From the meeting of 20 June, 2017, it was decided that the Liberal Party will be allowed to call 36 witnesses, the Conservative Party 24 and the NDP 12. Obviously, the pro-M-103 contingent, comprised by Liberal and NDP witnesses, will far outweigh any countervailing opinions that can be offered up by the Conservative Party.
From the meeting of 18 September, 2017, MP Khalid’s testimony attempted at every turn to concentrate on “all” forms of racism rather than just “Islamophobia”. Also interesting to note that many MPs remarked on the fact that their constituents have been on the blower to them demanding that free speech not be impinged and Sharia Law not be introduced in any form in Canada. There seemed to be a definite one-sidedness to the proceedings as the only type of extremism mentioned was “right wing extremism” and “white supremacy”. No mention at all of Islam or Jihad. Seems as though “Islamophobia” is already being “quelled”.
From the meeting on 20 September, 2017, Tarek Fatah spared no horses in detailing just how the “wool is being pulled over the eyes” of the Committee and the Canadian government in general. He was emphatic that the acceptance of Islamophobia as a form of religious discrimination was akin to denying Canadian Muslims the right to defend themselves from the religious bigots (mullahs) that they came to Canada to escape. He went on to state that hundreds of Canadian mosques are under the influence of extremist, Muslim Brotherhood operatives. He did not relent in his message that Islamophobia, as currently understood in Canadian parlance, is not what the Committee thinks it is. He stated that Muslims against Sharia Law were not held in the same esteem as Muslims who worked for the establishment of such law in Canada and that the Committee “scoffed” at those who oppose Sharia Mr. Katsuya was equally remarkable as he stated the greatest potential source of Canadian hate crimes and terrorism resided in a rising tide of “alt-right” forces. He offered no evidence for such a claim save for the Quebec mosque attack of 29 January, 2017. In this particular case, he offered no substantiation of claims that the perpetrator was motivated by hate and not asked to explain the fact that no charges of hate or terror had yet been leveled in the case. He stated that a flame of insecurity was being fanned by “trash” radio that had gone too far and his solution was to clamp down on the free speech rights of such entities.
From the meeting on 25 September, 2017, Ayesha S. Chaudhry, Associate Professor and Chair holder of Canada Research Chair in Religion, Law and Social Justice, offered the Quebec City mosque attack as evidence of the scourge of white supremacism and radicalization in Canada. No mention was made of the fact that “hate” or “terrorism” charges had been made in the case to date. She also stated that media was a part of the problem when they display their Islamophobic tendencies in the reporting of violence perpetrated by Muslims. She thought that education programs for the media would be a good idea.
Avvy Yao-Yao Go, Clinic Director, Chinese and Southeast Asian Legal Clinic, cited the wage gap between women of race and “non-racialized” men as evidence of systemic racism. Solutions included the collection of race-based data but did not recommend the collection of data that would shed light on the types and rates of crimes committed by “racialized” communities. Interestingly, she believed race explained discrepancies in wages and poverty even as she noted this was not the case with the Pilipino and Japanese communities.
From the meeting of 27 September, 2017, Raymond J. de Souza, as an individual, noted that “secular fundamentalism” was capable of driving religious views and inputs from the public square under the premise that such views were “tainted”.
Peter Bhatti, Chairman, International Christian Voice, was very concerned over the vagueness surrounding the term Islamophobia. He stated that this term was creating anxiety in his Pakistani Christian community across Canada as they fear that the suffocation and oppression they escaped in Pakistan, by virtue of Islamic blasphemy laws, will create the same conditions in Canada.
Jay Cameron, Barrister and Solicitor for Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, mentioned previous testimony that called for the suppression of “trash radio”. This suggestion was not applicable in the Canadian context as, in Canada, citizens, not the government, decide what is “trash”. He went on to ask if it is irrational for Canadians to fear immigration from territories that are known to be rife with violence and political instability. He challenged the Committee directly and asked if it was Islamophobic to condemn the practice of FGM.
Raheel Raza, President, Council for Muslims Facing Tomorrow, stated that we seem to be trapped by the term Islamophobia as it has been used to confuse the masses and confound free speech. Religion is an idea and ideas do not have rights – humans do. She stated Canada should be leading the reformation of Islam rather than hiding behind a motion that curtails free speech and that petition e-411 was a deflection from what is currently happening with regard to the rise of Islamic terrorism and radicalization around the world.
