Robert Fulford: A history of ‘Islamophobia,’ a word of dubious value

I always find it surprising that some people can can devote column space to the word Islamophobia without any discussion of the real world issues of discrimination and prejudice that many Canadian and other Western Muslims have experienced. This is essentially a more sophisticated version of the earlier commentary by Candice Malcolm (M-103 weaponizes what a ‘phobia’ is).

A cop-out IMO. One could argue that an excessive focus on the word Islamophobia is in itself a reflection of Islamophobia (or if you wish, anti-Muslim attitudes):

Every era has special words that ignite resentful arguments and reveal difficult emotions. There’s no doubt that Islamophobia is our word, a painful term that’s hard to avoid.

It functions as a rhetorical weapon. Whoever uses it (and many do) is trying to convict someone else of chauvinism and a thoughtless prejudice against Muslims and Islam. It’s a protective word, a shield against Muslims being damaged by criticism and argument.

Pascal Bruckner, the French philosopher, who has spent a great deal of time working on this issue, summarizes his opinion in a few words: “There’s No Such Thing as Islamophobia. Critique of religion is a fundamental Western right, not an illness.”

A phobia is a medical term, an anxiety disorder stirred up by irrational fear of heights, or perhaps spiders or snakes and other repellent creatures. Few would confess to feeling that way about Islam. Fewer still would seek treatment of their negative reactions to Islam.

Islam is a titanic force in this era and we talk about it and write about it often. But we hardly know how to express ourselves. We stutter and stammer when it comes up and sometimes we may use words like Islamophobia to censor ourselves. From Barack Obama down we have wrestled with attempts to define Islam or interpret it. Obama actually said that the Islamic State is not Islamic, as if he would know. He said Islam is a religion of love and peace, to which the only honest reply is: Sometimes Yes, sometimes No.

Our thinking on this subject can be affected by a sense of guilt, conscious or unconscious. Many Muslims are from places conquered and then dominated by European imperialists. Bruckner has investigated this fact in his book, The Tyranny of Guilt: An Essay on Western Masochism.

“Nothing is more Western than hatred of the West,” Bruckner says. “All of modern thought can be reduced to mechanical denunciations of the West, emphasizing the latter’s hypocrisy, violence, and abomination.”

The hard truth is that many non-Muslims find it difficult to speak about (or to) Muslims. Our intentions are confusing, even to us. We hope for good relations with Muslims who live among us and we assume that they are as appalled as we are by violence committed in the name of their religion. We also hope they know that Islam, though sacred to them, is also the scourge of millions when it’s interpreted literally by blindly self-righteous mass murderers.

We know they seem more sensitive, in a way, than others. They can’t easily shrug off humiliation. Le Monde in Paris pointed out that Charlie Hebdo, the satire magazine, devoted only four per cent of its covers to ridiculing the Prophet Mohammed; meanwhile, the same artists had been mocking Jesus, Moses, the Dalai Lama, and the various popes for 40 years. But Islamist killers were so offended by the four per cent that, in January 2015, they assassinated most of the staff.

Le Monde’s comparison means nothing. The killers could reason that Jesus, the popes and the rest are of little importance. The Prophet, on the other hand, is a crucial figure in their daily lives and they must protect him from humiliation.

Bruckner is of course right when he says that critique of religion is a fundamental Western right, but committed Muslims are not entirely in the West. They are in a larger place, the world they imagine, where no such right exists. Perhaps they know that Christianity and Judaism broke into pieces because their rules permitted serious, long-ranging criticism of their most basic principles.

The word Islamophobia originated in the early 20th century. An early use was in a French biography of Muhammad (“islamophobie”). Sometimes it was used internally, within Islam, to identify a fear of Islam felt by liberal Muslims and Muslim feminists, rather than a fear or dislike of Muslims by non-Muslims. It was given an official imprimatur in 2004 when Kofi Annan, then the UN Secretary-General, said the word Islamophobia had to be coined in order to “take account of increasingly widespread bigotry.” From there on it was part of language, a word of dubious value.

Source: National Post | Full Comment » Full…


M-103 weaponizes what a ‘phobia’ is: Candice Malcolm

If only the federal Conservatives and conservative media had as much sense as the Ontario Conservative leader Patrick Brown (“hate is hate”).

