secularism cannot be the “container” to accommodate religions, as it is not a universal, non-religious, neutral container.
The very notions of “religious” and “secular” are interdependent concepts, which were mutually constructed as the modern State emerged. Secularism “rearranges” society through the divisions of private and public, religious and secular, assigning religion to the private domain and the secular to the public domain. Mahmood speaks of the ‘normative impetus’ internal to secularism, which has entailed the regulation and reform of religion, giving it its ‘proper place’ vis-à-vis politics.
Given all this, how can liberal states deal with religious subjectivities that exceed their ‘proper place’? Secular consciousness and the derived legal categories cannot meet the challenges of increasingly plural societies where different forms of religious subjectivity ask to be recognised and legally acknowledged.
Moreover, as the history (and narration) of Western modernity is associated with secularization, there is a tendency to postulate the link between the two as necessary and universal. Therefore, we tend to relegate religion to a “past” that should be abandoned by “mature” states and individuals, and tend to consider “religious modernities” as an oxymoron. On the contrary, it is a good starting point to consider that, for example, Islamic piety in this 21st century Quebec is totally MODERN.
While in order to accommodate, an effort of self-reflectivity is expected from all religions practised in Quebec, one should not expect from them an homogeneous process of individualisation, spiritualisation, and reduction to the private sphere.
As Casanova has pointed out, a model of secularity as a public space free from religious arguments, religious symbols and religious groups needs to be rethought.
Indian political scientist Rajeev Bhargava, proposed a model of “ contextual secularism” where the State has secular ends and is institutionally separate from religion, but at the same time can engage with religious issues at the level of law and social policy. Whether the State intervenes in the religious domain or not depends on what strengthens religious liberty and equality of citizenship. This implies that “once and for all” decisions cannot be taken: a secularism of this type should be built trough a contingent and contextual legal reasoning, pretty much through concrete experiments and case-by case accommodation. This form of secularism does not deny that religion can be a social practice in the public domain. In this perspective, is it really a priority to remove the cross from the Mont Royal?
“Given all this, how can liberal states deal with religious subjectivities that exceed their ‘proper place’? Secular consciousness and the derived legal categories cannot meet the challenges of increasingly plural societies where different forms of religious subjectivity ask to be recognised and legally acknowledged.”
Charles Taylor has, of course, lots to say on this topic. He would start by noting that this is an inappropriate understanding fo “secularism” in our context – maybe comprehensible in context of republican France, in Saudi Arabia, or Quebec in the midst of the Quiet revolution – but unhelpful in the 21st century West. He likes the American model of “secualrims” as authentic pluralism which presupposes that then legal and poltuiical system rest on an underlying social/ cultural/ religious consensus. How we arrive at such an “overlapping consensus” is the social/ religious/ cultural and political challenge of our time. What Father John Neuhaus used to call the “naked public square” of late modern liberal democracy just ain’t working any more. It had its inning in the 1960’s but is now very tired. The Bouchard Taylor Commission pushes us in a new and different direction.
Congratulations to Cinema Politica McGill. We had a fascinating dialogue with a lot of great ideas raised and important points made. I encourage you to reflect further on what constitutes our Quebec identity and how we manage it in an increasingly diverse society/world.
Participation and unbridled discussion is the foundation of a participatory democracy. The Bouchard-Taylor Commission demonstrated that Quebec society is able to dialogue very openly. I only wish that this experience would be applied to the summit on education organized by Madame Marois government and led by Monsieur Duchesne.
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