More than 20 prominent leaders of the Muslim and Jewish communities of Montreal held a first-ever community-wide roundtable meeting on June 30 under the aegis of the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding and the Montreal-based Centre for Research-Action on Race Relations (CRAAR). Co-chairing the meeting together with Walter Ruby, Muslim-Jewish Program Director, Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, were Fo Niemi, executive director of CRARR and Dr. Karen Mock, a prominent human rights consultant from Toronto with extensive experience in Muslim-Jewish relations. Participants in the meeting discussed issues of Muslim-Jewish relations in Montreal and the common interest of both communities in working together to create a diverse and tolerant Quebec society in which all ethnic and faith communities enjoy equal rights and respect.
Participants in the meeting agreed in principle to create an ongoing grassroots body focusing on Muslim-Jewish relations in Montreal, likely to be named the Greater Montreal Muslim-Jewish Forum. The new body is to operate along the lines of FFEU-initiated Solidarity Committees in cities across the U.S. and the Canadian Association of Jews and Muslims in Toronto; ensuring that Montreal Muslims and Jews stand up for each other when either community is impacted by hate crimes, incitement or discrimination; that the two communities educate themselves about each other and hold joint festive, education and social service events on a regular basis. Attendees indicated a strong interest in holding a ‘Muslims and Jews Refuse to Be Enemies’ event during the Season of Twinning in November. A Steering Committee will soon be set up to work to bring these initiatives to fruition, which will include a cross section of French-speaking and English-speaking Jews and Muslims
Ruby, Mock and Niemi held a follow up meeting at the Montreal Hotel de Ville (City Hall) with Howard Liebman, senior adviser to Mayor Denis Coderne and Fadima Diallo, Assistant to the Mayor on Intercultural Relations, who welcomed the initiative to create a permanent Muslim-Jewish body in Montreal and indicated that City Hall would be interested to endorse and participate in a ‘We Refuse to be Eemies’ event. In addition, Ruby, Mock and Niemi met with Brian Ferinden, Press and Cultural Attache at the U.S. Consulate-General in Montreal.