Editor's Note: As we await the Heritage Committee’s report regarding Motion M-103, Toronto Councillor Neethan Shan wants that city to designate January 29th (the day of the mosque shootings in Quebec City in 2017) as a Day of Remembrance and Action on Islamophobia. As does Motion M-103, Shan’s proposed motion highlights one particular group. This has so upset Jewish community activist Vivienne Ziner that she has posted a petition opposing Shan’s motion.
Councillor Neethan Shan
TORONTO — We were already lectured about our alleged Islamophobic tendencies a little more than a year ago when controversial bus shelter ads were released during the first phase of a $400,000 ‘Toronto for All’ program. And, of course, there’s the very controversial M-103 anti-Islamophobia motion passed in the House of Commons last March. Now council’s newest social justice warrior, Councillor Neethan Shan, wants to lecture us about Islamophobia again. Shan, a heavily union-backed NDPer who came to council via trustee roles on the Toronto District and York Region school boards, intends to put forward a motion at council next week designating Jan. 29 as a “Day of Remembrance and Action on Islamophobia.” That day marks the first anniversary of the tragic shooting at the Islamic Cultural Centre, a mosque in Quebec City. A lone gunman opened fire while people were gathered to pray, killing six and injuring 19. It did not escape my attention that council doesn’t meet until Jan. 31, two days after the proposed day against Islamophobia but perhaps the councillor is thinking ahead to next year. Shan didn’t respond to numerous requests for comment Wednesday.
Neethan Shan on August 25, 2016.
But in a statement issued by his office, he says this tragic event is the time to come together to “reject hate and bigotry in all forms. “The national tragedy that occurred last January should serve to remind us all of the impact that Islamophobia, racism and bigotry can have on the lives of people,” he said, noting this is an opportunity to take action against “Islamophobia and Islamophobic violence” in the city and the country. Hmmm. I shouldn’t be the least bit surprised that council’s newest SJW would come up with another way to prop up his almost singular focus on those he perceives to be “racialized and oppressed.” (One wonders when he actually does the real boring work of a city councillor.) TORONTONIANS AREN’T ISLAMOPHOBIC After all, this is the same guy — who along with his sister-in-arms Kristyn Wong-Tam at council last fall — tried to push for the city clerk’s office to come up with a made-in-Toronto policy on when and how to recognize massacres and genocides. For one thing, Torontonians aren’t Islamophobic. Nor are Canadians. But if Shan is so worried about hate and bigotry in all forms (not to mention genocides) why not a Day of Remembrance and Action on hate crimes against LGBTQ people, Yazidis, Jews, people with disabilities, Indigenous, blacks, Christians, Catholics, Hindus and to truly embrace those who feel oppressed, let’s throw in those who are weight-, height- and follicle-challenged. Perhaps I’m being cheeky with the last two categories but there is a mounting backlash in the city against the motion for precisely that fact– namely that it singles out one group for attention. Jewish community activist Vivienne Ziner has posted a petition on social media against the motion because she feels it is “discriminatory and racist” to highlight one lone group. RISK ‘ENTRENCHING RACIAL DIVISIONS’ “Stop making one group more important than all the others,” she said Wednesday. “It’s divisive and it’s creating a problem where there isn’t one.” B’nai Brith Canada CEO Michael Mostyn agrees, noting that racism affects many communities and it is never “appropriate to elevate the suffering of one group” over another. He said to do so “risks entrenching racial divisions and social discord in Canadian society” over time. Robert Walker, president of Hasbara Fellowships, an on-campus Jewish advocacy group, says since Jews are 4 1/2 times more likely to be the target of hate crimes (than Muslims), a day opposing hate should be an “inclusive day opposed to all forms of hatred.” “But if Councillor Shan is intent on singling out one group for special mention as hate crime victims, why not the Jews, the number one target,” he said. “Why the cherry picking?”
This article was originally published on the Toronto Sun website on January 25, 2017 and can be viewed on their site by clicking here.