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Traumadvise: This column may not be suitable for those who hold religion in holy horror. It could also upset Islamophobes. We prefer to let you know.

Posted at 11:00

There is a new superheroine in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (the famous MCU). She is 16, her name is Kamala Khan, she lives in Jersey City and is of Pakistani descent. She – activation notice, as young people say – Muslims? Yup.

Her superhero name is not Muslimwoman, but Ms. Marvel. She is the protagonist of the six-episode miniseries of the same name, which arrived on the Disney + platform Wednesday. She is a dissipated high school student, marginalized loser, more interested in meeting superhero enthusiasts than her math or biology exams, much to the chagrin of her parents, who are rather conservative immigrants.

I saw the first episode of Ms. Marvel with Fiston, who seemed less interested in the adventures of this teenager his age than those of Obi-Wan Kenobi, who nevertheless has mine. “Why is she a girl?” I asked him. “No, because she is a Muslim!” “, He replied in great detail, with an extra layer of irony. I realized it was the cliché of the teenager being bullied in front of her locker at the very beginning of the episode that he rightly found triumphant.

Luckily, Ms. Marvel, a fascinating series that incorporates elements of animation, does not stop there. It is the story of a sassy teenager who adores Captain Marvel, aka Carol Danvers, the key character of the Avengers. Her goddess is her. When she one day she discovers a mysterious bracelet sent by her family from Pakistan, she inadvertently transforms into a superheroine.

Ms. Marvel It’s not limited to the clichés of teen series, even if it embraces the codes. And it is no longer limited to the caricature that Christian militants or atheists wanted to make of them. This week, a private Facebook group of some 16,000 members, Christians against Ms. Marvelhe poured his courage on the Disney + series because it depicts a Muslim family.

Others were outraged by what they interpreted as a first foray of religion into a universe, that of superheroes, which until then had been exempt from it. One detail: it is false. You don’t have to know anything about the culture of comics Americans and their television and film derivatives claim that its characters, themselves considered demigods, are not religious.

The latest superhero in a Marvel Disney + series, Moon Knight, is Jewish, as are Magneto and Kitty Pryde from the X-Men. Captain America is Christian, also Daredevil. What do they have in common that cannot annoy anyone or inspire any news?

No matter how much I think about it, I can’t put my finger on it. Wait ! No, it doesn’t have to be that, it would be too simple. Could it be because none of them are … Muslim?

Two pieces of a robot, as Tony Stark, aka Iron Man, would say. Ms. Marvel is Muslim. She is rarely mentioned in the first episode, but – another traumatic warning for those who see religion in their soup and for whom the sight of a veil makes you pass out – the teenager she prays in the mosque in the trailer for the series. They will recite a hundred Ave Maria (in Latin) to exorcise the image I have just described. With some holy water, it should pass. Word of the shepherd.

What I find delightfully ironic in the speech of those who are outraged that a superheroine can identify with Islam – like some 2 billion of her co-religionists – is the ray of the crucifix they don’t see in their eyes, as a man named Jesus said. once.

It takes intentional blindness with an apostolic zeal not to realize how many MCU movie scenes shot in churches or cemeteries, which feature Christian religious rites. I know, I’ve seen all the MCU movies and series.

Was a columnist shocked by the scene of a prayer in the mosque, but not by that of a prayer in the church? God knows what the difference is. I seek, I seek. Could the columnist believe that HIS religion, Catholic secularism, is more a cultural heritage than a religious practice? Would it be a form of religious neutrality for you? Wouldn’t what is good for Pitou therefore necessarily be good for Minou?

Kamala Khan, played by Toronto’s Iman Vellani, does not perpetuate any prejudice about the submissive Muslim woman that some like to portray. She does not wear the veil except in the mosque, unlike her friend, who does it by choice. She is a gentle rebel who defies the strict traditional values ​​of her parents, which overprotect and nurture her more than she is her brother, because she is a girl, she believes.

Dream about Manhattan and a handsome dark man, listen to The Weeknd and love the Avengers. He does not deny his ethnic heritage of him, however, he enjoys choosing a new sari and going to the Pakistani grocery store in his neighborhood with his mother.

“We will see children of immigrants proud of their culture,” Iman Vellani explained to my colleague Pascal LeBlanc this week.

Ms. Marvel lives in Jersey City, but she could have lived in Markham, the young actress’s hometown, or in Montreal’s Parc-Extension neighborhood. It is not political correctness or “fashion for diversity” to present characters who are not white, male and Christian. It is witnessing too often hidden realities, it is going out of its majority furrows, it is making the account of the society in which we live more faithful.

I was talking about it just this week with the members of the Group of Thirty, young ambassadors of ethnocultural diversity from Montreal, who still do not recognize themselves sufficiently in our television and our cinema. They are right, although, fortunately, things are changing.

One final traumatic warning, this time for xenophobes: according to the 2016 census, more than a third of Montreal’s population was born overseas and more than half are immigrants. You’ll have to get used to seeing young brunette women, in life and on screen.


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