Take Action - Write to the Prime Minister to say 'No' to "A Day of Remembrance and Action on Islamophobia"
The Liberal government will be voting shortly on putting into law "A Day of Remembrance and Action on Islamophobia". It is vital that everybody who opposes this lets him know so, and why. When writing to the PM and your MP, you can use this excellent letter as a resource. It has already be sent to the PM and MPs so best not to copy it – but take suggestions or small parts. It certainly has wonderful ideas as a model letter – but NOTE: our letters should be brief to be effective.
Send your letter to the Right Honourable Justin Trudeau, copy the Honourable Melanie Joly, Minister of Canadian Heritage, and send a copy to your MP, using the links below:
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, firstname.lastname@example.org
Honourable Melanie Joly, Minister of Canadian Heritage, Melanie.Joly@parl.gc.ca
20 March, 2018
Dear Prime Minister Trudeau and Minister Joly,
Please reassure growing numbers of Canadians - including your constituents - that the Trudeau government will not declare 29 January (or any other date) any “version of” " a day of remembrance and action against Islamophobia".
On March 23 March, 2017, the House of Commons passed this motion: "Systemic racism and religious discrimination: That, in the opinion of the House, the government should:
recognize the need to quell the increasing public climate of hate and fear;
condemn Islamophobia and all forms of systemic racism and religious discrimination and take note of House of Commons' petition e 411 and the issues raised by it; and
request that the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage undertake a study on how the government could:
develop a whole of government approach to reducing or eliminating systemic racism and religious discrimination including Islamophobia, in Canada, while ensuring a community centred focus with a holistic response through evidence based policy making;
collect data to contextualize hate crime reports and to conduct needs assessments for impacted communities, and that the Committee should present its findings and recommendations to the House no later than 240 calendar days from the adoption of this motion, provided that in its report, the Committee should make recommendations that the government may use to better reflect the enshrined rights and freedoms in the Constitution Acts, including the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms."
The motion asked the Government to request that the Committee undertake a study to develop an approach to four subjects:
reducing systemic racism including Islamophobia
eliminating systemic racism including Islamophobia
reducing religious discrimination including Islamophobia and
eliminating religious discrimination including Islamophobia.
The House of Commons motion would seem to consider “Islamophobia” to be a form of both systemic racism and religious discrimination.
What are Canadians’ concerns? M‑103 mentions only Islamophobia but is not just about Islamophobia. For the Committee's work to have been broadly endorsed, it should have been broadly based - not selective in focus, addressing only, or principally, Islamophobia.
Literally Islamophobia means irrational fear of Islam. Islamophobia can be defined as whatever we want it to mean. But it is bound to be confusing if we stray from the literal meaning.
There is no widely accepted and understood meaning of Islamophobia which differs considerably from its literal meaning. There is growing danger in a vague definition of Islamophobia that is not widely embraced or understood. There is growing concern that some Muslims might take advantage of the “Islamophobia” “catch-all” phase to launch frivolous law suits against “offenders”, to tax and exhaust those dedicated to equal consideration for all under our Charter of Rights and Freedoms by imposing on their time, by subjecting them to harassment, stalking, or worse.
Several of your constituents – jogging along the canal last summer in tank tops and sports bras – were called “infidel sluts”: some were yelled at to “go home and get dressed!”: and some have been spat at by men on bicycles. Were your constituents to complain, or to file a “harassment” charge, would they be considered Islamophobic? Would their concerns be taken to heart, or would they be advised to dress more conservatively (as the women in Bavaria, Frankfurt, Dresden, Stockholm, etc. have been counselled to do), for their own safety?
Canadians have expressed concern about girls relegated to the backs of classrooms: were your constituents to write to you, to the Prime Minister, to the press about gender-based segregation under a “feminist Prime Minister” – would their concerns be considered, mocked or charged as “Islamophobic”? Would they eventually be fined? Harassed? Sent a form letter that emphasizes “diversity is our strength”?