The definition issue is a ‘blue herring’ as there is the existing definition of the Runnymede Trust and the Canadian Heritage committee will no doubt develop a working definition (as was done for antisemitism):

A phobia is a type of anxiety disorder, defined by an excessive and irrational fear of an object or situation.

It’s a medical condition, and clinical psychologists study the impact of this persistent and often debilitating illness.

But what was once a scientific term of measurable phenomenon, has now been manipulated for political purposes.

First, it was used pejoratively to describe those who oppose gay marriage.

Some activists learned that calling their opponents “homophobic” was more effective than getting into the weeds of the historic definition of marriage — and why it ought to be expanded to include same-sex relationships.

The tactic was successful, and other groups began using the “phobia” card to stifle debate and paint their opponents as bigots.

Today’s “phobias” no longer describe an irrational fear or anxiety disorder, but a person with the wrong opinion about an issue.

Homophobia, for example, is now defined as “a range of negative attitudes and feelings towards homosexuality … often related to religious beliefs.”

At least homophobia has a common definition.

Other new phobias, such as “Islamophobia”, have no agreed upon definition.

The term “Islamophobia” was popularized in the 1990s by a front group for the Muslim Brotherhood that promotes Sharia law.

It was introduced to promote victimhood amongst Muslims.

A former adherent of this group, Abdur-Rahman Muhammad, now rejects Islamist ideology and says this of Islamophobia: “This loathsome term is nothing more than a thought-terminating cliché conceived in the bowels of Muslim think tanks for the purpose of beating down critics.”

The ultimate purpose was to advance the Muslim Brotherhood’s mission — to impose Sharia law — by silencing critics and stifling free debate.

Islamophobia is more than just a new buzzword.

Its origins are tied to organizations that advocate for Islamist theocracy and to countries that impose barbaric blasphemy laws against those who criticize Islam.

This didn’t stop our Parliament, led by Liberal MP Irqa Khalid, from passing a motion specifically condemning “Islamophobia” earlier this year.

Conservative MPs offered an olive branch, suggesting the motion remove the term “Islamophobia” and replace it with a universal condemnation of “all forms of systemic racism, religious intolerance, and discrimination.”

The Liberals rejected this compromise.

The heritage committee is now studying ways to implement a “whole-of-government” approach to combatting this vague, politicized concept.

But Canada already has laws on the books covering a range of crimes that could be motivated by hatred and bigotry.

In fact, Canada has some of the English-speaking world’s most draconian rules prohibiting “hate speech” — another often vague and politicized concept.

Some hate speech laws are administered by the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal, which many see as Canada’s own version of a kangaroo court.

Canadians should be worried that M-103 may provide such bodies with more ammunition for their social justice crusades, and more power to stomp on our freedoms and impose penalties for “wrongthink”.

That’s the thing about M-103. At best, it’s sloppy and redundant grandstanding — a waste of time and resources.

At worst, it’s an exercise in the weaponization of words — a deliberate effort to stifle speech and carve out new immunity for Islamists trying to impose their religion on others.

Either way, most Canadians rightly reject this nonsense.

An Angus Reid poll found 42% of Canadians would have voted against M-103, with only 29% in support.

A mere 12% said it would be effective.

If only our Liberal government had as much common sense.

Source: M-103 weaponizes what a ‘phobia’ is | MALCOLM | Columnists | Opinion | Toronto S

Islamophobia is not colour blind: Paradkar

Good commentary on the intersection between religious and ethnic/racist discrimination and useful reminder of the Runnymede Trust’s definition of Islamophobia:

This week, the House of Commons heritage committee enters the second phase of M-103, the motion to combat Islamophobia, and begins a study on systemic racism and religious discrimination in Canada.

Its report card will hopefully contain two outcomes: Strategies to combat systemic racism, and a definition of Islamophobia that will place it in the context of Canadian laws as well as overall racism in the country.

For the latter, committee members would do well to examine a new paper out of Rice University in Texas titled, “The Racialization of Islam in the United States: Islamophobia, Hate Crimes, and ‘Flying while Brown.’ ”

“We often hear that because Muslims are not a race, people cannot be racist for attacking Muslims,” sociologist and study author Craig Considine is quoted saying in the University’s media statement. “This argument does not stack up. It is a simplistic way of thinking that overlooks the role that race plays in Islamophobic hate crimes.”

Islamophobia is not colour blind.