From the meeting of 02 October, 2017, Mr. Murray Sinclair, a Senator from Manitoba, an indigenous Canadian and a judge of 30 years stated that “systemic racism” in Canada was the result of the use of English “common law” which adversely impacts those from cultures foreign to its underpinning concepts and principles. He repudiated his own observation when he noted that the legal system was proceeding in the right direction to correct this bias but the results were getting worse. He noted that courts were now accommodating indigenous backgrounds and life experiences in sentencing but more indigenous people were winding up in jail. He still believed, however, that an accounting of related laws and rules needed to be undertaken with a mind to addressing them. It would seem that he further believed that it is the responsibility of the host community to be culturally aware of indigenous ways and to make required accommodations.
Mr. Samer Mazjoub, President of the Canadian Muslim Forum was the author of petition e-411. He stated that Islamophobia is a certain thing as evidenced by data collected to date and the Quebec City mosque attack of January, 2017. He was adamant that hatred and discrimination against Muslims was a proven thing and pointed to by the fact of the passage of M-103 in the House of Commons and condemnation of Islamophobia in multiple provincial legislatures. It was further asserted that the term Islamophobia was in no way meant to curtail freedom of speech in Canada. In response to a question from MP Virani, Mr. Mazjoub stated that the situation was more problematic in Quebec by virtue of the Quebec City mosque attack and the evidence of white supremacist groups that openly express hatred towards Muslims on social media. The matter was not pursued further even though the fact that no terror or hate related charges had been raised in the Quebec City case or any specific evidence of hatred expressed in social media was presented.
Faisal Bhabha, Associate Professor, Osgoode Hall Law School, York University gave testimony on behalf of the Canadian Muslim Lawyers Association. He stated that the problem with the current situation is that courts apply the law on the basis of the evidence at hand and not on the basis of the social issues in play. Muslims are not the problem as it is “whites” who are attacking the “other” around the country. In response to a question from MP Baylis on whether Islamophobia meant criticism of Islam would not be permitted, he was quite evasive and said criticism of Islam was not the problem – hatred of Islam was. In a related query by MP Reid, he stated that criticism of Islam could be construed as Islamophobic based on how one defined Islam.
From the meeting of 04 October, 2017, Anver Emon, Professor of Law & Canada Research Chair in Religion, Pluralism, and the Rule of Law, University of Toronto stated that Islamophobia is already well entrenched in Canadian jurisprudence. As an example, he used the Barbaric Practices Act of 2015 and its identification of Islamic practices as establishing evidence of a predisposed inclination that augured against Islam. He did not address the counter argument that Islamic doctrines do, indeed, harbour practices that are out of step with those of a Western, liberal democracy.
Jasmin Zine, Professor, Sociology and Muslim Studies Option, Wilfrid Laurier University stated that current Canadian law permits the critique of religion but the demonization of same should fall into a different category – it is this demonization that can lead to instances such as the Quebec City mosque attack of 2017. She did not address the fact that this example might be less than pertinent as no hate or terror charges have been laid in the case. Her definition of Islamophobia included an irrational fear of both Islam and Muslims.
Ihsaan Gardee, Executive Director of the Natuional Council of Canadian Muslims, stated that a singular focus on Islamophobia was absolutely justified due to similar initiatives that dealt with anti-Semitism – not to mention the Quebec City mosque attack of 2017. In the question session, MP Sweet asked where the line between critique of Islam and its demonization occurs and whether or not Mr. Gardee agrees with the TDSB definition of Islamophobia. The question was intercepted by Ms. Zine who stated she didn’t mean to say that “demonization” should be criminalized and that the definition of Islamophobia was not as important as the fact that everyone knew what it meant – just as they know what “racism” means.
From the meeting of 16 October, 2017, Dr. Sherif Emil, Professor and Associate Chair, Department of Pediatric Surgery, Faculty of Medicine, McGill University, Director, Pediatric General and Thoracic Surgery, Montreal Children’s Hospital, went straight to the point regarding the use of the term “Islamophobia” by using the examples of Turkish President Erdogan and Egypt’s al Ahzar University. In the former case, Erdogan called Germany and the Netherlands “Islamophobic” due to their reticence in allowing Turkish officials to lobby European Turks in favour of an upcoming referendum in Turkey. In the second case, al Ahzar University officials accused a learned Egyptian scholar of being “Islamophobic” for criticizing certain tenets of the religion of Islam and noting their impact on terrorism throughout the world. He also noted that many of the Islamic State’s most horrific abuses, such as sex slavery and beheadings, came directly from the canonical texts of Islam. He stated that a fear of Islam, as practiced in many Muslim nations today, is not irrational.
