I don't want to be 'accommodated'

Accept me for who I am; The Quebec and Canadian charters were part of the deal when I came here

Accommodements - la Commission BT à Montréal

When my application to immigrate to Canada was accepted, I viewed it as a contract between my family and Canada and Quebec. This was a contract, like any other, that should not be unilaterally changed. The Charters of Rights of which Canada and Quebec are very proud are part of my contract with Canada and Quebec.
I am frustrated seeing where we are now on individual rights. Is it possible that one day someone will tell my son that he has to stop using his name because it is a religious symbol or a clear profession of religion? (My son's name is Ahmed, he is 20 years old, 18 of which he spent in Quebec.)
Someone might say that this is far-fetched. I don't think so. I believe that if our society continues moving in the direction it is going, this could easily happen. If we want to conceal religion, then a name, especially one like Ahmed or Mohammed, is as clear a public display of religion as a Muslim woman's headscarf or a Jewish man's kippa.

At the same time, I resent the terms "tolerate" and "accommodate." I am not asking to be accommodated. Far from it. To be accommodated is an implication that I am not normal. I believe I am as normal as anyone. Or maybe I should say no one is normal anyway, we all have our peculiarities. I have been contributing to Quebec society for 18 years, earning my living, paying my taxes, participating in social-justice movements and engaging in public debates. I should not have to ask to be accommodated. I should be accepted as I am.
The fear for the survival of a culture is no reason to treat some people differently or give them fewer rights. Let me give you the bad news and get it done with: No culture is safe. None ever survived forever and none will.
Actually, in today's world, changes will inevitably happen much faster than they used to because of the ease of communications. We are witnessing the birth of a global culture that will, sooner or later, replace all cultures. I accepted this on the day I decided to emigrate from Egypt to Canada (and I am a very proud Arab and Muslim who is very attached to his culture and religion).
The values, ideas and beliefs that are worthwhile will survive and become a part of the new global culture, and those that aren't will fade away, without sorrow. This is in the interest of the human race as a whole and no one in his or her right mind should fight it or try to prevent it.
Each of us should work on refining and defining what they want to survive to give it a better chance rather than resorting to laws, backed by frightened majorities or politicians looking to gain favour with them, to insure the survival of a certain culture or belief. This would hurt us all, and be many steps backward from what the country was when I immigrated to it.
Finally, I cannot see why some Quebecers feel threatened by Muslims. (I speak about myself as a Muslim male and won't get into Muslim women's choice of dress because I believe that Muslim women are capable of defending their own choices. Also, I want to avoid allegations that Muslim men are influencing women's choices, or worse, forcing choices on them).
Why is my praying in my cubicle or office at work or under a tree in a park a threat to someone else's beliefs or culture? Why is it offensive to someone? If there are people who feel it is, even if they are in the majority it doesn't make me at fault.
I do not want to be accommodated. I demand to be accepted, treated and judged as an equal.
Ehab Lotayef is an IT engineer at McGill University. He helped found Shalom/Salaam Montreal and the Montreal Dialogue Group.

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