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

The Dangers of Blaming Trump for Anti-Semitism – The Atlantic

Good column by Peter Beinart:

But it now appears that Trump may have been, partially, right. On Thursday, Israeli police arrested a Jewish Israeli American teenager for leveling some of the bomb threats. Earlier this month, prosecutors charged Juan Thompson, an African American who had previously worked at a left-leaning publication, with some of the others. There’s no evidence that either suspect tried to frame Trump supporters or white supremacists. And it’s still possible that right-wingers called in other bomb threats, or committed some of the other anti-Semitic incidents that have erupted since Trump’s election. Still, if two of the primary perpetrators of the JCC bomb scares turn out to be a Jewish Israeli and a left-leaning African American, that will, indeed, turn out to be “the reverse” of what Trump’s critics expected.

Trump’s critics—and I’m one of them—should learn from that.

Many critics have a narrative in their heads: That Trump and his supporters think and do bigoted things. It did not come out of nowhere. Trump really did say that “Islam hates us” and that a judge could not be impartial because he was Mexican American. He really did run a closing campaign ad that featured three Jews alongside language about “special interests” and a “global power structure” that has “trillions of dollars at stake in this election.” Most of his supporters really do dislike Muslims, according to polls. And some of them assaulted African Americans who protested Trump’s rallies.

Still, narratives can explain too much. Trump is like the kid in class who perpetually misbehaves. Liberals—especially Jewish liberals—risk becoming the teacher who sees graffiti written on a locker and sends him to the principal without carefully checking the handwriting.It’s not just the JCC bomb scares. It’s become commonplace to hear Jewish liberals claim that, in the words of former Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Trump has given “license and permission to anti-Semites” and thus “opened the floodgates” for anti-Semitic attacks.

But have the floodgates really opened? According to the FBI, anti-Semitic incidents did rise 9 percent between 2014 and 2015, when Trump announced his candidacy. And New York City has announced that there were substantially more anti-Semitic incidents during the first two months of 2017 than during the equivalent period in 2016. But neither the FBI nor the Anti-Defamation League has yet reported national data for 2016. And defining what constitutes an anti-Semitic incident is tricky. If the JCC bomb threats—many of which appear to have been carried out by an Israeli Jew—boost the numbers, does that really show that anti-Semitism is rising in Trump’s America?

If data on rising anti-Semitism is thin, data on rising anti-Semitism by Trump supporters is even thinner. The ADL did find last year that many of the anti-Semitic tweets directed at Jewish journalists came from pro-Trump accounts. Still, there’s no evidence that Trump supporters are behind the recent spike in anti-Semitic incidents, if there even is a real spike. And a February Pew Research Center poll found that Republicans and evangelical Christians—two core Trump constituencies—feel even more favorably towards Jews than Democrats do. Since Trump’s takeover of the GOP, Republican fondness for Jews has actually increased.

If liberals have been too quick to blame Trump supporters for anti-Semitism, they’ve also been too quick to blame Trump’s advisors. Liberals frequently hurl the charge at Steve Bannon or his old publication, Breitbart. But the two Breitbart articles critics most commonly call anti-Semitic—an attack on the Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol that called him a “renegade Jew” and an attack on the Washington Post columnist Anne Applebaum that called her “a Polish, Jewish, American elitist scorned”—were both written by Jews. And even the former Breitbart columnist Ben Shapiro, who calls Bannon “one of the most vicious people in politics,” doesn’t think he’s an anti-Semite. Jewish liberals often accuse Sebastian Gorka of anti-Semitism too because of his associations with far-right groups in Hungary. Yet they’ve never produced a single anti-Semitic thing he’s said.

