Newsletter for MPs - June 2017
Newsletter to MPs
Chief Editor, Marshall Garland
Contributing editors: Russ Cooper, David Nitkin, Madeline Weld
Contributors this month: Russ Cooper, Joan Felvinci, Shabnam Assadollahi
Volume Number 1, Issue Number 2, June 2017
You are receiving this newsletter because you are a Member of Parliament, an advisor to one, or a Parliamentary staffer to the the Heritage Standing Committee.
We welcome your comments, questions, and submissions.
Islamophobia: a rose by any other name?
Russ Cooper writes about the word "Islamophobia" and tells us the meaning, no matter how you choose to describe it, and the road we are going down.
Joan Felvinci talks about Motion-103's impact on our Canadian way of life and how it affects our constitutionally guaranteed rights and freedoms.
New Blasphemy Laws
Shabnam Assadollahi describes how Bill C-51's removal of Canada's current blasphemy law paves the way for a new one coming on the heels of M-103.
Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage
In the News
StatsCan Report: Police-reported hate crime in Canada, 2015
Islamophobia: a rose by any other name?
by Major (Ret’d) Russ Cooper
Major (Ret’d) Russ Cooper has retired from military service as a decorated combat CF18 fighter pilot and from civil aviation as an international airliner pilot. He is published internationally in the field of civil aviation security and currently writes on related subjects while operating his own avionics flight test and certification company.
William Shakespeare recognized reality's primacy over the world of words when he noted that the fragrance of a rose was in no way dependent on its name. With all the confusion surrounding the term "Islamophobia" of late, one might wonder if we are experiencing a Shakespearean reality-word disconnect today. After all, Iqra Khalid, the Member of Parliament from Mississauga-Erin Mills and the sponsor of Motion M-103, assures us that “Islamophobia” means an "irrational fear of Muslims that leads to discrimination". This interpretation flies in the face of the fact that the word’s constituent parts denote an irrational fear (phobia) of Islam. The question arises, does ridding Canada of “Islamophobia” actually describe the sweet smelling rose that combats discrimination and preserves Charter rights or is it a moniker for a skunk cabbage whose pungent scent provides comfort and cover for one faith doctrine over all others?
The resolution of the disconnect between these competing interpretations is important as the term is central to Motion M-103 and its call for the Government of Canada to "condemn Islamophobia" and "quell" a rising tide of "systemic racism and religious discrimination ". The parliamentary Committee for Canadian Heritage is responsible for advising the Government on how this might be accomplished and, if it gets the definition wrong, could very well end up proposing measures that “quell” individual rights and freedoms, such as free speech, even as faith doctrines hostile to such concepts are sheltered. Indeed, they could end up giving the nation a skunk cabbage when they think they are bestowing a rose. So what is it? Skunk cabbage or rose? To understand which it is it would be logical to break down and understand the term’s constituent parts and then move on to see how it is used and comprehended in the real world.
As mentioned previously, “phobia” translates as an irrational or unfounded fear. Is it irrational to fear any aspect of "Islam"? This determination can only be made if one understands what Islam entails and the obligations it places on its followers. These expectations are considerable as Islam is not simply a faith system but a way of life that includes both political and legal exigencies. These latter requirements are codified in Sharia Law; a perfect, deified system for life that supersedes manmade law. The authoritative handbook of Sharia Law is found in The Reliance of the Traveller; an extensive 14th century document that is certified as true to the faith in the current day by Al-Azhar University - the highest seat of Sunni Islamic scholarship and jurisprudence.
Here's the problem with Sharia Law: it treats a variety of identified groups and individuals differently. Reliance of the Traveller highlights all of these doctrinal distinctions and notes that, in a sub-section "O9" dedicated to jihad, Jews and Christians need to be converted, killed or subjugated. Likewise, sub-section “O8” details the need to kill apostates who choose to leave Islam while sub-section “E4” endorses the need to mutilate the genitals of young Muslim girls. Certainly, if you are a Jew, Christian, apostate from Islam or a young Muslim girl, it would seem quite rational that you choose to fear Islam. Here we see that the term "Islamophobia" is laden with internal inconsistencies and fails to account for the fact that some aspects of Islam, including Sharia Law, are worthy of rational fear. It’s easy to see how the internal contradiction created by the combination of “Islam” and “Phobia” can lead to confusion. Perhaps a look at the term’s demonstrated usage, in the global context, can help us resolve this confusion and sort rose from skunk cabbage.