In the U.S., some 30 per cent of Muslims describe themselves as white, 23 per cent as Black, 21 per cent as Asian, 6 per cent as Hispanic, and 19 per cent as other or mixed race, according to the Pew Research Center in Washington.

Yet, nearly all Muslim racial or ethnic groups have higher odds of reporting one or more types of perceived discrimination than white Muslims, a 2016 study showed.

“Islamophobia does not belong in the realm of ‘rational’ criticism of Islam or Muslims; it is often discrimination against people who look different to the majority of U.S. citizens,” Considine says in the paper.

If “Driving While Black” is anti-Black racial profiling, “Flying While Brown” is anti-Muslim racial profiling leading to humiliating searches and detentions.

In any case, both are ineffectual at stopping crime or terrorism, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.

Canada has seen hate crimes against Muslims increase by 253 per cent in four years, according to a Statistics Canada report, with 45 crimes reported in 2012 and 159 in 2015.

I doubt the haters were religious scholars who had a rational critique of Islam.

Yet, attempting to condemn Islamophobia itself is seen as an attempt to stifle free speech and any criticism of the religion.

Casual anti-Islamic expressions are dotted with annoyance of visible religious markers such as head scarves on women, or an intangible fear of Sharia law, supposedly barrelling down on poor, unsuspecting us to blanket our society in darkness.

This fear that Muslims are conspiring to either destroy or dominate the West explains the hostile reception to M-103, which was a motion to speak out against discrimination.

This, although Liberal MP Iqra Khalid who brought forward the motion said quite clearly, “M-103 is not an attempt to create Sharia. I vow to oppose any law that threatens our multicultural society.”

The non-binding motion passed in March this year.

Reasonable people would shun the idea of violence against anyone based on their race or religious belief. But what is a fair critique of religion and what constitutes hate speech?

I see Islamophobia as anti-Muslim racism against predominantly brown and black-skinned people but with an added edge. Not just of superiority but also the righteous anger of fending off a menacing culture incapable of compatibility with others. It’s the conflation of all Muslims with terrorists, or impatience with cultural practices, or anger against those seen as hailing from a backward culture incapable of debate within itself.

In its 1997 report “Islamophobia: A Challenge for Us All,” a British left-leaning think tank, The Runnymede Trust, defined Islamophobia as the unfounded and close-minded fear and/or hatred of Islam, Muslims or Islamic/Muslim culture.

It identified eight components of Islamophobia, one of which included seeing it as violent, threatening or supportive of terrorism. Another included viewing it as primitive or barbaric or sexist. Using anti-Muslim hostility to exclude or discriminate against Muslims was, of course, one of the components.

Stereotyping has a lot to do with this.

Considine found that out of more than 1,000 Hollywood films depicting Arabs, 932 negatively stereotyped them. For example, Arabs/Muslims were constructed as the ominous figure: “the bearded, dark-skinned, turban-wearing terrorist guided by perceived archaic religious practices.”

This would help explain why a dark-skinned, turban-wearing Sikh man such as NDP leadership hopeful Jagmeet Singh had to fend off a ranting Islamophobe at a campaign rally. Or why a Inderjit Singh Mukker, a 53-year-old Sikh taxi driver near Chicago was beaten and bruised by a man who called him “Bin Laden” and told him to go back to his own country.

You don’t have to be Muslim to be vilified. Just being Muslim-like is enough. This is textbook racialization.

Source: Islamophobia is not colour blind: Paradkar | Toronto Star

Iqra Khalid urges MPs to take unified approach in Islamophobia study

Will be interesting to see the degree to which the Conservatives play a constructive or obstructive role in the Committee study – and whether the Liberals resist partisanship in their approach.

Their choice of witnesses will be as revealing as their interventions (don’t have the complete list to be able to assess the respective balance but the inclusion of Tarek Fatah on the Conservative list suggests that their approach may not have changed):

The inclusion of the phrase Islamophobia in a hotly debated motion passed by the House of Commons last year was meant as an example of forms of racism, the Liberal MP who sponsored the proposal said Monday.

Iqra Khalid told the House of Commons heritage committee that her motion calling for parliamentarians to condemn Islamophobia and for a study on systematic racism and religious discrimination was about the study itself that began Monday.

“It uses the example of Islamophobia to make a larger point about the problem of all forms of systemic racism and religious discrimination — that we have to find ways to tackle that broad problem in Canada as a whole,” Khalid said.

