National Post

Barbara Kay, Want to run for political office without scrutiny in Montreal? Just put on a happy face - and a hijab

Posted: October 20, 2009 , 1:08 PM by Jonathan Kay

Barbara Kay

Montreal's mayoralty race is heating up as the November 1 voting day swiftly approaches. Former separatist militant Louise Harel of the Vision Montréal party, thought to be the front runner over somewhat lacklustre federalist incumbent Gérald Tremblay, is now battling her way back after being forced to jettison her closest collaborator, Benoit Labonté, when credible allegations of Labonté's involvement in contract-linked corruption surfaced last weekend.

Harel should have more than Labonté's dubious character to contend with in the public forum. She should be explaining why a known supporter of Islamist militancy is running for office under her aegis. A certain Najat Boughaba is a candidate for Vision Montreal in the riding of St Léonard West. I met Boughaba two years ago at a fund-raising dinner she organized for the Canadian Islamic Congress (CIC), where the keynote speaker, notorious Taliban apologist, journalist Yvonne Ridley, spoke glowingly of Hizbollah ("I wish I had the [Hizbollah] flag with me tonight"), officially designated in Canada as a terrorist organization. Boughaba does not deny her deep involvement with the openly Islamist CIC (from which she now discretely distances herself). CIC, readers will remember, was the prime mover in the attempt to sabotage free speech via Human Rights Commission complaints against journalists Ezra Levant and Mark Steyn.

On her website Boughaba claims to adhere to Quebec values of "peace, liberty and equality," but many associations on Boughaba's c.v. contradict such facile lip service to democratic values. For example, Boughaba was an active member of the Centre Communautaire Musulman de Montréal (CCMM). In 2006, following the arrest of 17 alleged terrorists in Toronto (some of them found guilty), Boughaba, under the name of Najad Moustapha, took part in a press conference organized by the CCMM, at which they read a fatwa urging the media to transmit Islam's message of peace drawn up by their spiritual guide, Iraqi ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani who, a few months prior to the conference, had announced on his website that all homosexuals, both male and female, should be executed "in the worst possible manner." (Curiously, the fatwa against male homosexuals was removed from the site, but not the fatwa against females; in any case, the ayatollah has never revoked his condemnation of either.) Moreover, according to Islamist watchdog, the CCMM published on its own website a warning to the effect that girls who did not wear the hijab ran the risk of being raped and having "illegitimate children."

Boughaba was also the editor in chief of a Montreal newspaper, Sada Almashrek (Echo of the Orient). This newspaper celebrates the teachings of theocratic totalitarian Ayatollah Khomeini, father of the Iranian Islamist revolution, and regularly publishes paeans to Hassan Nasrallah, leader of Hizbollah. According to, a text published under Boughaba's editorial aegis accused Liberal Party deputy Fatima Houda-Pépin, a democratic Muslim, of promoting hatred of Muslims.

Most worrying of all though, it was on Boughaba's editorial watch that a poem was published in her newspaper that attacks the principle of freedom of expression, and which labels "unveiled" heritage Quebec women as "whores." Here is the incriminating excerpt (my translation): "Who gave you the right to speak/to bark like the dogs in the streets, to insult/ to judge and to utter insanities and curses/ this is not freedom of expression/ so stop speaking of democracy/ if you conduct yourself like a tyrant...My hijab is not a handkerchief/ it is my skin/ my modesty, my dignity, my respect/ And if you, old-stock immigrant [woman]/ if you have neither faith nor law/ and you have spent your soiled youth/ passing from one male body to another/ that at least is not the case for me."

You don't need to be a literary critic to deconstruct the contempt for ethnic québécois this poem exudes. And yet the editor who published it - Boughaba - was chosen to go to Hérouxville shortly thereafter to speak about Islamic values and explain to alegedly xenophobic québécois how to get along with the "Other." In an ironic aside, this poem was published days before the famous 2007 Hérouxville lifestyle code was released, yet the "poet," Haydar Moussa, several times publicly declared that the poem had been written "in reaction to" the code, a demonstrable impossibility. And yet the same Haydar Moussa was invited to be a member of the Hérouxville delegation.

To say that Louise Harel did not do her due diligence on Boughaba - or alternatively did, but was so eager to attract a token Muslim to her team as a showcase for her multicultural credentials that she didn't care what it revealed - is the understatement of the year. It goes to show once again that when a hijab goes on one politician's head, objectivity, judgment and democratic principles fall out of all the politicians' heads around it. If you read French, you can get a much fuller account of Najat Boughaba's insalubrious associations and democratic shortcomings here.