Laurence Worthen, Executive Director, Christian Medical and Dental Society of Canada, stated that his organization, as a group of faithful Christians, were concerned that any group might suffer from religious discrimination. He went on to cite an incredible scenario that featured a group that bore a protected Charter characteristic that had been discriminated against by both regulation and governmental design. This group was made up of those doctors who, by virtue of their religious beliefs, were being coerced into abetting euthanasia against their will and conscience. He wondered what would happen if another group bearing another protected Charter characteristic was treated in a fashion similar to these Christian medical practitioners.
Farzana Hassan, Author and Columnist, stated that she is a Muslim woman who identifies as such. She objected to the wording and intent of Motion M-103. The term Islamophobia, she thinks, includes criticism of the ideology itself. Regarding the reason for rising anti-Muslim sentiment in Canada, she thought it was plain that the cause was the fact that the Muslim narrative is being controlled by fundamentalist voices seeking special accommodation for the religion of Islam and “political Islam”. She did not understand why the House insisted on using a term such as “Islamophobia” when it has such Islamist undertones and suits an Islamist agenda. Under questioning, she said that she did not see the provision of a “Canadian” definition of the term Islamophobia that excluded protection of the ideology and doctrine of Islam as being a good idea. She thought so as the term has already assumed a wider acceptance in the international community that incorporated such protections. Andrew P.W. Bennett, Senior Fellow of Cardus didn’t think Islamophobia was a very useful term and thought it most certainly needed to be bounded by strict underpinnings that removed the doctrine and ideology of Islam from any protected status. Under questioning, he worried that the promulgation of “national action plans” would not have the advantageous effect that some thought. Budhendranauth Doobay, Chairman, Voice of Vedas Cultural Sabha, identified himself as a Hindu. He believed that Canada had travelled far in realizing a diverse and pluralistic society. He warned, however, that pushing too far, too fast might lead to intolerance itself – behavioural changes cannot be rushed. Under questioning he suggested that the cause of fighting racism and discrimination would be aided by ensuring communities were not encouraged to “ghettoize” – they must be allowed to interact with the host nation so that they might better be able to communicate and share a common life.
From the meeting of 18 October, 2017, Reuven Bulka, Congregation Machzikei Hadas as an individual, went on to state that an approach characterized by respect and embrace of the other stood above initiatives that stress “tolerance”. He thought this was an important distinction as he saw the latter approach being more negative and forced.
Michael Mostyn, Chief Executive Officer, National Office, B’nai Brith Canada noted that the Committee should not be seen to curry favour to any one particular group. Accordingly, the Committee needed to take great care in how it defined the term “Islamophobia” – if at all. He also noted that the perpetrators of hate crimes against Jews have changed from the far right in the 80’s and 90’s to Muslims in recent times who, sometimes, cite Islamic doctrine as justifying their acts. This is of concern, not just to leaders in the Jewish community but, to those in the Muslim community as well. Given such conditions, there is a concern that M-103 paints Muslims as victims only without taking into consideration the source of such crimes. Indeed, it appears that such instances are not being punished as could be reasonably expected. The Committee is in a position to counter such trends by laying out the facts and providing the message to law enforcement that they “must enforce the law”. David Matas, Senior Legal Counsel, National Office, B’nai Brith Canada stated that M-103 mentioned only Islamophobia by name. He went on to state that fear of Islam, in some instances, is not irrational – take ISIS and al Qaeda as examples. Defeating the threat posed by hatred and violence emanating from portions of the Islamic community might be promoted by the Committee through the formation of related criteria.
Shimon Fogel, Chief Executive Officer, Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs noted that the Jewish community has long been the most targeted when it comes to hate crimes. In 2015, for instance, there were 54 cases per population of 100,000 Jews while Muslims were second with 15 per population of 100,000 Muslims. Statistics, however, needed to be seen in context as the numbers involved are extremely small given the total populations involved and the related percentages currently being quoted are subject to wide swings with small increases or decreases either way. He therefore suggested that the quality of related data needed to be improved as it varies widely from police department to police department – regulations and guidelines were needed across the board regards the standardization, collection and handling of such information.
Tamara Thomas, Policy Researcher and Analyst, African Canadian Legal Clinic expressed full support for the M-103 initiative on behalf of her organization. She went on to highlight the increasing occurrence of hate crimes against Canada’s Black community through recent reports and related statistics. She stated that Canada had a history of slavery and segregation of the African descendant community and that this pervasive attitude persists to the present day. Sikander Hashmi, Spokesperson, Canadian Council of Imams, highlighted the fact that Muslims were very happy to enjoy the benefits of living in Canada but that the government had an obligation to ensure the safety of minorities against the “tyranny” of the majority. As a form of systemic discrimination, he cited the example of Muslim children being forced to choose between prayer and school as some protested the use of public education facilities for such purposes during regular school hours.