Khalid said she was motivated to introduce M-103 after hearing several stories of racist acts against different faiths in the fall of 2016. When she looked into the issue, she found the statistics to provide context to the problem were lacking and something had to be done.

“The objective of the motion was to bring forward this study, it is upon this committee as a whole to take that unified approach to study the issue, to work with each other to find those recommendations to assist us as policy makers,” she said.

Khalid’s motion passed in a vote of 201-91 last spring. It called on MPs to recognize something had to be down to “quell the increasing public climate of hate and fear,” and to that end, the House ought to condemn Islamophobia and all forms of systemic racism and religious discrimination and direct the heritage committee to study the issue, including how better to gather hate crime data.

The conflict around the motion centered largely around the word Islamophobia, setting off protests on Parliament Hill and arguments across the country over the meaning and implications of the phrase.

Khalid told the committee she defines it as “irrational fear or hatred of Muslims or Islam” that leads to discrimination.

But opponents say the word it is vague and essentially means criticism against Islam of any kind is forbidden, and some saw Khalid’s motion as the first step in criminalizing that criticism. Conservative news outlet Rebel Media seized on that issue with gusto, forcing it into the Conservative leadership race as contenders were grilled on their positions.

The Conservatives had sought to remove the phrase and instead broaden the motion to refer to multiple faiths.

They lost over objections from the Liberals that they would be watering down Khalid’s effort. Several Conservatives raised their own motion in quizzing Khalid on Monday about her intentions.

“Both of us would have liked to have found ourselves on the same side of the vote in the House on the issue,” Conservative David Anderson said.

“We are sir,” Khalid replied.

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May said she had never seen as much “fomented anger, concern and misconception” around a House of Commons motion as she heard around Khalid’s.

She and other MPs told Khalid they’d received calls that the motion would lead to Islamic religious law, known as Sharia, being introduced in Canada or that it would give Islam a protected status in Canada greater than that of other religions.

Khalid was asked to directly address some of the specific concerns, but didn’t tackle them all, saying while there were misconceptions, it was time to move forward.

“The conversation that Canadians had over the past number of months was a very important conversation,” Khalid said.

“It is a great way to lead up to this study.”

Source: Iqra Khalid urges MPs to take unified approach in Islamophobia study – The Globe and Mail

Too many Canadians don’t recognize the Islamophobia in their country

Melayna Williams on Islamophobia:

Indeed, plenty of work has already been done to capture, contextualize and fully understand what Islamophobia means. A paper published in 2011 by the Ontario Human Rights Commission highlights the “negative stereotyping and discrimination as a result of pre-existing perceptions of Muslims as ‘different’ from the rest of Canadian society, along with negative associations of their communities with violence and terrorism” in the decade following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in New York City.

These problems even occur in institutions that pledge tolerance and inclusion, like Canadian universities. Following the Quebec City mosque attack, Muslim students publicly recounted incidents that are part of their daily reality: the defacing of posters for a conference on Islam at Durham College and the University of Ontario Institute of Technology; and the distributing of anti-Muslim flyers and insults on student election materials at McGill University, the University of Calgary and the University of Ottawa. A student at Simon Fraser University was told to remove her hijab, and horrifyingly, last year, a woman had her hijab pulled, was punched and spat on in a grocery store in London, Ont.

We don’t need more evidence—yet there’s still denial by many white Canadians. Exercising privilege in this way has clear detrimental effects, argues Tim Wise, an anti-racism writer and activist. “That white Americans don’t by and large see what people of colour see doesn’t mean that white folks are horrible people, of course,” he writes in an essay called “White Denial.” “What it does suggest is a degree of isolation and provincialism that should lead us to think twice before pontificating about a subject that we simply don’t have to know nearly as well as those who are the targets of it.”

This is why “recognition of Muslims as part of the fabric of this country is so critical,” argues Shirazi. Many Canadians have the luxury of not acknowledging racism, and they’ve done so to the extent that white denial has become its own narrative. Any attempt to ignore the problem—or treat its victims as “other”—undercuts any effort toward inclusion in the next 150 years.

Source: Too many Canadians don’t recognize the Islamophobia in their country –

Jasmin Zine: Let’s worry more about violent Islamophobes—and less about writers who fear being called ‘Islamophobic’ 

Jasmin Zine on Barbara Kay:

I let her know that plenty of people use terms like, say, “racism” without having a textbook definition for it, but they know when they experience it or witness it.