The problem is this. Trump really is fomenting hate against certain groups. He’s called Islam America’s enemy. Gorka won’t even acknowledge that Islam is a religion. Bannon has proposed closing “seditious” mosques. Breitbart hypes every act of violence by a Muslim or an undocumented Mexican against a white person. What’s happening to Jews, by contrast, is far less severe. Yes, Trump was slow to condemn anti-Semitic attacks. Yes, his presidency pleases alt-right white nationalists like Richard Spencer. But unlike Muslims and immigrant Mexicans, Jews wield influence in the Trump White House. They’re mostly white. They’re highly assimilated. And Republicans like them. There’s a reason that, according to Pew, Republicans are almost thirty points more likely to feel warmly towards Jews than towards Muslims. Republicans consider Jews part of the West.

For Jews, this is strange. When they see their government foment hyper-nationalist bigotry, their historical memory inclines them to see themselves as its target. But for the most part, they’re not. As opportunists usually do, Trump and his advisors are going after weaker prey: less assimilated minorities who Fox News has already been demonizing for a decade or more. Anti-Semitism isn’t central to this spasm of American nativism in the way it was a century ago. There’s nothing wrong with being vigilant about anti-Semitism so long as it doesn’t blind you to reality. Strange though Jews may find it, this time they aren’t the main show.

Source: The Dangers of Blaming Trump for Anti-Semitism – The Atlantic

How a Crazy Idea About Islam Went From the Fringe to the White House | Mother Jones

The Islamophobia ‘industry’ and its influence:

In 2011, shortly after the controversy over the so-called Ground Zero mosque and the spread of a conspiracy theory that Shariah was taking over America, the Center for American Progress published a lengthy report titled “Fear Inc.,” which documented what amounted to a cottage industry of Islamophobic misinformation. Prominent players include Act for America, a “national security” group that currently boasts Flynn as a board member. Another is Frank Gaffney, the founder of the Center for Security Policy, which has pushed the unlikely notion that Islamists are secretly trying to infiltrate the American government and prominent organizations—including the National Rifle Association—through a process he calls “civilization jihad.”

“These were people who were always on Fox News, being cited on Pamela Geller’s blog, who were always on Sean Hannity, the Christian Broadcast Network, the National Review, and others,” says Faiz Shakir, the national political director of the American Civil Liberties Union and one of the authors of the report. (Pamela Geller writes a prominent anti-Muslim blog.) “You had major political groups who were then taking this and getting it into the mouths of lawmakers. At that time it was Allen West, Herman Cain, and Michele Bachmann. We went through a period where we had really fought back and marginalized some of these voices,” says Shakir. “They lost some credibility and respect in Republican circles—until Donald Trump came around. He gave them the biggest platform they ever could have imagined.”

This network also had links with what would become Trump’s inner circle. Gaffney appeared on Bannon’s radio show 34 times. Gorka, a former Breitbart editor, has regularly appeared at Center for Security Policy events and on Gaffney’s own radio program. Gaffney once defended the disgraced former FBI agent turned anti-Muslim crusader John Guandolo—who has said that mosques in the United States “do not have a First Amendment right to anything” and has helped draft anti-Muslim legislation.

Trump himself has expressed some of the key tenets of the Islamophobic right. In late 2015, Trump proposed a total ban on Muslims entering the country, justifying the idea by citing a debunked survey commissioned by Gaffney’s Center for Security Policy and conducted by Kellyanne Conway, who would become Trump’s campaign manager. The survey claimed that 51 percent of those polled believe that Muslims in America should have the choice to be governed by Shariah, and a quarter agreed that violence against Americans in the United States “can be justified as part of the global jihad.” A few weeks earlier, he stated that the United States will have “absolutely no choice” but to shut down mosques because “some bad things are happening.”

There have already been previous efforts to prevent mosques from being built using the “Islam is not a religion” argument. “Those are all real efforts,” says Shakir. “They have been on the back burner and bubbling up for a long time, and now they have people in positions of power who can effectuate these radical ideologies that they’ve long held on to.” Until Trump provides some clarity on his true views, people on both sides of the issue may assume that he is unwilling to publicly state that Islam deserves the same legal status and protections as other religions.