By far, the most prolific user of the term “Islamophobia” is the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) that comprises 56 Muslim-majority states plus Palestine. The OIC ramped up usage of this term in the post 911 environment and made it the subject of dedicated, yearly “OIC Observatory Reports on Islamophobia” beginning in 2008. These reports define “Islamophobia” as “an excessive fear against Islam and anything associable with Islam”. This definition is most worrisome as “anything associable with Islam” would include Sharia and its blasphemy/ slander provisions. These provisions, as detailed in Reliance of the Traveller sub-section R2.2, are antithetical to current Canadian “hate” legislation as they go beyond the protection of the faith practitioner from discrimination to include the faith, its doctrine and its ideology as well.
One might argue that the OIC’s internationalized definition of “Islamophobia” carries no weight in the Canadian context. This might be the case except for the fact that the OIC was successful in securing United Nations approval of Resolution 16/18 in 2011. This “consensus” resolution is seen by the Government of Canada as providing a “practical action plan” to follow and was patterned after another OIC initiative in the form of the “Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam” in 1990. This “Declaration”, in articles 24 and 25, established Sharia as the “only source of reference” for human rights in Islam. In a similar fashion, Resolution 16/18 affirms the right for everyone to “individually or in community…to manifest his religion or belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching”. The question needs to be asked, does this “manifestation” include the implementation of Sharia speech codes as noted in Reliance?
Other Western democracies that have implemented anti-Islamophobia measures have seen the formation of “collectives” dedicated to “quelling” related transgressions. These include the “Collective against Islamophobia in France” which was successful in securing the criminal prosecution of French-Jewish scholar, Georges Bensoussans. M. Bensoussans had the temerity to cite research data that noted that the Muslim community in France was as much as three times more anti-Jewish then French people as a whole. Is there any reason that efforts to rid Canada of “Islamophobia” will not result in the prosecution of Canadians who dare to criticize the beliefs of Islam’s adherents as was the case with M. Bensoussans? It should be noted that such “collectives” are proliferating throughout the Western world and can be found in the Netherlands and even Quebec.
It would appear that the term “Islamophobia” is inconsistent with the fact that written Islamic doctrine can be seen to be worthy of fear by identifiable groups and individuals. It is also a demonstrated fact that anti-Islamophobia measures include the capacity to curtail free speech rights – even in liberal democracies that make such rights a fundamental premise of citizenship. Accordingly, the Committee for Canadian Heritage must know that it is dealing with a skunk cabbage rather than a rose as it makes findings related to the “quelling” of racism, discrimination and “Islamophobia” in Canada. Their failure to do so stands to dismantle hard won, fundamental freedoms even as repressive powers are raised. Such eventualities will be difficult, if not impossible, to reverse and will not be forgotten by a diminished nation.
Essay on Freedom of Speech
by Joan Felvinci
The author is a retired teacher of English as a Second Language. She has an MA in Art History from Columbia University and currently writes short stories and articles. She lives in Montreal.
“The Supreme Court of Canada refused to hear my appeal of the defamation judgment against me, brought some eight years ago by Khurrum Awan.
"Awan is the former youth president of the Canadian Islamic Congress. As you know, one of the reasons I lost was that the judge ruled that calling Awan an anti-Semite was defamatory.
"But Awan used to be the youth president of an anti-Semitic group — the Canadian Islamic Congress. They even called for the legalization of terrorist groups like Hamas and Hezbollah.”
- Ezra Levant
This a quote from Ezra Levant on The Rebel, a blog I receive on an almost daily basis.
