Jon Kay: Canadian Human Rights Commission must establish a special human-rights tribunal to address human-rights complaints pertaining to the presentation of human-rights issues at the Canadian Museum of Human Rights

Funny and ironic piece by Jonathan Kay who captures some of the absurdity of  identity politics and the criticism regarding the Canadian Museum for Human Rights:

The response of Canadian identity groups to the museum overall is perhaps best epitomized by a statement put out by the Ukrainian Canadian Congress last year, complaining that the museum’s treatment of Stalin’s forced starvation of millions of Ukrainians was fatally undercut by the fact that a panel on the subject was located too close to the public toilets. (Whose exhibit should be closest to the toilets? The Rwandans? The Cambodians? The Armenians? The Ukrainian Canadian Congress hasn’t told us.)

…If the true goal of the Canadians Museum of Human Rights is to create a “national hub for human rights learning and discovery,” shouldn’t visitors to the museum not be able to file a human rights complaint at the museum itself?

The museum boasts of providing visitors with “an immersive, interactive experience that offers both the inspiration and tools to make a difference in the lives of others.” What could be more “interactive” than a special in-museum kiosque that invited visitor to sue the museum itself under applicable Canadian human rights law?

In special circumstances, visitors to the museum might even be permitted to sue each other — Indians versus “wealthy children of settlers,” and Jews vs. Ukrainians, for instance. Following on the 2013 Ukrainian-Canadian protest described above, human-rights complainants at the museum might also seek injunctive relief to prevent fellow museum-goers from using the bathrooms. Where human rights are at stake, no remedy should be off-limits.

In time, the number of successful human-rights claims against the Canadian Museum of Human Rights might become so enormous that these cases would, themselves, become the subject of an entirely new museum — the Canadian Human Rights Museum-Related Human Rights Museum. And since this, too, would be built on “stolen land,” and would necessarily include some cases and exclude others, the cycle of human rights violation, complaint, litigation and resolution would be guaranteed to blossom anew.

The Canadian Human Rights Commission must establish a special human-rights tribunal to address human-rights complaints pertaining to the presentation of human-rights issues at the Canadian Museum of Human Rights

Plan to revoke passports raises concerns

Waldman is correct to highlight that this power could be applied arbitrarily but given that court safeguards exist, and given that there are some Canadians engaged in extremist activities in Syria and Iraq, it seems a prudent measure. See earlier Canadian government revoking passports of citizens trying to join extremist groups for background.

Not the same level as revoking citizenship:

Lorne Waldman, the head of the Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers, says he’s worried the government might use its powers arbitrarily.

Waldman likened the practice to Canada’s secretive no-fly list, which civil liberties groups have argued violates the right to due process.

In the case of passport revocation, Waldman says there are at least legal avenues available for people to appeal such a decision through the courts.

But he said there should be assurances that power is used fairly by Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander.

“The Passport Order gives the minister the right to deny passports if there were issues of national security,” Waldman said Sunday.

“Now, that’s pretty vague and pretty broad, and the minister is going to have to justify it in some way or another.”

Plan to revoke passports raises concerns

Twin visions of Islamic Feminism Split Muslim Community – The Daily Beast

A good counter-point to ISIS/ISIL use of social media and how Muslim women activists are using it to press for a greater role and equality:

Fast-forward to present day and the explosive popularity of social media, which has finally given Muslim women, and Muslim feminists in particular, a resounding voice in cyberspace. “Social media has been great for Muslim feminism,” Zobair said. “It provides a space for Muslim women to speak, which is often denied particularly in sacred spheres such as mosques where the boards are all men and women are kept out of the decision-making. Sites like Twitter allow women to speak out.”

And speak out they have. Twitter hashtags such as #EmpoweredMuslimWomen and #ifKhadijacandoit, referring to the Prophet Muhammad’s first wife, a respected businesswoman and trusted advisor to the prophet in Islam’s early days, have gone viral as Muslim women have taken to social media to help shape their own discourse. Tumblr sites, such as Side Entrance, which highlights the inconsistent standards of women’s prayer spaces at mosques around the world and websites, such as Muslimah Montage, which offers a space for Muslim women to share their own personal narratives, have provided a window into how Muslim women truly feel about their place in society.

Call it Islamic feminism 2.0 – a global cyber movement where Muslim women and their male and non-Muslim feminist allies seek to drown out the critical rhetoric of both fundamentalist mouthpieces that seek to silence their Muslim sisters as well as Islamophobes that seek to reduce Muslim women to caricatures of oppression. But Islamic feminism, like its Western counterpart, is not without controversy.

Twin visions of Islamic Feminism Split Muslim Community – The Daily Beast.

Islam and Catholicism: Beyond reason versus faith | The Economist

The Economist’s commentary on faith, reason, Islam and Catholicism:

These are choppy seas for any theologian or historian of religion to navigate.  In every faith that believes in divine revelation—the idea that at certain moments, God discloses essential truths about Himself or the universe—there is bound to be a tension between revelation and reason as methods of understanding the world. Christians and Muslims have found many different answers to that dilemma.  It’s probably true, on balance, that after much internal debate, Islamic thought from the Middle Ages onwards put more emphasis on divine revelation, while Christianity as it emerged in western Europe put more stress on reason. But that did not make the west Europeans behave more peacefully.