Source: How a Crazy Idea About Islam Went From the Fringe to the White House | Mother Jones

Islamophobia in the age of Trump: Flora Toronto Sun

One of the more relatively balanced commentaries in the Toronto Sun by Surjit Singh Flora that, while not in support of mentioning islamophobia, goes much further than the committee study and recommendations of M-103:

Meanwhile, here in Canada, we have two recent, troubling incidents, which illustrate a very different response from our government.

First of all, recently in Toronto, anti-Semitic notes were found on the doors of several units at a Willowdale condo building in Toronto.

In addition, notes with the statement “No Jews” were found on the front doors of several Jewish residences in another Toronto building.

Some of the notes contained anti-Semitic slurs and some neighbours reported that their mezuzahs – blessings traditionally posted on the doorways of Jewish homes – had been vandalized.

Toronto Mayor John Tory condemned the hate-motivated vandalism and said those actions do not reflect the city’s spirit. “Anti-semitism has no place in Toronto,” he noted. “Our Jewish residents should not have to face hatred on their doorsteps.”

This comes after the recent tragic murder of six Muslims at prayer in a Quebec City Mosque. Our government’s response to this tragedy was to debate M-103 in Parliament.

Introduced by Iqra Khalid, the motion asked MPs to “condemn Islamophobia and all forms of systemic racism and religious discrimination.”

Meanwhile, Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie said, “Eliminating systemic racism, religious discrimination and Islamophobia is a national call to action. No one should ever have to think twice about calling Canada home.”

While I feel this is a well-meant act in the face of unspeakable violence and tragedy, it is short sighted of our government to single out Islamophobia in their motion.

Racism is in itself an act of violence and the murder at the Quebec City mosque is that racist violence made manifest.

Our government should condemn all discrimination equally. Symbolic acts like M-103 should be backed up with a new, comprehensive review of the legislation and enforcement powers that can give meaning and force to such well-intended symbolic gestures.

I know from personal experience the sting of distrust, disrespect and prejudice that racism inflicts on those who are new, or different, or who worship in a different way.

President Trump’s anti-Muslim and anti-immigration and refugee rhetoric may not, in itself, lead to the rise of Islamophobia and xenophobia.

But the fact a sitting President has given such clear voice to its cause should be reason for great concern for us all. The response of our Canadian government should be one of substance, not symbol.

Source: Islamophobia in the age of Trump | guest column | Columnists | Opinion | Toronto

What Donald Trump Doesn’t Understand About Anti-Semitism – The New Yorker

Thought provoking piece by James Carroll:

M-103: Canadian Muslims need this showing of solidarity: Meighen and Waldman

Good commentary by Warda Shazadi Meighen and Lorne Waldman.

The definition issue is a red herring; should the Canadian Heritage committee study Islamophobia/anti-Muslim hate along with “all forms of systemic racism and religious discrimination,” it will have to, as part of its work, adopt a working definition, where both Minister Joly and MP Khaled have been reasonably clear that its focus is on the practical impacts of discrimination, not free speech.

The critics need to read and understand the text of the motion:

The sentiments of Muslims have become perpetual casualties of wedge politics.

The continual debasing of Muslims, culminating in the recent attack in Quebec City, is precisely why it is important for Muslims to see their leaders express solidarity with them.

M-103 does precisely this in the form of a non-binding motion that condemns Islamophobia. If the motion passes, its symbolism will do much to alleviate the deep suffering of many Muslims. On a practical level, it would result in the House of Commons’s heritage committee taking tangible steps to study the issue, and perhaps make recommendations to address it.

What M-103 will not do is curb freedom of speech. M-103 is not a law. If the concern with M-103 is the limitation of free speech, the non-binding nature of the motion should assuage that anxiety. Only hate laws, which have existed in the Canadian Criminal Code for decades, can actually punish individuals for promulgating certain types of hate. Rest assured that the marketplace of ideas will continue to exist – the threshold under the law for hate speech is quite high and justifiably so. M-103 is no more than a tip of the hat in solidarity.

