Yellow badges were worn by some citizens recently to protest school buses on the streets in Outremont, a borough in which 23 per cent of the population is younger than 14.
School buses — let that sink in for a moment.
The yellow badges, of course, recall the yellow stars Jews were forced to wear in Nazi-era Europe. Tensions have existed in Outremont between the orthodox Jewish community and non-Jewish residents for some time now; this is not the first time those tensions have flared up.
In a city as culturally diverse as Montreal, it is shocking that something like this takes place in 2018. Even though the protesters wearing the yellow squares denied intentionally offending anyone, it is their responsibility to do the necessary research beforehand, especially when they know who their neighbours are. Their point could be made equally as well without any badge at all. It was insensitive and inflammatory, and it’s important we call it what it is.
While this act would be insensitive anywhere, it was particularly abhorrent in Outremont, where one in four people is Jewish, according to city councillor for Côte-des-Neiges—Notre-Dame-de-Grâce Lionel Perez. The issue being protested was the frequency with which school buses made stops in Outremont, a problem that would be simple enough to articulate without the use of badges reminiscent of those used during the Holocaust.
The Jewish community should not have to face this level of cultural insensitivity. There are more sensible ways in which to protest. As someone who belongs to a religious minority, I am deeply concerned by this incident. I can relate to the emotional suffering and pain this would elicit.
As a mom, I can imagine how difficult it is for parents to have to explain to their children why someone would evoke a horrifying period in the history of the people in their community. Having to open your child’s eyes to discrimination and the ugly side of humanity is both painful and saddening.
We all deserve to feel at home in our city. Unless you belong to a First Nations community, we are all immigrants. That means respecting our differences and not reminding a visible minority community of its horrific past.
This issue is bigger than Outremont and a handful of insensitive protesters. It is about standing together as Montrealers to reject discrimination against any minority group. Thankfully, elected officials were quick to respond and denounce these acts as discriminatory and offensive.
You don’t have to be Jewish or a member of a minority community to understand the inflammatory nature of this act. You merely have to have a sense of decency and compassion for other human beings.
As a society, we need to be better than this. We don’t all have to agree to get along. We don’t all have to believe in the same thing, dress the same way or share the same opinions. Our differences are what make Montreal, Quebec and Canada among the best places in the world to live.
We do, however, have to be respectful of each other’s differences. We live in a democracy that affords us venues to state our grievances. In this instance, the protests had to do with school buses being used to transport Hassidic Jewish children. Wearing an inflammatory symbol was not only tactless but inciteful.
There are clusters of minorities living throughout our city. It’s one of the things that makes Montreal the vibrant, dynamic and beautiful place that it is. Our people are as diverse as the menu options in restaurants along Ste-Catherine St. We don’t need to resort to insulting or offending one another to make our point.
By standing up for the rights of minorities, we help build a better and more inclusive city for us all.
Fariha Naqvi-Mohamed is the founder and editor in chief of CanadianMomEh.com, a lifestyle blog.
- Hasidic buses in Outremont: ‘Our kids have to go to school’
- Allison Hanes: Yellow badges in Outremont a symptom of the new age of ignorance
- Dan Delmar: A long history of unreasonableness in Outremont
Source : http://montrealgazette.com/opinion/fariha-naqvi-mohamed-yellow-badges-a-shocking-means-of-protest