When I read Barbara’s Kay’s column about me, it was with a mixture of anger, frustration and a heavy heart.

I informed her that I found the traditional definition of Islamophobia as a “fear or hatred of Islam and Muslims” to be limiting. So in my definition, I place it in a broader sociological framework where fear and hatred manifest into individual, ideological, and systemic practices (on this, other scholars might differ). Individual practices include things like name-calling, vandalism, assaults, and the like. And that the ideologies that justify these actions include stereotypes such as seeing Islam as a violent faith or seeing Muslims as terrorists, or as people who do not accept “Canadian values,” and these notions are inculcated into systemic practices such as racial profiling and domestic security policies targeting Muslims.

In my exchange with Kay, I pointed out that while she often criticized the concept of Islamophobia in her writing, I was surprised that she did not have a definition of it herself. And, yet, her lack of knowledge on the subject had not stopped her from critiquing something she was clearly unsure about.

She began to lecture me about “free speech,” proceeding to argue that a non-binding federal motion — one that looks to study manifestations of Islamophobia in Canada in the aftermath of a massacre of Muslim men praying in a Canadian mosque — would curtail her right to criticize Islam. I reminded her that hate-speech laws would govern what can and cannot be said within the boundaries of lawful dissent. While the law permits a legitimate critique of religion, the demonization of a particular faith is different. This type of demonization becomes mapped onto its adherents and can lead to mass violence and genocide, and to argue otherwise works against the weight of history. Kay might not see how Islamophobia and anti-Muslim racism and violence are connected, but we have already seen how this has led to unprecedented and deadly consequences in our country.

It is telling that Kay admitted to me that she was concerned that after M-103 passed, her columns would be branded Islamophobic. I told her that ship had already sailed and that this motion alone would not curtail her from expressing her views. Still, it was interesting that she was more worried about being labelled Islamophobic than she was about the Islamophobia that evidently led to the deaths of six innocent Canadian men.

While Kay lamented to me the backlash against people like Bridget Bardot and Georges Bensoussan in France for their views criticizing Islam and Muslims, she has no problem lambasting my research on Islamophobia, which she paraphrases poorly, twists and takes of out context, while stopping just short of accusing me of supporting terrorism, all to further her fearmongering against Muslim academics.

Kay needs to acknowledge that the things she writes play a part in this onslaught of hate directed towards Muslims. Her rhetoric is taken up by and helps fuel the white supremacist and neo-fascist groups that are on the rise in Canada. In the aftermath of her column, since arriving home from California I’ve received several hate-filled emails, with subject lines such as “Islam is Satanic.” I admit this is nothing compared to the 50,000 hate-filled emails Khalid received after she proposed M-103 and many Muslim academics I know have received death threats.

Along with my fellow Muslim academics and our allies, I will not sit quietly as Kay discredits, maligns and slanders me and other scholars who work in this field. The day Kay applauds my work is the day I’ll be concerned. For now, attacks by her and others of her ilk confirm that I am standing on the right side of history.

Source: Jasmin Zine: Let’s worry more about violent Islamophobes—and less about writers who fear being called ‘Islamophobic’ | National Post

ICYMI: Anxiety intensifies in Toronto’s suburbs as anti-Muslim rhetoric escalates – The Globe and Mail


Hamza Aziz makes sure to stay close to a friend at all times, and his parents have told him not to be outside after dark – precautions the student never imagined would be needed in his quiet corner of suburban Toronto.

But recent tensions between his school board and some members of the community, including anti-Muslim groups, over providing space for Mr. Aziz and other students to pray as a group every Friday have heightened concerns about safety in the Peel region, just west of Toronto.

“[My parents] are afraid of hate crimes towards the Muslim community, especially since that’s been on the rise lately,” said Mr. Aziz, a high-school student in Mississauga.

That anxiety forced the Peel District School Board to step up security measures at its most recent board meeting on Wednesday evening. Police and security guards were present, guests had to sign in and show identification at the door and the meeting was videotaped. Outside, a group who covered their faces with bandanas to prevent nearby protesters from identifying them said they were there to escort people into the board office safely.

Recent incidents in Peel have caused concern among Muslims, who are among the area’s largest religious minority groups. At an earlier school-board meeting, audience members shouted anti-Muslim rhetoric, tore pages from a Koran and stepped on the religious text. More recently, an inflammatory video circulating online offered a cash reward for a recording of Muslim students using hate speech in Friday prayers.