Levant fights for freedom of speech, Canadian values, indeed the values of western civilization, and now he is being penalized for it.
How will this end and where are we headed if we are no longer allowed to open our mouths?
Will writers and reporters who dare to question Islam be accused of and charged with libelous racism, constantly slammed with fines and, even worse, jailed?
Because it looks like this is where our society is headed.
Levant was fined $80,000. How many people can afford to pay fines like this?
Levant tells us that Khurrum Awan and his wife are suing an elderly lady who lives next door to them because she has a Christian cross in her back yard.
What will offend Awan’s sensitivities next?
A mezzuzah on the door of a Jewish home or business?
A wreath on another Christian’s door for Christmas?
Are people going to be sued for displaying these symbols of their religious beliefs?
Where is Awan’s tolerance of other Canadians’ religious beliefs and their sensitivities? Motion M-103, passed by Parliament against Islamophobia and racism, will eventually lead to worse criminalization. (1)
Saying anything about Islam will become a crime. Posting anti-Islam texts will become a crime, even though spewing inciteful anti-Christian and anti-Jewish rhetoric by imams in Canada is ignored by the authorities. Writing blogs which criticize Islam about anything will become a crime.
Since when has one religion in Canada taken precedence over all the others?
Where does the fault lie? I say: with our overly politically correct governments, courts, and media.
The question is: why does political correctness favour one religion above others?
There are several leaders right now who are not politically correct. Donald Trump, known for his strong, frequently politically incorrect statements, constantly gets flak from the Left. Poland, Hungary, and Slovakia have refused to jump on the EU’s bandwagon of allowing an unprecedented influx of Muslim immigrants, and don’t allow unfettered Muslim immigration. Despite threats from the EU, these three countries remain resolved to protect their citizens and their Western democratic way of life.
What is REALLY going on?
We have recently heard that foreign groups like The Tides Foundation, financed by American Leftist, George Soros, have interfered with Canadian elections by funding organizations like Leadnow and Dogwood. (2), (3)
It appears that the Muslims and the Left are in collusion with each other to destroy our democracies and the capitalistic system. Hopefully, in the future, they will be in collision with each other.
More alarming, all of this is happening very rapidly.
Perhaps to make our government aware, we must repeat this mantra over and over: What are you doing to preserve our Western civilization, the civilization that produced the greatest good for the largest number of people?
But what if it does no good?
What if our government isn’t listening?
(1) Ref. Raj Grewal’s statement on Feb. 16, 2017, Hansard, p. 9030, “…Canadians should understand is that it (Motion-103) encourages a committee to collect data … so we as members of Parliament elected to this chamber can study it and propose laws”
(2) Calgary Herald, New report alleges outside influence in Canada's 2015 federal election, http://calgaryherald.com/news/national/new-report-alleges-outside-influence-in-canadas-2015-federal-election
(3) Toronto Sun, Foreign activists influencing Canadian elections draws concern, http://www.torontosun.com/2016/11/23/foreign-activists-influencing-canadian-elections-draws-concern
New Blasphemy Laws for Canada?
by Shabnam Assadollahi
Shabnam Assadollahi is an award-winning Canadian human rights activist and freelance writer/journalist of Iranian origin who was locked up at age 16 for 18 months in Iran's most notorious prison, Evin. She has a Master’s degree in Social Anthropology and has worked extensively helping newcomers and refugees resettle in Canada. She has distinguished herself as a broadcaster, writer and public speaker, concentrating on her primary and heartfelt interest: to focus on the Iranian community and world events affecting women and minority communities.
This article was originally published by The Clarion Project on June 15, 2017.
Criticizing Islam in Canada should not be illegal or disliking it should not be classified as a phobia. A “phobia” is a type of mental disorder. Isn’t the “Islamophobia” motion, which was passed by the Canadian government and calls for limiting the rights of Canadians to criticize Islam, contrary to Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms? What is the purpose of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms then?
