Quebec premier opposes plans to build Muslim residential community in Brossard

A silhouette of Muslim women. ABBAS MOMANI/AFP/Getty Images

Quebec premier Philippe Couillard is opposed to a developer’s controversial proposal to build a Muslim housing community on Montreal’s south shore.

Couillard said the concept of segregated neighbourhoods runs counter to Quebec values of diversity and inclusiveness.

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The developer has faced a backlash since details emerged of his plan to build dozens of homes for Muslim families near Brossard, south of Montreal.

Couillard’s health minister, who had previously said he had no problem with the idea, changed his tune on Tuesday.

Gaétan Barrette, who represents the riding, told Radio-Canada he opposes any home sales based on religious affiliation.

The developer, Nabil Warda, told Radio-Canada earlier this week that the thinking behind his project was not to build a “Muslim ghetto” but to offer low-cost housing to Muslim families, some of whom consider paying interest to be a sin.

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Warda, an accountant, said he’s also not opposed to others living in the community. An actual area for the development has not been decided on just yet.

“If we listen to the critics, we never do anything,” Warda told the CBC’s French-language network.

“As long as I’m criticized from the left and the right, I know I’m on the right track.”

He is expected to present his plan to the local Islamic community centre on Friday.

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Speaking in Morocco, where he was attending an international conference on climate change, Couillard said it is important to oppose discrimination in all its forms.

“Discrimination can work in many ways, and inclusion can work in many ways,” he said.

“We are in favour of mixed housing for cultural communities as well as for religious groups. It’s fundamental for us.”

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