9/11 did not change Quebec's relationship with Muslims, says Bloc leader Blanchet

"September 11, 2001, did not change our relationship with our fellow Muslims," said Bloc Quebecois leader Yves-François Blanchet.

On the 20th anniversary of the World Trade Center attacks, the Bloc leader suggested that there has been no before and after September 11 in the province's relationship with the Muslim world and Quebecers who practice Islam.

"Absolutely nothing," he replied when asked at a news briefing Saturday morning what had changed in the relationship.

"I would find it terrible to associate the beautiful Muslim community in Quebec with that," he continued. "Dangerous extremists and radicals are found in every culture. Even if a large part of my solidarity goes to the Muslim community that has been stigmatized in the terrorist acts."

Blanchet said that he himself has a good relationship with fellow Muslims, beyond differences of opinion.

"All the people of the Muslim faith that I know are people with whom I have excellent relations," he said.

Blanchet held his news conference in Sherbrooke with his candidate Ensaf Haidar, herself a Muslim. She is the spouse of Saudi blogger Raif Badawi, who has been imprisoned for 10 years in Saudi Arabia for criticizing the despotic regime in Riyadh.

Nous nous sommes arrêté ce soir à Sherbrooke en soutien à notre candidate, @miss9afi, à l’occasion de la 350e vigile en soutien à la libération de Raif Badawi.

Les chefs fédéraux doivent respecter leur engagement et faire de Raif Badawi un citoyen. ��⚜️��️#jesuisraif #Elxn44 pic.twitter.com/1TpdA6uFoi

— Bloc Québécois (@BlocQuebecois) September 11, 2021

Asked to explain how 9/11 changed her life, Haidar said it was a "statement against the United States and against democracies."

"I am a Muslim, but not an Islamist, that's different," she said.

Blanchet made a point of commemorating the 9/11 attacks that "changed the course of history and the way America and the west saw themselves and each other."

"These events brought us closer to our American neighbours, in a wave of solidarity and sadness," he said.

There are many more things that bring all North Americans together than there are that set them apart.

-- This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on Sept. 11, 2021.

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