Over the centuries, Muslim thinkers have had a lot to say about reason, including the reasonableness of God; and many Christian texts—including the New Testament—stress the fact that God can utterly trump and render meaningless whatever passes for intelligent reason among unaided human minds.

Ironically, this is exactly the sort of thing that Christian and Muslim thinkers could and should talk about in a civilised way. They cant and wont agree on the question of when and to whom God definitively revealed himself—unless one or the other religion ceases to exist. But they do face common intellectual dilemmas, and they can interact constructively as well as destructively. Not all the exchanges between Christianity and Islam in the medieval era were as abrasive as the Byzantine emperors dialogue quoted by Benedict.

His big failure of tact, perhaps, lay in making generalisations about Islam which relied on Christian commentaries, instead of letting Islamic sources speak for themselves. To any Muslim listener, his tone sounded “Orientalist” and condescending. But an indirect result of the furore was the “Common Word” initiative launched in 2007 by 138 Muslim scholars who invited their Christian counterparts to a debate on the subject of “love of neighbour and love of God”—and the resulting debate continues in universities like Yale and Cambridge.

None of that is much help, you might say, to people threatened by the nihilist fury of al-Qaeda or Islamic State fighters in Iraq and Syria. But ill-judged pronouncements in the world of academia can certainly have a negative effect on the streets. It would be nice to think that the opposite is also the case: that jaw-jaw is not merely better than war-war but at least a partial antidote.

Islam and Catholicism: Beyond reason versus faith | The Economist.

Germany To Fund Anti-Semitism Education for Muslim Youth – Forward.com

Much of the focus of Canadian Holocaust Centres is reaching the diverse communities of Canada, not just Muslims, to increase awareness and understanding of the Holocaust and its lessons:

Felix Klein, Germany’s special representative for relations with Jewish organizations, is in Washington this week to meet with Jewish groups and with Obama administration officials because of American concerns about a spike in anti-Semitism in Germany during the recent Israel-Hamas conflict in the Gaza Strip.

Many of the offenders were Muslims, and many of those were members of Germany’s substantial Turkish minority.

“Sometimes, we hear it is difficult to teach the Holocaust” to Muslim students, Klein told JTA in an interview Wednesday at the German embassy in Washington.

“We would give special tools that would interest young Muslims, that would incorporate the role of Turkey” during World War II, he said.

Klein said there was a “feeling of unease” among Germany’s 100,000 Jews after the spate of anti-Semitic incidents.

Germany To Fund Anti-Semitism Education for Muslim Youth – Forward.com.

Three Cheers for Pluralism Over Separatism – Friedman

Friedman on pluralism vs. separatism (or federalism vs separatism):

Why is pluralism such a big advantage today? Two reasons: politics and innovation. Before I explain, though, it’s worth recalling: What is pluralism? I like the definition that the Pluralism Project at Harvard offers on its website: “pluralism is not diversity alone, but the energetic engagement with diversity” because “mere diversity without real encounter and relationship will yield increasing tensions in our societies.” A society being “pluralistic” is a reality see Syria and Iraq. A society with pluralism “is an achievement” see America.

Pluralism, it also notes, “does not require us to leave our identities and our commitments behind. … It means holding our deepest differences, even our religious differences, not in isolation, but in relationship to one another.” And, it posits that real pluralism is built on “dialogue” and “give and take, criticism and self-criticism” — and “dialogue means both speaking and listening.”

Or, as we would say with respect to multiculturalism, integration and accommodation, rather than more Cartesian fixed ideas of how the world should be.

But pluralism, like multiculturalism and interculturalism, have a certain plastic quality and can be interpreted differently, ranging from deep (parallel social institutions like faith-based schools and laws) and shallow (common institutions like public schools and common legal framework).

So the question becomes less the term used, but rather what it means or how it is interpreted (a mistake that most critics of multiculturalism make).

Three Cheers for Pluralism Over Separatism – NYTimes.com.

Canadian government revoking passports of citizens trying to join extremist groups

Sensible measure:

He [Alexander] would not disclose the number of passports Citizenship and Immigration Canada had revoked over the conflict but said there were “multiple cases.” The government says about 30 Canadians are with extremist groups in Syria and 130 are active elsewhere.

“Yes, I think it’s safe to say that there are cases of revocation of passports involving people who’ve gone to Syria and Iraq already,” Mr. Alexander said. “I just don’t want to get into the numbers, but multiple cases.”

The action means Canadian fighters in Syria and Iraq may effectively be stranded there. Their passports are no longer valid and therefore cannot be used to return to Canada. Nor could they be used to travel elsewhere.

…. Mr. Alexander said while they were few in number, he was troubled that Canadians had joined ISIS, which has been committing widespread atrocities in an attempt to impose its militant version of Islamic law on Syrians and Iraqis.

“We are not by any means the leading contributor of foreign fighters to Syria, even though the dozens that are there and the 130 that are abroad [with other extremist groups] is a disturbing number for all Canadians. But we want to ensure that Canada’s good name is not besmirched by these people any more than it already has been and that Canadians are protected.”

