“We have come a long way, but not enough,” said imam Hassan Guillet

Photo: Renaud Philippe The Duty
Imam Hassan Guillet grieves the repetition of incidents motivated by hate.

The fight against islamophobia is not only to protect the muslims, but all Quebecers, pleaded imam Hassan Guillet. In particular, the parents of Alexandre Bissonnette.


“This is to protect québec society as a whole “, he explained to the Duty on Friday. “I think that there is anyone who would like to be the poor parents of Alexandre Bissonnette. Their son has committed a terrible act that has ruined their life to them and theirs by taking lives of innocent people. We don’t like that it repeats. The parents of Alexander Bissonnette, this are not muslims. “


The fight against the ” culture of hatred “, he continues, ” it’s going to also protect the people who carry this hatred, because hatred destroys everything in its path “.


In the aftermath of the massacre at the islamic cultural Center, Mr. Guillet had delivered a powerful speech to the Québec city convention Centre. To the surprise of all, he said that Alexandre Bissonnette was also a victim in the horror.


When he talks about the wave of sympathy that déferlait then on to Quebec, the tears rise to the eyes. “There was a surge of solidarity, of compassion, of understanding. We felt that we belonged to the same family, ” he says, voice trembling. “We were getting to know each other. […] I thought that the company was ripe so that we can really look at the eyes in the eyes. See that it does not come from the same place, but that one is going in the same direction. “


But very quickly, the “momentum” of February has given way to the ” mischief “, he laments. Therefore, when one asks him what is his state of mind at the approach of the January 29, he contends that we have ” come a long way, but not enough.” Of the path ? “Yes. The proof of this is that I am sitting in front of you. Before, journalists were talking about us instead of speaking to us. “


The effect of accumulation


The last few months have been “very difficult” because of ” the accumulation “, he says before the list of the referendum on the cemetery in Saint-Apollinaire, the explosion of the car of the chairman of the CCIQ, the delivery of messages of hate in the mosque, the false news of TVA’s claim that the leaders of a mosque have called for the exclusion of women from a construction site, the rise of The Pack and other outfits of the right of identity, the debate surrounding the consultation on systemic racism…


Even if it practice far from Quebec (Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu), the imam Guillet returned almost every month since January to deliver sermons at the islamic cultural Centre of Québec (CCIQ). It had been especially invited to come and reassure the faithful in the aftermath of the referendum in Saint-Apollinaire.


“I spent the night to reassure the people. To say that those who say that the Québécois are against them do not tell the truth, that the catholics are not against them either. Cardinal Lacroix of Quebec was supportive… ” Gold in the second part of the meeting, a director of the mosque shows up to notify people that they had received a package of hate with the head of a pig on the inside. “I fell to the ground. I didn’t know what to tell them ! A few weeks after, the car of the president of the Center exploded. “


Where the feeling of being in a “flood” where a new leak replaces each hole is blocked. “One wonders where it will stop. “Does one need a national Day against islamophobia ? “I think so,” he replied. This week, the Coalition avenir Québec (CAQ) and the Parti québécois (PQ) are both opposed to it. The CAQ has talked about a problem non-existent ; the PQ has argued that the term was associated with the controversial Adil Charkaoui.


Arguments that do pounce. “For the love of God, don’t accuse Quebecers of being racist ! We know that it is a tiny minority, but the majority stop being silent. […] There is a day against homophobia, it does not mean that all Quebecers are homophobic ! “As to the association with Charkaoui, he finds it absurd. “At this point, the Parti québécois should stop to say nationalist, because Hitler also said nationalist ! “


Elvis Presley and the sharia


A native of Lebanon, Mr. Guillet is both an engineer and a lawyer and has worked a long time in the aviation industry. Arrived in Quebec in 1974, this intellectual is married to a Quebec that is encountered in a library. The great drama of his life is the loss of her son of 15 years, died in his sleep. During the consultation in Saint-Apollinaire, he was come to tell it with emotion this episode. “I was in China when it happened. The first new I was demolished, but the question that followed was even worse : where wilt thou that we bury him ? Here or in Lebanon ? “


The imam had told this to the citizens of Saint-Apollinaire understand the importance for muslims of Quebec to have a place to bury their dead.


Hassan Guillet continues to believe possible to discuss calmly this type of issue, if one avoids the use of amalgam. “The people are correct ; the problem is the smoke screen that we put in front of the eyes,” he says.


As this idea according to which there exists a ” muslim community “, he said. A term he never uses, by the way. “I will not say that Quebecers are as well, politicians like this. We are first individuals. The people don’t think exactly the same thing. There are shades. “


Or this belief that the muslim leaders conspire to impose the sharia law in Canada. “For the love of God, we are in a democracy ! Muslims only account for 3 % of the population. There are men, women, practitioners, non-practitioners, those who drink alcohol, those who did not drink, women who wear the headscarf, women who don’t wear them… So, when we speak of those who want to impose sharia law, within the 3 %, you think that it is how much ? And with what they are going to impose sharia law ? Me, I think that there are more people who believe that Elvis Presley is alive than people who want to impose sharia law in Canada. “


And here he is again, who smiles. Moreover, in spite of everything, Hassan Guillet is not said discouraged. He said that: “we must build on the positive “, because if not, we will always let extremists ” hijack our program.” Describing himself as a devout optimist, the imam said trust at the time and even kicks that to him, the pessimism is the equivalent of what catholics call… “a mortal sin” !

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