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Quebec politician jokes that religious symbol bans are to blame for church fires

She continued to say that if she was the Premier, she would “have firefighters sleep at the basilica of Notre-Dame Street” in Montreal.
Roberto Wakerell-Cruz Montreal, QC

An ex-Quebecois politician has suggested that the fire at the world famous Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris Monday was the result of “divine intervention” related to the prohibition of religious symbols in France.

Eve Torres, the co-spokesperson of the Quebec Solidaire, a social-democratic and sovereigntist political party in Quebec,  made the controversial comments on a political analysis show. Comments she now calls “jokes.”

According to La Presse, Torres, a Muslim woman, said that banning religious signs can stir up the wrath of “the imaginary friend,”  then saying “here is the result!” Implying that the religious symbol ban provoked God to set the cathedral on fire.

She continued to say that if she was the Premier, she would “have firefighters sleep at the Basilica of Notre-Dame Street” in Montreal.

The comments made here are presumably related to Quebec’s own religious symbol ban, Bill 21. The implication is that if Quebec is also banning religious symbols, a controversial move by the CAQ government that has made headlines, that perhaps Montreal’s own Notre Dame basilica should be under close observations for fires. Just in case God were to decide to set it ablaze, or anything of that nature.

Torres has since retracted the comments, saying that they were a “joke,” also saying that the remarks were only to exacerbate the debate around Bill 21 on religious symbols being banned in Quebec government.

Manon Massé, the leader of the Quebec Solidaire, has openly denounced Ms. Torres’ distasteful jokes.

“I was very troubled” by the words of Ms. Torres, said Ms. Massé, adding that if it was indeed a joke, that the joke was “in very bad taste.”

According to Massé, comments like these have no place in public discourse as they “ruin the debate.”

A former QS candidate, Ms. Torres was also a member of the Québec Solidaire coordinating committee, up until recently.

“It was a joke, of course,” said Ms. Torres in an interview. Torres herself comes from France, and spent several years in Paris stating she feels a “special affection for the churches”.

“I really located [the joke] in the socio-political context: France has banned all its religious symbols … It’s a joke of people believers.”

Did you find Ms. Torres’ joke funny? Let us know in the comments below.

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Roberto Wakerell-Cruz
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