Canadians have expressed concern that Loblaw’s (and other) niqab-wearing cashier(s) lacks sufficient trust to expose their faces but expect customers to demonstrate trust by handing over credit cards or cash. Will future clients who express their preference for open, visual, facial expression communications, be accused of “Islamphobia”? publicly shamed to the extent that other clients will fear reprisal, humiliation, poor service, or refusal of service entirely?
Constituents have been sharply cut off by male drivers approaching red lights – and constituents have been cut off in shopping mall line ups, and yelled at, “Women at the back of the line!” Will they be accused of Islamophobia if they complain? Will their concerns be “heard”? attended to?
Canadian women in social services jobs have been yelled at rudely by men, “I no talk to woman – only to man. You go! I talk to him!” (ie: to junior staffers, ill-informed about the service delivery matters at issue). Will they be called “Islamophobic” or “insensitive to others’ culture” if they object, and stand their ground?
Canadians in social services positions have been asked for their assistance in securing second and third (Canadian) wives so the “client” can access citizenship more quickly, and secure welfare assistance. Will they be considered Islamophobic and reported for demotion or firing, if they complain? Or if they explain that this is not the kind of service they provide, will they be accused of being flippant? Culturally insensitive? Racist? Judgemental?
Female colleagues - volunteer teaching and offering social work services - to newcomer and refugee families have been told by even young (pre-teen, teenage) males – “I don’t have to listen to anything you say: you’re only a woman” (after working with these families over many years!: Some have been mocked; one was threatened, “when my father and brothers and I go back to “training camp” this year (they go to Somalia every summer), I learn how to kill you.” One was told by a young student, that her pendant was “very bad” and that she is an infidel. Shouldn’t all of these Canadians have recourse and be able to report these growing affronts to our open, welcoming society, with a view to developing expansive, appropriate social skills here at home, toward diverse communities’ mutual respect? Or will they be considered and charged as “Islamophobic”?
Canadians including your constituents are particularly concerned with artificial, expansive definitions of Islamophobia which, in effect, become opposition to blasphemy. The motion asked the Committee, in its study, to make recommendations which would reflect the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. But any definition of Islamophobia which stands opposed to blasphemy of Islam would violate the right to freedom of expression in the Charter.
Adherents of some components of Islam preach hatred and terrorism, incite to hatred and terrorism and engage in hate motivated acts and terrorist crimes. Fear of these forms of Islam is clearly not a phobia: it is a most rational response to the threat they represent. Anyone is dull or foolish, who is not afraid of, for instance, Al Qaeda, ISIS, Boko Haram, the Taliban in Afghanistan, Abu Sayyaf in the Philippines, Lashkar e-Taiba in Kashmir, Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in Gaza, Islamic Jihad in Syria, the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade in the West Bank, or Al Shabaab in Somalia, or any of the groups in Mali, to where we are now to send our Canadian peace-keeping troops.
The purpose of terrorism is terror. Terrorist Islamic groups have as their purpose inducing fear. Many of them are listed under Canadian legislation as terrorist entities. We have troops in Afghanistan training and advising in combat against the Taliban. To suggest that combating fear of these groups amounts to racism and religious discrimination is wrong. It is contrary to Canada anti‑terrorist policy as well as our presence in Afghanistan and soon in Mali to “keep the peace” between ethnic, warring factions.
By failing to refer to “fear of radical Islam”, rather than to “Islamophobia”, the House of Commons and the Committee motions, fail utterly to distinguish between rational and irrational fear of Islam or radicalized Muslims. Yet, fear of certain elements of Islam is neither racism nor religious discrimination. It is mere prudence.
There are some who would define away the problem, by defining Islam, by saying that all these groups who preach, incite and act out hatred and terror in the name of Islam are not really Islamic - that the true Islam is different from what these terrorist entities preach, incite and do. But it is not for us who are not Islam adherents to tell others what Islam is. By pretending that those who preach, incite and act out hatred and terror in the name of Islam are not really Islamic, we define away the problem rather than confront it directly.