Canadian government revoking passports of citizens trying to join extremist groups

Jean Chrétien gave U.K. government advice ahead of Scotland referendum – Politics – CBC News

Interesting commentary by former PM Chrétien on the Scottish referendum and the consultations the UK government had with him (and likely others) regarding the Canadian 1995 referendum (the cliffhanger with about 1 percent margin for the no side):

“It’s always more complicated to manage the No side than the Yes side, because the Yes side is appealing to the heart and the nostalgia of the past and so on. And when you deal with the No, you deal with the reality of life.”

“Diving into the dark might be exciting, but you have to find out if there’s water in the swimming pool before diving,” Chrétien said.

Jean Chrétien gave U.K. government advice ahead of Scotland referendum – Politics – CBC News.

For those who have not seen it, the film No, on the Chilean 1988 referendum on whether Pinochet could extend his rule for a further 8 years, recounts a successful positive campaign on the inherent negative of a “no.”

It is a very funny yet serious film and the tension between the activists, who wanted to be serious, and the young advertising executive, who employed marketing methods “we need a jingle” and “allegria” (happiness) to seek the no.

UK and US Muslim communities key to tackling rise of Islamic extremism?

Starting with the UK:

‘As the prime minister said, the root of these actions lies in a poisonous political ideology that a small minority supports. In contrast, Islam is a religion which is observed peacefully and devoutly by more than a billion people.’

But commenting on Mr Brokenshire’s remarks, Nadim Nassar said distancing the extremism from Islam would not help the problem.

‘Mr Brokenshire is right to condemn these horrible acts of terrorism in Iraq and Syria,’ he told Lapido, ‘and to work with the community to get some aid to those areas. I do not agree that the problem is purely political and ideological because the extremists are abusing religion for political ends and they are recruiting religious leaders to help them.‘

It is simplistic to say that this is “nothing to do with Islam or any other faith”. Young people are being recruited not through political speeches; they are being recruited by religious leaders that use the Quran and the Hadith. We have to acknowledge that Islamic extremism is not a true representation of Islam any more than the Crusades are a true representation of Christianity; in both cases, however, they are “to do with” Islam and Christianity.’

Muslim communities key to tackling rise of Islamic extremism? | Lapido Media – Centre for Religious Literacy in World Affairs.

And from the US, a more theological message:

The Prophet Muhammad, who was a head-of-state as well as a prophet, established a society that is the model to all Muslims. That state was declared a sanctuary, protecting and securing all members of his community including non-Muslims. He said that the Jews were a community alongside the Muslims. They had their religion and the right to practice their customs and religious laws. Fourteen hundred years later, the advancement of civilization made by Islam remains idealistic to all Muslims today. At the very least, let these ideals can extinguish the venom from ISIS.

That’s the message that needs to be conveyed to Muslims worldwide in order to isolate ISIS from Islam and provide Islam as the antidote to the ideological distortion of ISIS and its destructive ambitions. That’s the substance in countering the narrative of violent extremism. It needs a vehicle and that’s where media, government and civil society can help.

The Key to Defeating ISIS Is Islam

Christie Blatchford: Canada shows lack of kindness in deporting harmless Pakistani woman

Blatchford on the case of a Pakistani woman being deported despite the risks facing her back in Pakistan and a request to put the deportation order on hold by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights:

But that order was put on hold at the request of the UN high commissioner for human rights; Canada is a signatory to the convention against torture and other such treatment. Mr. Khan says he has the documents to prove it, but we ran out of time on Tuesday for him to get them to me.

The thing is, though the UN request to delay the deportation makes what happened here more egregious, I don’t care about it. And though I take Mr. Khan and Ms. Bibi at their word that the allegations against her are fraudulent, not to mention ludicrous, I don’t particularly care about that either. If a Pakistani woman has the courage to take a boyfriend, I say good on her. I also accept that her life may be in danger back in her home country, and I certainly hope it isn’t, but it’s not even that which galls me most.

What harm was she doing anyone, living her secure and simple life in Saskatoon, working in her friend’s restaurant, checking in every week just as she was supposed to do, getting by? Who was she hurting?

Even if the worst thing she faces in Pakistan is poverty and fear and the normal oppressive anti-woman air in that country, she had a better life here, and as a fifth-generation Canadian, I wanted that for her.

We can afford such kindnesses in this big, empty country.

Hard to disagree.

Christie Blatchford: Canada shows lack of kindness in deporting harmless Pakistani woman

Her follow-up column regarding the Government’s cruel mishandling of her case:

Jason Tamming, spokesman for and press secretary to federal Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Minister Steven Blaney, courteously replied Wednesday with a one-size-fits-all statement to my specific questions about Ms. Bibi’s case. I noted he managed to answer neither question, and asked again why Canada didn’t comply with the request from the UN committee against torture. Are such requests now utterly meaningless, I asked?

Mr. Tamming didn’t reply. I take his silence, and Canada’s conduct, as a resounding yes.

Christie Blatchford: Judge rejected Pakistani woman’s refugee claim because husband hadn’t disowned her

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