The definition of Islamophobia from a Google search is “dislike of or prejudice against Islam or Muslims, especially as a political force.” What exactly has the Parliament of Canada made a motion against? Criticism of Islam? Criticism of Mohammed? Criticism and condemnation of the Islamic State and all Islamic terrorist groups affiliated with radical Islamic ideology? Petitioning against those Canadians who condemn Sharia law? If Canadians criticize Islam or convert from Islam, will they now be considered “Islamophobes” by Canada?
What’s next? Sending Iran and Hamas type morality police to the doorsteps of Canadians critical of Islam, while radical imams in the country continue to spew openly hateful and radical ideas in schools and mosques? What about Canadians who are suspicious of others plotting possible terrorist activities – will they be afraid to report it to authorities in case they are wrong?
Motion M-103 stems from Petition e-411:
Petition e-411 was initiated by Samer Majzoub, president of the Canadian Muslim Forum. It was sponsored by Liberal MP Frank Baylis and went online and became open for signatures on June 8, 2016. The petition closed on October 6, 2016, was accepted unanimously by the House of Commons on October 26, 2016, and presented to Parliament on December 5, 2016, by Mr Baylis.
The details of petition e-411 are extremely sketchy to say the least, praising Muslim accomplishments and decrying those Muslims who use violence in the name of their religion. It concludes with the statement We, the undersigned, Citizens and residents of Canada, call upon the House of Commons to join us in recognizing that extremist individuals do not represent the religion of Islam, and in condemning all forms of Islamophobia.
The Government tabled its response to Petition e-411 on January 30, 2017, concluding with the statement The Government of Canada condemns all forms of racism and discrimination, including Islamophobia.
Motion M-103 was tabled by Liberal MP Iqra Khalid on December 6, 2016, and passed by Parliament on March 23, 2017, by a vote of 201:91. The motion calls upon the government to set up a committee to study how the government could develop a whole of government approach to quell…the climate of hate and fear and eliminate systemic racism and religious discrimination including Islamophobia and report to Parliament within 240 calendar days.
It seems that many Western politicians, the mainstream media and our intellectual elites use the term “Islamophobia” without even knowing what is in Islam. There might be a lot of things about which one could be rationally “phobic,” or simply fearful of, in Islam.
For example, political Islam is known to be an ideology that produces Islamist terrorists. Islamic Republic of Iran is a prime example of it.
Since Trudeau Liberals came to power, Canadians have been constantly reminded that to speak negatively about Islam is supposedly acting as a fear-mongering, racist, xenophobic, “Islamophobe.”
Yet, many people are rightfully afraid of harm coming to them from Islamic (sharia law) and radical or political Islam. I am a living example of one who has experienced harm from radical Islam.
I was imprisoned at age 16 by the Iranian regime for simply expressing my disagreement with their policies (which now might be viewed as Islamophobic in Canada). They held me prisoner for 18 months in their notorious Evin Prison; I miraculously escaped the murder and rape I heard about every day in that dark place.
Read Shabnam Asadollahi’s story here
The memories of my imprisonment still haunt me. And the regime’s threats still follow me today in Canada. Therefore, I have a reasonable fear of radical Islam. To call my fear a phobia, an irrational fear, lacks compassion and fails to recognize the true reality of the present danger living close to me once again.
It was reported that the highest commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards recently said they would soon kill all dissidents living abroad. That means I am on their hit list.
People are jittery about radical Islam and sharia law for many justifiable reasons: They look at how sharia is practiced in Saudi Arabia, Iran, by the Islamic State and Nigeria’s Boko Haram.
The Islamic Cairo Declaration of 1990, written as a direct refutation to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, states that all human rights are defined under Islamic sharia law. Therefore, beheading, stoning, flogging, slavery, child marriage, wife-beating, amputations and a woman’s worth considered half of a man’s are all human rights.
Is that what we want for or in Canada? Or in any country?
To those of us who have experienced Islamic Sharia law first-hand, protecting Western values – free speech, common law, equal justice under the law, democratic (“man-made”) governance; individual freedoms, separation of church and state, an independent judiciary, to name just a few – is indeed a cause for concern. Every single one of them is contradicted by Islamic Sharia law or radical Islam.