And on Wednesday evening, Peel police were called to a Mississauga neighbourhood after graffiti with the words “White Power” was smeared on a Canada Post mailbox. The words were scrubbed off, and police say they are investigating.

Critics argue a secular school system should not accommodate religion. But Ontario boards, both public and Catholic, are legally required to provide religious accommodation when it is requested.

Devout Muslim students have observed congregational prayers, known as Jummah, in Peel schools for more than two decades. But the issue came to the forefront in the fall, when the board began reviewing whether to allow students to write their own sermons, approved by a school administrator, or be required to choose from six prewritten ones.

After some push-back from community members and students, such as Mr. Aziz, who said the decision to limit their sermons violated their right to religious freedom, the board earlier this year revised its procedure and allowed students to deliver their own sermons or choose from several prewritten ones approved by local imams.

But vocal opponents used the issue to step up their anti-Muslim rhetoric.

Mr. Aziz said he overheard those in the audience at a previous board meeting call him a terrorist. He said another person told him he was not a real Canadian. A friend has been threatened on social media, he said.

A teacher in Peel, who asked that her name be withheld because she fears for her family’s safety, said she asked her teenage son if he wanted to keep participating in Friday prayers at his Brampton school. He told her that the congregational prayer was a form of meditation for him, and he was not going to let fear stop him. The prayer is about 15 minutes.

“I think parents are feeling, ‘Are our children safe during Jummah prayers?’” she said, adding that her fear grew after the video offering a cash reward. “As a parent, I get afraid that what if one day that hate and negative rhetoric becomes escalated and it’s a Muslim child who ends up being in front of that heat.”

The teacher has lived in Brampton for 21 years. She said neighbours have asked her why the situation has grown so heated. Some Muslims in the community said they had been targeted on social media after they spoke out against Islamophobia.

“There is a lot of fear,” she said. “It’s hard for Muslim kids to know that there’s so much hatred against them.”

Source: Anxiety intensifies in Toronto’s suburbs as anti-Muslim rhetoric escalates – The Globe and Mail

Canada’s anti-Islamophobia study to start next month

I suspect that the Committee witnesses will have a fairly broad range of witnesses from a number of communities that overall will maintain the focus on Islamophobia/anti-Muslim while situating the issues in the broader context of racism and discrimination:

A committee study that Canada’s controversial anti-Islamophobia motion called for is likely to get underway next month, the Sun has learned.

All eyes will be on the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage as it hears from dozens of witnesses to study the ill-defined phenomenon of Islamophobia, along with other forms of discrimination and racism.

Liberal MP Iqra Khalid’s M-103 passed in the House of Commons by a vote of 201-91 on March 23 after weeks of controversy surrounding the wording of the motion. Now the committee will pick up where the motion leaves off.

While the motion supposedly denounces all discrimination, Islamophobia was the only one that received a specific mention. Khalid has stated her motion was partially inspired by E-411, an online petition exclusively focused on Islam.

A number of mainstream pundits argued during the controversy that the motion was nothing more than a gesture and would never amount to anything.

However now that the issue is headed to committee, it will result in a report that will provide recommendations that may inspire legislation.

Multiple sources confirmed to the Sun that lists of suggested witnesses have already been put forward.

Typically, Liberal, Conservative and NDP members of a committee each put forward their own party list of witnesses and then together they narrow it down to a smaller, mutually agreed upon list.

The witnesses invited to testify for this study will largely determine the scope and tone of the committee meetings. Will they give equal time to representatives of all religions, as well as the non-religious? Will those speaking about Muslim issues be liberal Muslims or more orthodox, pro-sharia voices?

Meanwhile, a petition on the government’s official e-petition website that was created to voice opposition to sharia law gaining a foothold in Canada has reached 42,000 signatures.

The petition that inspired Khalid’s motion reached 70,000 before it was closed for signatures.

Source: Canada’s anti-Islamophobia study to start next month | Canada | News | Toronto S

Canada’s Misguided ‘Islamophobia’ Fixation | Bercovici

Former Harper government appointed ambassador to Israel Bercovici follows Conservative line on M-103, and assumes Trudeau government as tightly scripted as the Harper government was.