If the true concern with M-103 is that the term “Islamophobia” lacks clarity, the correct response is to call for a definition of that term. Here is one: the irrational fear of Muslims.

If the opposition to this motion is nothing more than a continuation of wedge politics, we ought to reflect on what type of society we are creating. To alienate Muslims who are eager to contribute to our society is unwise. Camaraderie with any minority group that is being singled out is crucial – it embodies the promise of Canada and what Canada is lauded for globally.

The Conservative Party’s effort to pass a new motion cleansed of the word “Islamophobia” and replaced with condemnation of “all forms of systemic racism, religious intolerance and discrimination of Muslims, Jews, Christians, Sikhs, Hindus and other religious communities” is obstructive and, frankly, misses the mark. It does not help to alleviate the incredibly hurt sentiments of many Muslims. It is also redundant, as the Supreme Court, in the 1990 case of Canada v. Taylor, has already banned any expression that is “intended or likely to circulate extreme feelings of opprobrium and enmity against a racial or religious group.”

Muslims are being targeted now not only in Canada but across Western liberal democracies. To oppose a motion made in solidarity with Muslim Canadians, many of whom have been weighed down by the effects of Islamophobia for too long, is tragic.

Source: M-103: Canadian Muslims need this showing of solidarity – The Globe and Mail

Factors to consider about Sharia law and M103: Kutty 

Faisal Kutty on the M-103 controversy:

For those who fear Sharia creep, it’s too late. It’s already here. For most, rather like “the golden rule,” the Sharia demands that they obey the laws of the land; live peacefully with their neighbours; don’t lie; don’t cheat; pay their taxes; respect each other; care for the underprivileged and the oppressed; and focus on making the world better for all.

In fact, scholars consider the thrust of the Sharia to be advancing human welfare. Muhamad Abdu, a prominent Al-Azhar jurist at the turn of the 19th century, once said: “I went to the West and saw Islam, but no Muslims; I got back to the East and saw Muslims, but not Islam.”

Getting past the Sharia hysteria is not enough, because opponents still have their trump card (pun intended). They don’t have a hate on for Muslims, they only object to the term “Islamophobia.” These newly minted word etymologists argue it is imprecise and precludes legitimate criticism. They counter that it is not a phobia because it is not a mental condition, but a grounded fear of bad ideas.

Au contraire, it is a phobia, because it is prejudice and bigotry towards Muslims and the irrational and exaggerated fear of an assumed, but non-existing monolithic Islam represented by the Sharia bogeyman.

It is exaggerated, because it takes the regressive interpretations of the few who justify terrorism and antimodern ideas and instinctively project it onto all Muslims.

It is irrational because it ignores the peaceful and progressive Sharia interpretations adopted by the clear majority of Muslims while authenticating only the extremist views. All 1.6 billion Muslims (except “moderates”) are painted with the same brush.

Respectful criticism of Islam and even Muslim practices is done daily by many, including Muslims. Yet the Islamophobia label is not used, because it is not done with loathing and contempt. Diversity of opinions are a recognized forte of Islamic jurisprudence.

For the past 26 years, I have critiqued the mainstream Islamic opinions on blasphemy, apostasy, the status of women, etc. I am challenged sometimes, but never have I been labeled an Islamophobe. Many in the Muslim world are persecuted for this, but it’s not for Islamophobia.

Yes, anti-Muslim hate or “Muslimophobia” work, but Islamophobia conveys the deeper, richer and more precise nature of the feelings and beliefs that drive the “othering” of Muslims.Faisal Kutty

Source: Factors to consider about Sharia law and M103 | Toronto Star

The Tories approach a point of no return and other commentary on M-103

Terry Glavin’s usual trenchant commentary:

During the debate on the motion in the House, Khalid said she defines Islamophobia as “the irrational hate of Muslims that leads to discrimination.” That’s perfectly fine, too, but what makes no sense was Khalid’s statement that she refused Conservative MP (and party leadership hopeful) Erin O’Toole’s offer to help win unanimous consent for her motion by tightening it up, because that would have meant “watering it down.”

