Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is crying “Islamophobia” after his government ministers weren’t allowed to campaign in the Netherlands over the weekend in support of his bid to expand his presidential powers.
It’s just another reminder of why this vaguely defined buzzword should never be officially recognized by Western governments.
Thankfully, the vast majority of Canadians also see it this way. A new poll out by Forum Research reveals that only 14% of people support M-103, the anti-discrimination motion put forward by Liberal MP Iqra Khalid that singles out so-called Islamophobia.
Most respondents want to see some sort of change to the wording that brings it in line with suggestions made by Conservative MPs to either mention all religions or none. When broken down by political support, even 71% of Liberals are against the motion’s wording.
Nobody seems to like M-103. And you can’t blame them.
The main argument I’ve made against it is that the term is ripe for abuse. In many countries, “Islamophobia” is criminalized, used to punish apostates or critics of Islam.
Every year, Canada welcomes tens of thousands of people from these countries. While many are coming to escape such nonsense, others will be acclimatized to a broadly-defined “Islamophobia” and support its aggressive application here.
Erdogan's use of the term is nowhere near as robust as how some Middle Eastern countries employ it.
But it's still troubling given the context. Turkey has become increasingly Islamist in recent years. Since Erdogan first became prime minister over a decade ago, the federal religious affairs directorate has greatly expanded its budget and overseen the construction of 10,000 new mosques.
While the headscarf was once banned in the public service, it’s now encouraged and even worn by women for career advancement. The Economist notes the governing party has a “subtle but relentless Islamising influence”.
Last summer’s coup, if it had been successful, would have likely put an end to this religious encroachment. Previous coups, like the most recent in 1997, had similar goals.
Instead, Erdogan is now consolidating and expanding his powers. Government ministers are flying around Europe to cities with significant dual national populations, who are eligible to vote in next month’s constitutional referendum, to hold pro-Erdogan rallies. This understandably makes European politicians a tad bit nervous.
The Netherlands incident is far from the first time Erdogan has cried the “I” word. Last year he told CNN he supported “an official declaration that Islamophobia is a crime against humanity”. And right after Brexit he said it was Islamophobia that was keeping Turkey out of the EU.
A couple of weeks ago, German police conducted raids on the homes of four Muslim clerics who were accused of spying on behalf of the government. Religion was only a peripheral component in the police action, yet that didn’t stop the head of Turkey’s religious affairs directorate from denouncing it as “Islamophobia-based hatred.”
Make no mistake about it: There is a correlation between Erdogan’s stance against alleged Islamophobia and his power play to expand Turkey’s Islamist agenda. And it’s not a pleasant one.
Islamophobia is weaponized language and, whether this was Khalid’s intention or not, Canada’s legislators are being asking to give it a stamp of approval.
One of the biggest arguments the motion’s enablers push forward is that M-103 is no big deal because it’s just a motion. Yes and no. It does call for a committee study that creates a pathway to legislation.
But even if we take it in just its symbolic form, it’s a symbolism the vast majority of Canadians reject.
This article was originally published on the Toronto Sun website on March 13, 2017, and can be viewed on their site by clicking here.