And of course, no consideration that “fair-minded” means condemnation of Islamophobia (“hate is hate”) along with antisemitism and other forms of racism and hate:

Regrettably, the government appears to be exploiting the tragic murder of six men, in prayer, at a Quebec City mosque in late January, to stifle legitimate political discussion.

“The recent killings of Muslims praying in the mosque in Quebec City is not an accident,” Liberal MP Chandra Arya stated in Parliament in mid-February. “This is the direct result of dog-whistle politics – the politics of fear and division.”

As with everything in parliament, such comments are carefully scripted by the prime minister’s office. Minister of Heritage Melanie Joly, also chimed in, accusing the opposition Conservatives of fomenting anti-Muslim sentiment for political gain.

To be clear: Ms. Khalid’s motion was introduced to parliament in December, long before the murders. If anything, the attention drawn to anti-Muslim hostility by that crime ensured that the issue was even more carefully considered by the public and legislators.

Canadians are famously fair-minded, which is precisely why they are concerned with the apparent exceptionalism being accorded Muslims. The public supports fair and non-discriminatory treatment for all and opposes special treatment being accorded to any particular group.

Even the newly retired Liberal MP, former minister of justice and international human rights legal expert Irwin Cotler said that the motion’s wording should be modified so that it does not refer to “Islamophobia.”

Official Ottawa is either tone deaf or determined to follow its exceptionalist path, a pox on the facts.

Source: Canada’s Misguided ‘Islamophobia’ Fixation | commentary

With the M-103 debate out of gas, we reflect on a squalid exercise in democracy

Campbell Clark of the Globe on M-103 – identity politics alive and well among the federal Conservatives (Liberals not completely innocent either, but better inclusion-based identity politics than the opposite):

This was a squalid exercise in democracy. Many parliamentary motions come and go unnoticed such as one condemning Islamophobia adopted unanimously Oct. 26 – it was adopted by a half-empty Commons, but the Conservative leadership had advance notice it would be proposed.

But the second one, Ms. Khalid’s, sparked a frenzy.

Even if you accepted the notion that Islamophobia is a term so ill-defined or even tainted with dangerous connotation, that still never explained the high-pitched claptrap that followed, with folks claiming that adopting the non-binding motion will not only mean a gutting of free speech but a slippery slope to the imposition of sharia law.

That’s right. Boom! Sharia! One day, you’re happily eating bacon and drinking beer and the next day, sharia law. You’d think that might not be the Liberals’ best re-election plank, but still, that was the theory. But there was nothing in the motion that led there.

Another claim was that M-103, a symbolic motion of no legal effect, would inexorably lead to a gutting of freedom of speech so one could not criticize Islam or any Islamic religious practice – apparently evading our Charter of Rights, but somehow not requiring actual legislation, or an opportunity for MPs to vote against it.

There were the conspiratorial suggestions. Columnist Tarek Fatah tweeted a photo of Ms. Khalid sitting next to Pakistan’s High Commissioner to Canada, asking why she met the diplomat before tabling motion M-103 – but it was a cropped shot from a dinner that included another Liberal MP and Conservative Salma Ataullahjan, six weeks before Ms. Khalid came up with her motion.

All this fuelled a campaign that filled the inboxes of Conservative MPs. An Angus Reid Institute poll found 42 per cent of respondents would vote against, and only 29 per cent would vote for it.

In the Commons, many Conservative MPs argued that the word Islamophobia was ill-defined – that some people had used it to argue against any criticism of Islam. They offered their own motion, condemning hatred against Muslims instead of using the word Islamophobia. But the Liberals voted against it – insisting their motion was better.

Ms. Khalid made a good argument that one shouldn’t shy away from naming the thing you want to condemn, and refused to remove the word Islamophobia. In a speech, she even offered her own simple definition, that “Islamophobia is the irrational hatred of Muslims that leads to discrimination.”

So why not put those words right into the text of her motion, defining Islamophobia? It would either allay the fears of Conservative MPs, or call their bluff. If you want to name the prejudice you condemn, why not go all the way? She dodged that simple question over and over on Thursday, then made the preposterous assertion that defining Islamophobia would have watered down the motion.

There was so much hysteria around this motion that the Liberals started to enjoy the idea that Tories would trap themselves in it. But the Liberals were derelict in their duty: When you’re facing phantoms of conspiracy, suspicion and misinformation, the response should be simple clarity.

Source: With the M-103 debate out of gas, we reflect on a squalid exercise in democracy – The Globe and Mail