In a parallel topsy-turviness, Joly has objected to David Anderson’s alternative motion, which replicates Khalid’s motion except for the ambiguous term Islamophobia, because it’s a “weakened and watered down version.”

It’s true to say, as Scott Reid does, that seemingly benign injunctions against “Islamophobia” have been put to the squalid purpose of placing the Muslim religion and the practices of authoritarian Islamic regimes off limits to criticism. But it’s also fair to say that “anti-Muslim bigotry” doesn’t sufficiently capture the full-throated paranoid lunacy animating the nutcase wing of the Conservative support base these days.

“Racism” doesn’t quite cover it. “Hatred” doesn’t quite get at it. Whatever term you like, it’s more than merely ironic that those who make the most hysterical claims about clandestine Islamic conspiracies at the centre of Justin Trudeau’s government are also the ones shouting the loudest that an irrational fear of Islam isn’t even a thing.

It’s not as though the Liberals are blameless in all this. They could have welcomed O’Toole’s efforts at reaching out to find a compromise, but they didn’t. And the Liberals do seem quite content to have the Conservatives squirming and chafing against the appearance that the reason they object to the term Islamophobia is that they themselves are Islamophobic, whatever that might mean. It is not as though it bothers the Liberals that the Conservatives are stuck with the crazy talk coming from several of the leadership candidates these days.

Trudeau may have given away more than he intended last week when he was confronted at a community meeting in Iqaluit about why he reneged on his electoral reform promises. Raising the spectre of proportional representation opening the door to “fringe” parties, Trudeau asked, rhetorically: “Do you think that Kellie Leitch should have her own party?”

Clearly, Trudeau doesn’t want that. For starters, it would mean decent Conservatives couldn’t be tarred so easily with the indecencies committed by the party’s fringe factions. It would mean bigot-baiting the Conservative Party would be that much harder to do. In the meantime, it’s up to the Conservatives to get themselves sorted, and after the sordid events of the past few days, their options are limited:

Isolate, quarantine, amputate or purge.

Source: The Tories approach a point of no return – Macleans.ca

Campbell Clark in the Globe:

It’s one thing for MPs to say they oppose the motion. But it’s another to accept the bogus reasoning.

One is the slippery-slope argument. Mr. Levant is telling Canadians that once a Commons committee starts studying the vague notion of Islamophobia and what to do about it, they’re going to propose laws that make it illegal to criticize Islam, and restrict free speech.

The obvious weakness in that is that Motion M-103 doesn’t even ask the committee to propose laws, nor could it force them – let alone the kind that stifle free speech. If they ever did, MPs could vote against it then. And it still could not violate constitutional guarantees on free speech.

If Conservative objections really were about a vague term, some deal-making would be in order. There are arguments that in some countries the term has been used to refer to any criticism of Islam.

Of course, this motion calls for MPs to study it, so they could define it.

But Liberals were unwilling to compromise when the Conservatives asked them to change “Islamophobia” to “hatred for Muslims.”

But it’s not about the word. Ironically, it’s about fear.

All this began when Montreal-area MP Frank Baylis started a petition last year to assert that all Muslims should not be equated with a few extremists. NDP Leader Tom Mulcair later asked for unanimous consent for a motion condemning Islamophobia – and got it on his second attempt on Oct. 26.

Conservative House Leader Candice Bergen responded to Mr. Mulcair’s motion with her own, condemning religious discrimination.

Both were adopted. The word Islamophobia was fine for Conservatives then, before they got scared.

Source:  Conservative MPs are afraid of Motion 103, and things it can’t do 

The contrary view, and the conflation of Islamophobia/anti-Muslim hate with free speech concerns, comes from Farzana Hassan in the Sun, who appears not to have understood what the motion covers and what it does not:

When we challenge a certain Islamic practice, we are careful to exclude the moderate majority and focus our attention on a small segment of the Muslim community. Yet some claim that even such discussion conflates the radicals with the moderates.