Why should it be against the law to outspokenly disagree with aspects of a different political ideology, religion or culture? Especially if it outspokenly threatens one’s own?
It is interesting to note that there are no comparable terms for other religions, such as Christianophobia or Judeophobia that define a dislike or prejudice against Christianity, Judaism or the Judeo-Christian worldview.
What is true is that Christians and Jews would never be allowed to call for a similar motion in any Middle Eastern country in the world.
While M-103 has been stirring in our halls of government, there is also another trend sweeping through these same halls to rid the Canadian Charter of obsolete, unconstitutional or redundant laws, thanks to other Liberal MPs.
On Tuesday, June 6, 2017, the liberals unveiled Bill C-51 that would clean up the Canadian Criminal Code. This Bill would remove the outdated blasphemy law that has existed in Canada since 1892. Government feels this would clean up old law that isn’t consistent with freedom of speech and religion in Canada.
Strangely, C-51 and M-103 seem to contradict one another. While M-103 condemns Islamophobia in all forms, including speaking against Islam, C-51 is loosening law to allow anyone to freely express themselves concerning anyone’s religion without fear of reprisal or imprisonment. Will C-51 only apply to every religion except Islam?
“Intolerance of Intolerance” is the de-facto blasphemy law of the secular state. Is the Government of Canada scrapping one blasphemy law, only to replace it with another?
A complete version of this article appeared on Mackenzie Institute.
Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage
The Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage will interview parties who want to provide input regarding Motion-103. We will provide updates. As of this writing, there has been one meeting.
"Pursuant to Standing Order 108(2) and the motion adopted by the Committee on Tuesday, April 4, 2017, the Committee commenced its study of systemic racism and religious discrimination...
"It was agreed, — That additional, non-exclusive lists of witnesses be submitted to the Clerk by 5:30 p.m., Wednesday, June 14, 2017."
The next meeting in which the Committee is to discuss this is scheduled for June 20, 2016, at 3:30 PM.
For more information about the meetings of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage:
In the News:
Police-reported hate crime in Canada, 2015
The author and editor is a former computer security analyst and has been active in various social causes for over 45 years. He currently lives in Winnipeg.
Hate Crimes in Canada: a Matter of Perspective
On June 13, Statistics Canada released its 2015 annual report on police-reported hate crime in Canada.
As disturbing as these statistics may appear, we need to look at them in the context of Canadian society as a whole.
Motion-103 raised the spectre of “systemic racism and religious discrimination” in Canada,and promoted the idea that there is rampant Islamophobia in our society.
The latest StatsCan figures don’t bear this out.
If you examine the number of hate crimes that target racial groups, the two most targeted populations are
Blacks, who continue to be the most targeted racial group in Canada
Blacks are a full 50% more likely to be the objects of racially motivated hate crimes than Arabs/West Asians. The StatsCan numbers are 23.7 incidents per 100,000 for Blacks and 15.7 incidents per 100,000 for Arabs/West Asians.
When you look at the number of hate crimes directed at religious groups, the two most targeted populations are
Canada’s Jews are more than 350% likely to be the targets of religious discrimination than Canada’s Muslims. The StatsCan numbers are 54.0 incidents per 100,000 for Jews and 15.1 incidents per 100,000 for Muslims.
Two groups unfortunately were the objects of increased religious motivated hate crimes:
The numbers are small, so the percentages looks big: a total of 159 incidents against Muslims and a total of 55 incidents against Catholics. For example, in Manitoba the number of racially motivated hate crimes doubled from 2014 to 2015: from nine to 18. On the other hand, religious motivated hate crimes dropped by 43%: from seven to four.
If you look at the numbers of hate-crime incidents directed at the three main groups - racial/ethnicity, religious, sexual orientation - you will see that the largest group of perpetrators of these acts are under 18, not the adult population at large.
Overall, 2015 had an increase of 67 hate crimes over 2014, the 5% increase being attributed by the police to increased reporting by victims.
