MONTREAL — The French-language daily Le Journal de Montréal seemed once again to be trying to stir the pot of intercultural tensions earlier this week.
The paper, which has a history of periodically trying to inflame public sentiment on the issue of reasonable accommodation of minorities in Quebec, sent a reporter disguised in a Muslim headscarf to try to enter Montreal's La Ronde amusement park carrying food, which the public is no longer allowed to do as of this season.
She was successful, leading to a story with the following headline: “Lunches banned at La Ronde, except for Jews and Muslims.”
In the July 16 piece, Journal reporter Mélanie Bergeron approached the entrance gate wearing the religious headscarf and carrying a food container.
A security guard, noticing her hijab, immediately placed a sticker on the container indicating “medical approval” and let her in.
This season, Six Flags, the U.S. company that operates La Ronde, which opened as the midway for Expo 67, instituted a new policy at the park banning the public from bringing in their own food and beverages, unless they’re needed for medical reasons. It set aside a designated picnic area outside the entrance for visitors who want to bring their own food.
“But there seem to be exceptions for religious groups who are allowed to pass through the turnstiles with kosher or halal meat,” Bergeron wrote, even though the food she brought in – a smoked meat sandwich – was neither kosher nor halal, and it was not even glanced at by the security guard.
Neither Jews nor kashrut were mentioned anywhere else in Bergeron’s story.
CJAD radio cited an unnamed La Ronde security guard as saying that observant Muslims and Jews were being allowed to bring in their own food since the park had no kosher or halal concessions, but this quote didn’t appear in the Journal story.
Jews who observe kashrut and patronize La Ronde, said one Jewish observer who preferred not to be named, almost certainly bring their own food and beverages and consume them with the rest of the public outside the park gates.
The next edition of The CJN is Aug. 1.