If Khalid believes such discussions include all Muslims, she is unwittingly admitting that all Muslims are indeed like the fundamentalists.

Khalid is mistaken if she believes any rational discussion on Islamic practice castigates all Muslims. She must understand that any well-intentioned and constructive discussion on a religious practice or ideology is a fundamental right of every Canadian.

There is no phobia of Islam in Canada. There is genuine resentment toward orthodox Islam. But it has little to do with the usual public discourse.

Some practices, whether we discuss them in public or not, are commonly known to be associated with orthodox Islam, such as polygamy, wife battery and ostracism of religious minorities.

It is up to moderate Muslims to distance themselves from these outrages as much as possible. So far no robust public challenge to such practices has emerged from moderate segments of the community.

Without such a grassroots challenge any social observer, professional or amateur, can form any opinion on orthodox Islam, whether positive or negative.

We know some Muslims are working to institute gender equality, and others are partners with the government in fighting terror. However, these efforts need to become the norm rather than the exception. Once this takes place, the world will automatically begin to see Muslims in positive light.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has talked about finding the right balance between protecting a religious minority and also protecting our Charter rights.

The answer to his dilemma is simple: Do not put the slightest dent in our right to free speech.

To balance this, the prime minister can take more measures to protect the security of all minorities with tighter law enforcement and stricter punishments for alleged offenders like Alexandre Bissonnette.

Source: I’m a liberal Muslim and I reject M-103

Lastly, an article on Iqra Khalid’s reading out the hateful emails and tweets she has received, providing proof of the validity of M-103 and its specific reference:

The Liberal MP who tabled an anti-Islamophobia motion says she has been inundated with hate mail and death threats.

Mississauga, Ont. MP Iqra Khalid told the House of Commons today she received more than 50,000 emails in response to M-103, many of them with overt discrimination or direct threats.

“I have asked my staff to lock the office behind me as I now fear for their safety,” she said. “I have asked them not to answer all phone calls so they don’t hear the threats, insults and unbelievable amount of hate shouted at them and myself.”

She described a “chilling” video posted on YouTube that called her a terrorist sympathizer and disgusting human being.

“‘I’m not going to help them shoot you, I’m going to be there to film you on the ground crying. Yeah, I’ll be there writing my story with a big fat smile on my face. Ha ha ha. The Member got shot by a Canadian patriot,'” she read, quoting from the video.

And that, she said, was just tip of the iceberg. Here are some other messages she received and read in the House:

  • “Kill her and be done with it. I agree she is here to kill us. She is sick and she needs to be deported.”
  • “We will burn down your mosques, draper head Muslim.”
  • “Why did Canadians let her in? Ship her back.”
  • “Why don’t you get out of my country? You’re a disgusting piece of trash and you are definitely not wanted here by the majority of actual Canadians.”

Khalid said she has also received many messages of support.

Source: ‘Kill her and be done with it’: MP behind anti-Islamophobia motion reads out hate mail

Andrew Coyne: Hysteria from Conservatives over harmless motion on Islamophobia

Andrew Coyne calls out the Conservatives in their opposition to M-103. Again, the hypocrisy given the extent that the Conservative government singled out antisemitism.

Particular anti-racism and discrimination messaging and programming is not in conflict with general messaging and programming, as long as the link is made clear (which M-103 does). Some of the previous government’s messaging on antisemitism was less clear in that regard:

Conservatism used to have some claim to being a coherent political philosophy. Of late it has become a series of dares. The most extreme voice will lay down the most extreme position, then challenge others to endorse it.

As often as not this has nothing to do with conservatism. It is rather a kind of moral exhibitionism, populist virtue-signalling, in which the object is to say and do the most intolerant or ill-considered thing that comes to mind — anything that might attract the condemnation of bien-pensants in the media and elsewhere, whose opposition becomes proof in itself of its merits.