Islamophobia is misplaced because it is overbroad. The term “Islamophobia” stands to raise the ire against non-radicalized Muslims. It stands to have the exact opposite effect of its intent. Being afraid of all Muslims based on the incitement and acts of hatred and terror of some Muslims would constitute both racism and religious discrimination. For that reason, your government would do well to condemn all hatred directed against “Muslims”, “Christians”, “Jews” and others, and declare 29 January a day to counter hate (reflecting equally the needs for “special consideration” of our Indigenous, LGBTQ, “Me Too”, “Black Lives Matter”, “Coptic Christian”, “Rohinga Muslim”, “Yazidi”, “Jewish” and all, other oppressed communities)
For the Jewish community, concerns about incitement and acts of hatred and terrorism which come from Islamic radicalism are not theoretical. Islamic extremists, despite their various doctrinal and tactical disputes, have this in common: rabid antisemitism and anti Zionism. For some of these terrorists, such as Hamas, Hezbollah, the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade or the Islamic Jihad, that is their primary purpose, to attack Jews and the Jewish state. There are growing attacks against Jews in Canada at far greater a pace than for any other group, for example,
In 2017, one imam made anti-Semitic statements at a Montreal mosque, including a call for the death of Jews; and
A second Montreal mosque hosted an imam offering a speech demonizing Jews and quoting from the Quran to kill them:
In 2017, a Toronto imam led his congregants with the word, ““O Allah! Count their (Jews) number; slay them one by one and spare not one of them,” “O Allah! Purify Al-Aqsa mosque from the filth of the Jews!”
The home page of the Islamic Society of British Columbia, which operates a mosque near Vancouver, recently included a link to antisemitic content that urges an "Islamic jihad" against Jews and approves the killing of ex Muslims.
Would it be considered “Islamophobic” to hold them all (and many others promoting hate incitement on university / college campuses), to account? To extradite those who are non-Canadians? To charge them with infamous hate incitement and oblige them to do community work teaching about bullying and to take (at their expense) and also to engage experts to teach their communities three-years of Yad Vashem courses about the Holocaust? To organize positive social events with the Jewish / Christian / other groups whose deaths they call for?
The Heritage Committee study policy recommendations were supposed to be evidence based. Any evidence-based examination of Islamic incitement and acts of hatred and terrorism is bound to identify the high incidence of targeted Jewish community individuals, institutions and the only Jewish state.
Globally and in Canada, antisemitism continues as a mainstream threat, one that is regrettably not receding. Antisemitism remains an appallingly significant phenomenon in Canada.
Every year since 1982 B'nai Brith has published an “Annual Audit of Antisemitic Incidents” based on police statistics and reports from across Canada. 2016 was the worst year on record with a total of 1,728 incidents ‑ an average of almost five incidents every day of the year – an increase of 26% over 2015! And in 2015, Statistics Canada reported that Jews were the most targeted religious group in this country for hate crimes, a reprehensible trend that has continued for nine years!
Logically, the Trudeau Government should be denouncing anti-Jewish acts: 29 January should therefore be “a day of remembrance and action against anti-Jewish actions” (if any particular persecuted group is to be identified).
And note: the first victims of Islamic extremists are innocent Muslims, who are victimized twice. First they are victimized by radicals in their own Islamic community. Then they are victimized by the broader community, often blamed for the misdeeds of Islamic radicals. Helping the innocents in the Islamic community means combatting both threats, not just the second. The intentionally misleading term “Islamophobia” does not create a buffer to protect them. It will continue to show the perpetrators as victims. It will obfuscate atrocity. It will prevent clarity of vision and of positive action.
Your constituents – call on you, Prime Minister, Minister Joly – to act speedily and without any hesitation safeguard our collective future and to change the wording of any document that includes the misleading term, “Islamophobia” (to “anti-Muslim”).
On behalf of Canadians, please demand clarity. Please ensure positive action and recognition for all who are positively motivated toward mutual respect.
Yours very truly,
- Your NAME, address and postal code (for authenticity)