A third mosque has been ordered closed in Quebec. Or, more precisely, the mosque in question has very belatedly had its zoning permission refused. The city of Terrebonne near Montreal has decided to shut down an informally established mosque in an industrial estate, which makes three mosques in recent days that have earned the disapproval of local governments in Quebec.
Have the past six months of culturally enriched kinetic activism soured the governing authorities on Islam? Or does this just happen to be mosque-closing season?
Many thanks to Carolus for translating this TVA Nouvelles news report, and to Vlad Tepes for the subtitling:
Below is an article about the eviction order for the Terrebonne Mosque. From Le Journal de Montréal, also translated by Carolus:
Now it is Terrebonne’s turn to ban a mosque
[Translator’s note: Terrebonne is a suburb of 100,000 inhabitants, north of Montreal]
A place in the city’s industrial estate is however used for activities and prayers by the Muslim community since 2010
TERREBONNE | After a zoning change to ban a mosque in Hochelaga-Maisonneuve [a Montreal neighborhood], and then the refusal of the city of Shawinigan [a small city of 50,000 inhabitants between Montreal and Quebec] to allow a mosque to be established in the industrial estate, a third mosque is the object of a judicial dispute, threatening to disallow its establishment in the industrial estate.
Terrebonne directed its lawyers to obtain an injunction forcing the eviction of the mosque located in the city’s industrial estate, on Pascal-Gagnon Street, last Friday.
Muslims who patronize the mosque do not find the controversy amusing. “No neighbours complained about us, and we have added fire extinguishers and smoke detectors as per the fire by-laws, “ pleads Karim Sibous, a spokesperson for Estime Rive-Nord and the manager of the mosque.
The hesitations and bungling on the part of the city of Terrebonne seem to prove him right.
The case started December 2010. The mosque had opened without official notice to the city, in 2000 sq. ft. premises located on two floors, in the city’s industrial estate.
Two more years
- It was only two years later, in October 2012, that the city recognized its mistake of having permitted the establishment of a mosque in its industrial estate. The chief inspector, who originally gave the okay, later ordered the mosque to leave its premises within 90 days, but the mosque never left.
- On June 17, 2013, the city’s executive committee refused to change the zoning for the premises to allow the establishment of a house of worship.
- Last January 26, the city issued a legal notice of non-conformity, with an order to evacuate the premises “with the briefest possible delay”.
That refusal to change the zoning and the two legal notices of non-conformity have been up to now ignored by the mosque’s management, and they have not received any further sanction from the city’s authorities.
- It was only last Thursday that the city tasked the Deveau law office to bring to a halt that illegal utilization of an industrial area for worship purposes.
The mosque still has hope
Today, the mosque is patronized mostly on Friday evenings and during weekends. About thirty worshippers were on the premises for the final prayer and some cultural activities last Friday.
Saturday the Muslim association management refused, after consulting its members, to send us, as was agreed, the original written documents allowing the mosque to occupy its present premises for the past five years, in spite of the zoning regulations.
In an e-mail that he sent last Saturday, Karim Sibous writes: “We have the firm conviction that we will be able to negotiate in full confidence with the city’s authorities and find a solution to our problem.”
|0:00||Exclusively from our investigation bureau, we learned that an illegal|
|0:04||mosque in Terrebonne continues its activities since 2010, in spite of many|
|0:08||eviction notices. [Reporter] Judging from the outside in daytime,|
|0:12||nothing is going on there. But at nightfall,|
|0:16||several shadows can be noticed. Some leave when they|
|0:20||notice our presence, some let a few words slip:|
|0:24||”There is the Quran for the children – that’s our priority.”|
|0:28||Once inside, we are asked to refrain from filming.|
|0:32||Yet this mosque has an official Internet web site,|
|0:36||in spite of a mistakenly obtained|
|0:40||occupancy permit in an industrial zoning area. [Karim Sibous]: “We did not know exactly|
|0:44||whether zoning regulations [were allowing us] or not.”|
|0:48||The supervisor claims that he never hid the true nature of his activities:|
|0:52||”Promote spiritual activities among the Muslim population,|
|0:56||specifically in the Terrebonne area. Conduct of prayers.”|
|1:00||After assenting [to the mosque] in October 2012, the city had|
|1:04||changed its stance, evoking the zoning regulations and ordering|
|1:08||the management of the mosque to leave the premises within 90 days,|
|1:12||which has never been obeyed, and the city averted its eyes from the situation for three years.|
|1:16||Last January 26th, the city of Terrebonne re-entered the fray by|
|1:20||voting a new resolution, including an order of eviction.|
|1:24||Last Wednesday, lawyers were tasked by the city, and the eviction notice|
|1:28||was delivered last Friday. Mayor Robitaille|
|1:32||has refused to meet with our investigation bureau, and the management of the mosque|
|1:36||have refused, contrary to what the city has done, to send us their documents.|
|1:40||In the city of Terrebonne no one seems to know of the|
|1:44||presence of a mosque in an anonymous location: “[Do you know if there is] a mosque [here]?”|
|1:48||”No” “Are you sure of this?” “Sure.” As a matter of fact,|
|1:52||after the refusal of the Hochelaga-Maisonneuve district, and that of the|
|1:56||city of Shawinigan, an ambiguous situation is once more created,|
|2:00||for a third time in two months, with the Muslim community.|
|2:04||Michel Morin, TVA news, Montreal.