This article was originally published on March 28, 2017 in the Huffington Post.
If you’re like me, Canada’s debate around Islamophobia has left you drained and disillusioned. Both the Liberals and Conservatives treated this important social issue as if it were political football, seeking to gain cheap yardage with seemingly little concern for the lives involved. Muslim Canadians deserve better.
Many Canadians might be surprised to learn that back in October, Canada passed an anti-Islamophobia motion by unanimous consent. House of Common petition e411, sponsored by Liberal MP Frank Baylis was the basis for this motion. Sadly, at the time, Liberals didn’t have the political courage to propose a motion on Islamophobia before the House. Instead, it was NDP leader Thomas Mulcair who showed the sensitivity and political resolve to present this motion, and did so successfully on October 26.Read more
The contrast could not have been more jarring. Outside, a small group of rabid protesters, shouting threateningly, carrying megaphones, signs, and cameras. Inside, a rapt crowd of 600 listening quietly to a message of civic engagement delivered by one of the Muslim world’s most articulate writers and thinkers, Dr. Tariq Ramadan.
It’s a shame that the protestors came to disrupt rather than to listen to Dr. Ramadan. It’s likely that they would have been both encouraged and challenged by Ramadan’s talk. Encouraged because he calls citizens to be involved and express themselves through our democratic mechanisms – exactly as the protesters were. Challenged because he calls citizens to think deeply about the issues facing our divided societies, and to face our fears with rationality – precisely where our protesters fell short.Read more
This article was originally published on February 9, 2017 on Rabble.
In the aftermath of the Quebec City mosque attack we have heard and read all kinds of language to describe the event. “Hate crime,” “mass murder” and “terrorist attack” were all used and they all, to some extent, do define what has happened. However, one confused TVA anchor said on air that this was a case of “reverse” terrorism. As if terrorism had only one form: Muslim against others.
The TVA anchor has since apologized for his words, but his statement is reflective of a much larger problem: many people seem confused about when to properly use the term “terrorism.” This is no surprise considering the fact that even pundits and governments are unable to agree on when to apply the term.Read more
This article was originally published on Feb. 2, 2017 in Rabble.
When radicalization is publicly discussed in Canada, it is almost always with a reference to Islamic extremism or terrorism. It’s as if this phenomenon is strictly confined to individuals who have adopted extremist Islamist ideas like those of ISIS. Yet, this narrow conception of radicalization has, without a doubt, allowed for the atrocities in the Quebec City Mosque to take place. By failing to acknowledge the threat coming from the radicalization of individuals and the presence of more than 100 right-wing groups throughout Canada, we have blinded ourselves to the possibility of something like this ever happening.
There is no question that Islamic radicalization and violence is a threat that must be addressed in Canada. Governments at all levels have mobilized to address the risk posed by international Islamic extremist groups, and the academic study of the phenomenon has exploded.Read more
This article was originally published on Jan. 30, 2017 on the Huffington Post.
While details are still unfolding on the Quebec City mosque attack Sunday night, there is little question that the shooters were motivated by hate for Muslims. As such, Quebec and Canadian political leaders should take a long hard look at how their statements and actions may exacerbate such hate.
Quebec Muslims rightly see the Quebec City mosque killings as just the latest escalation in a trend of growing harassment against Canada’s Muslims. “The Muslim community in Quebec is suffering from a flood of hate attacks, […] and now the attacks are escalating and bringing […] the death of innocent people,” lamented Samer Majzoub, president of the Canadian Muslim Forum.Read more
Canadians can’t be blamed for missing the anti-Islamophobia motion that passed in parliament last week. If you Google it, you won’t get a single hit in mainstream media: not in CBC, not in Postmedia, not in the Globe and Mail, nowhere. In fact, when this piece is published, it may be the first media piece talking about Canada’s successful anti-Islamophobia motion.
While you won’t find any coverage of the anti-Islamophobia motion that passed on Oct. 26, you will find articles about a similar motion that was defeated on Oct. 6. Personally, I find it curious that a motion condemning Islamophobia that fails is news, while an identical motion that passes is not.Read more
This article was originally published on Oct. 25, 2016 on the Huffington Post.
As the Harper era ended and Trudeau’s term began in late 2015, a collective sigh of relief could be heard from ethnic communities all across Canada, especially from Muslim Canadians. From opposing niqabs at citizenship ceremonies to setting up a hotline for individuals to report the “barbaric cultural practices” of their fellow Canadians - which would have undoubtedly targeted Muslims and those believed to be Muslim - Steven Harper’s Conservative government proved to be highly intolerant of certain minority communities and certainly aided in the heightening of tensions against ethnic and religious groups in the country.
It is no surprise, then, that Trudeau’s comparatively progressive stances and charismatic personality have been so enthusiastically embraced by Muslim Canadians. As a Muslim Canadian myself, I have witnessed the raw enthusiasm within the community over our new Prime Minister. I can’t tell you the number of times my Muslim friends have posted selfies with our “dreamy” Prime Minister on social media. Many others have either proudly shared posts of the PM doing some pretty quirky things, like practicing yoga moves on a desk or showing off his Bhangra dancing skills.Read more