The willingness to court such controversy in turn becomes the test of political purity. To demur, conversely, can only be a sign of cowardice, or worse, liberalism, a heresy that would seem to have overcome much of the conservative movement, to judge by the ever-lengthening list of the excommunicated.

So we come to the latest of these blooding exercises, the “debate” over Motion 103, a private member’s motion introduced by Liberal MP Iqra Khalid. In the fevered imaginings of its online discussants, #M103 is decried as a bill that would forbid any criticism of Islam, if not the first step towards imposing Sharia law. I only wish I were exaggerating.

This hysteria campaign has been whipped up by exactly the people you’d expect, and pandered to by people of whom you might have expected better, including several Conservative leadership candidates. Pierre Lemieux has denounced it as “an attack on free speech.” Maxime Bernier asks whether “it is a first step towards restricting our right to criticize Islam.” Lisa Raitt, Andrew Scheer, and Erin O’Toole have all come out against it, while Kellie Leitch, bless her heart, has set up a petition to “Stop Motion 103,” complete with a blue-eyed model with a gag over her mouth.

The only candidate to say he will vote in favour of the motion is Michael Chong. For this he has been excoriated as a sellout; it rather confirms him as a man of judgment and conscience. There is simply no reasonable construction of the motion that can support the claims made of it. It is not a bill, for starters: it is a simple motion, an expression of opinion, of no legal force or effect. It does not call for any ban or restriction on speech of any kind.

It merely asks the government to “recognize the need to quell the increasing public climate of hate and fear,” condemns “Islamophobia and all forms of systemic racism and religious discrimination,” and instructs a committee of Parliament to study the matter. Yes, the motion is clumsily worded, and yes, it specifically mentions “Islamophobia.”

But the notion that this amounts to “singling out” one religion for “special privileges,” as some have claimed, is specious.

Yes, of course, all religious groups should be free of discrimination and hatred. But it does no disservice to the others to pay particular attention to one, at a time when that group is particularly exposed to both. After the slaughter of six Muslims at prayer in Quebec City, people of goodwill, not to say common sense, would understand why it might be timely for all of us to offer some assurance to members of that community.

It is, at the same time, understandable why there would be some nervousness around this subject. There is a certain school of Islam that would indeed place severe legal constraints on the right to criticize or ridicule the faith, just as there are lots of people, especially on the left, who would eagerly censor all sorts of “insensitive” speech.

This is what makes these issues so maddeningly elusive of resolution: it is not one thing or the other, but both at the same time. We live in a time both of much more widespread and open expressions of racism — thanks, internet — and of acute hypersensitivity to rude or even frank speech of all kinds. Each feeds off the other. But the alternative to “political correctness” is not bigotry and intolerance, and the answer to racism is not censorship. Indeed, we have too much of that already.

I’m not sure how many of those either praising Chong or denouncing him for his stand on Motion 103 are aware that he has at the same time proposed repealing Section 319 of the Criminal Code: the “hate speech” provision. But he is as correct in the latter stance as the former. Even a free society allows some exceptions to the liberties it enjoys — but a free society always insists that any such exception be, to borrow the language of our Charter, “demonstrably justified.”

The burden of proof is always on those who wish to restrict freedom to show why they must. At the very least they must show what harm it is they wish to address. In the case of “hate speech,” the harm is supposed to be the violence towards its objects that might ensue. But the Criminal Code already contains provisions against incitement to violence: that is, where the connection between the speech, and the violence that might reasonably be expected to result, is so immediate, so direct and so clear as to be “beyond a reasonable doubt.”

With the hate speech law, on the other hand, the fear is more generalized, more vague, more dubious: somebody somewhere might read this who might someday then be motivated to attack … someone. That is no basis for any kind of law, let alone one that would restrict something so vital as speech. If the other Conservative candidates want to fight censorship, let them join Chong in that cause, rather than this shameless demagoguery over a harmless motion.

Source: Andrew Coyne: Hysteria from Conservatives over harmless motion on Islamophobia | National Post