BUT the number is not staggering: a grand total of 1,362 reported hate crimes.
Compared to Canada’s 2015 population of 35,848,600 (http://www.statcan.gc.ca/tables-tableaux/sum-som/l01/cst01/demo02a-eng.htm), reported hate crimes have been committed by less than 4/1,000th of 1% of the entire Canadian population.
The figures and facts are NOT representative of a society where there is “systemic racism and religious discrimination”.
The figure of 159 religiously-motivated hate crimes against Muslims is NOT evidence of widespread Islamophobia or anti-Muslim hatred and/or bigotry.
Systemic and widespread in Canada is the tolerance, acceptance, and co-operation on the part of the vast majority of Canadians.
The numbers do not support the premise of Motion-103, we can only guess what are the underlying motives of the Motion and of the biased media that uses misleading headlines and misrepresents the statistics.
Notes from the StatsCan report:
There are several noteworthy things in the 2015 report:
There were 1,362 hate crimes reported to police in 2015
Police-reported hate crime was up nationally by 5% over 2014, mainly due to more hate crimes motivated by hatred of a religion, a race, or ethnicity being reported to the police
Violent hate crime was up 15%
Non-violent hate crime was up 5%
Alberta, New Brunswick, and Manitoba had the largest percentage increases
British Columbia and Ontario had decreases
48% of hate crimes were motivated by hatred of a race or ethnicity
55% were non-violent
45% were violent
35% of hate crimes were motivated by religious hatred
76% were non-violent
24% were violent
11% of hate crimes were sexual-orientation motivated
41% were non-violent
59% were violent
Of those aged 25 and under, accused of hate crimes:
approximately 36% committed racial- or ethnically-motivated crimes
approximately 51% committed religious motivated crimes
approximately 45% committed sexual-orientation motivated crimes
Of hate crimes motivated by hatred of a race or ethnicity, the two highest were:
224 crimes against Blacks, approximately 23.7 incidents per 100,000 Canadian Blacks
92 crimes against those from Arab or West Asian populations, 15.7 incidents per 100,000 Arabs/West Asians
Of hate crimes motivated by hatred of a religion, the two highest were:
178 crimes against Jews, approximately 54.0 incidents per 100,000 Canadian Jews
159 crimes against Muslims, approximately 15.1 incidents per 100,000 Canadian Muslims
Alberta reported 193 hate crimes in 2015, up from 139 in 2014. Statistics Canada reports that there was a “higher number of police-reported crimes motivated by hatred against the Muslim population, Arab or West Asian populations, black populations and the Jewish population.”
From the Calgary Herald:
Irfan Chaudhry with the Alberta Hate Crime Committee and a criminology lecturer at MacEwan University said there has been increased effort from law enforcement to educate people around the importance of reporting these types of crimes.
“Often times when you do see these types of increases, it has a lot to do with awareness campaigns or community connections that a lot of the agencies are making to encourage people to come forward and report these things,” he said.
In the central metropolitan area of Winnipeg, there were seven more incidents of police-reported hate crimes in 2015 than in 2014, an increase of 36 per cent.
From Metro News
Winnipeg police Constable Tammy Skrabek said Winnipeg police recorded 21 incidents of hate crimes in 2015, a 17 per cent uptick in hate crimes for Winnipeg in 2015. Skrabek said the rise can be attributed to increased public awareness of discrimination.
"I think it’s more in the spotlight now … people are now aware that, 'Hey, I need to report this. It is a possible hate crime.' Something as simple as a rock through a window is now being reported as a hate crime, whereas before it was just simply vandalism."
Hate crimes against Muslims in Canada up 60%, StatsCan reports
Incidents targeting Muslims drove rise in hate Crimes in 2015: StatsCan
Police-reported hate crimes in Alberta jumped in 2015, StatsCan says
New Statistics Canada data show Winnipeg hate crimes on the rise
A closer look at the rise in hate crimes in Canada
COMMENTARY: Hate crimes in Canada are outliers, not evidence of an epidemic