From the meeting of 23 October, 2017, Serah Gazali, Community Member, Frog Hollow Neighbourhood House, started by stating that a group of individuals identifying as belonging to a variety of visible minorities initiated a round table discussion and developed a list of recommendations to fight systemic racism. She stated that these efforts were spurred by inputs from NDP MP Jenny Kwan. She noted the dire need to review national symbols that spoke to discrimination, genocide and colonialism in Canada. MP Reid pointed out the need to provide some sort of perspective when dealing with the erasure of Canadian symbols and leaders as such a program would likely leave the country with little or no history to celebrate. MP Anderson closed the session by asking for clarification on whether or not MP Jenny Kwan had initiated the Frog Hollow “round table” initiative.
Mansoor Pirzada, President, Muslim Association of Newfoundland and Labrador, noted there were over 2,000 Muslims in Newfoundland and Labrador. He spoke very well of the welcoming citizens of this hospitable Province. Interestingly, he stated that his mosque was the only mosque in North America where both Sunni and Shia Muslims worshiped together. He went on to state that statistics prove Canadian Muslims suffer more unemployment and poverty than Muslims in other Western nations and that this was indicative of Islamophobia. Under questioning, he noted that newer refugees, mostly from the recent Syrian wave, have had more difficulties than Muslims that have been in place longer.Ayse Akinturk, Executive Committee Member, Muslim Association of Newfoundland and Labrador, under questioning, stated that service providers needed to be educated on how to deal with cultural minorities. This education needs to be a mandated and funded as a government program.
From the meeting of 25 October, 2017, Mr. Pouyan Tabasinejad, Policy Chair, Iranian Canadian Congress, began by stating that his organization is seized with securing the rights and betterment of the Iranian-Canadian community in Canada. He proposed that it is Canada’s responsibility to intercede against American authorities to smooth Iranian-Canadian travel concerns. He moved on to complain about Canadian sanctions against the Republic of Iran and noted that they adversely impacted the economic prospects of his community. Under questioning from MP Anderson on why the Iranian Canadian Congress did not speak out more about the human rights violations of Iran against its own people, he stated that his organization did not stress cases germane to the Iranian experience but to those of based in Canadian jurisdictions. MP Anderson noted that the witness had, during his testimony on several occasions, stated that Iranian policies and actions were not perfect but were no worse than those of other nations.
Ms. Soudeh Ghasemi, Vice-President, Iranian Canadian Congress, made recommendations aimed at pushing back on racism and discrimination in Canada. In short, she felt Canadian foreign policy needed to be sensitive to adverse impacts on related dual-nationality communities. Under questioning from MP Jenny Kwan, she stated that reporting of hate crimes suffered from a lack of dedicated “hotlines” as reports to the police went nowhere if direct threats were not involved.
Larry Rousseau, Executive Vice-President, Canadian Labour Congress, stated as fact that impoverishment, lack of employment opportunity and even the killing of blacks was due to racism and discrimination. Under questioning, he suggested that anyone who was against Islam was Islamophobic. He further suggested that we should stay away from trying to define terms – leave the term Islamophobia as loose as possible and prosecute everything. He believed that the onus of what was right or wrong should be left up to the perceptions of the victim.
Cindy Blackstock, Executive Director, First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada began by recognizing they were meeting on unceded Algonquin property. She wondered how we could learn from mistakes made in the residential school program to make things better for First Nations children in the future. She proposed that this could be done by costing out all of the inequities that these children face in Canada compared to their non-aboriginal counterparts and applying related funds in a “Marshall Plan” fashion to ensure more equitable outcomes. This program was called “Spirit Bear”.
From the meeting of 30 October, 2017, Robert Kuhn, President, Trinity Western University stated that Trinity Western University was the largest faith-based university in the country with more than 4000 students. He noted that the university has maintained an A+ quality status for seven years running and 65% of its students are involved in community service and outreach programs. He suggested that the Committee might be surprised that such a successful organization would be subjected to discrimination and exclusion by virtue of the Christian values that reside at its core. He went on to discuss examples of such religious discrimination including the decision of multiple law societies to restrict its graduates from serving within their jurisdictions. He believed this was not indicative of the open and inclusive country that Canada used to be.
Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, founder of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, stated that the unintended consequences of M-103 need to be considered. Concentrating on “Islamophobia”, for example, is a move in the wrong direction and will result in more, not less, divisiveness. His organization believes in the separation of mosque and state and that the best way to defeat radical Islamism is to defeat the ideology that thrives within Islamic regimes. In these regimes and like-minded organizations, including those allied to the author of M-103, Islamophobia is used as a weapon to restrict free speech. He went on to state that the founding premises of M-103, as established in petition E-411, actually smack of the language and logic posited by the Islamic theocracies that are currently creating so much havoc in the world. He recommended that western governments stop the “Countering Violent Extremism” strategy and replace it with one that “counters Violent Islamism”. Along these same lines, he suggested the government needs to stop taking the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and Muslim Brotherhood groups as allies and begin communicating with, and empowering, reform groups that seek to break Islam from the fossilized grasp of jihadism and salafism. Mr. Jasser was questioned aggressively by MP Virani who noted that Mr. Jasser mentioned Raheel Raza as an ally and that she was affiliated with the “Rebel” media. He left Mr. Jasser with no time to answer. MP Anderson upbraided MP Virani on his treatment of the witness and Mr. Jasser concluded by observing that MP Virani was, in effect, discriminating against him on the basis of association.
Balpreet Singh, Legal Counsel (by videoconference: Mississauga, Ontario), World Sikh Organization of Canada, stated that his organization supported M-103 and the notion that Islamophobia was discriminatory and needed to be countered. He noted that those in the Sikh community were the object of discrimination on a regular basis. He believed that secularism was required to ensure no one religion would be placed above all others but he also noted that all religions need equal space in the public square.
From the meeting of 01 November, 2017, Don Hutchinson, author, as an individual, stated that he would set aside the use of the term Islamophobia except to say that Committee findings should be directed to all communities in Canada, not just one. Under questioning by MP Anderson, he stated that the expression Islamophobia was problematic as it meant different things to different people and had been misused.
Cecil Roach, Coordinating Superintendent of Education, Equity and Community Services, York Region District School Board, reminded the Committee that it was necessary to remember the colonial history of Canada that underpins the current situation. He raised some personal examples of racism against Black Canadians including one in which a colleague noted that Blacks would not be in so much trouble if their mothers refrained from having numerous children with multiple fathers that left their children without a fatherly influence. Rather than this, he believed that systemic racism was responsible for the stunted progress that Black children made in school and in life. He did not, however, identify specific, systemic barriers that were responsible for these outcomes. As for “Islamophobia”, it was real because Muslim children were, by his own account, being bullied at school. In closing, he recommended that the federal government initiate a national educational program that did not relent until the indigenous student drop-out rate was the same as that of white students.
Barbara Landau, Co-chair, Canadian Association of Jews and Muslims, began by praising progressive Jewish communities for banding with Muslim congregations on the heels of the Quebec mosque attack. She lambasted, however, the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) for taking the opportunity to draw attention to anti-Jewish hate speech propagated by a Muslim guest speaker in a Canadian mosque. She went on to state that CIJA again roiled the peace when it complained about a temporary Imam at a Toronto mosque who led prayers against persons of the Jewish faith. In her mind, these activities were counterproductive as they fanned the flames of fear in both communities. As for the term Islamophobia, each group should have the ability to label and define its own terms out of respect for that community. She also wanted to see a confidential reporting system that collected victim-originated data and promoted the speedy punishment of those who “crossed the line”.
Shahid Akhtar, Co-Chair, Canadian Association of Jews and Muslims related that his organization was the first of its type in Canada. The first to combine both the Jewish and Muslim communities in combating racism and religious discrimination. He hoped that the Committee would take the message back to appropriate authorities that the ethnic cleansing being carried out in Myanmar on the Rohyinga community needed to stop. If not, the penalty of removing the honorary citizenship afforded to its current leader should be imposed. Under questioning, he stated that anti-semitism and Islamophobia were the same thing, just different sides of the same coin. No need to get technical about definitions but more important to address the suffering involved regardless of the term used to describe it. Perry Bellegarde, National Chief, Assembly of First Nations, thanked the Algonquin nation for the land that deliberations were taking place on. He noted that his people do not see people in terms of colour but categorizes all in terms of being “two-legged” beings. If only all peoples had this same perspective there would be no strife among nations. By way of systemic racism, he noted the differential treatment of indigenous peoples by police services and the frozen nature of indigenous rights in section 35 of the Charter. He felt that one of the most important ways of reconciling these differences was to implement the United Nations Declaration of Rights of Indigenous Peoples. He also desired to see more indigenous people on important agencies and boards. Under questioning he stated he would like to see new Canadians welcomed with a “smudging” ceremony as they took the oath of citizenship.
From meeting of 06 November, 2017, Bruce Clemenger, President, Evangelical Fellowship of Canada began by stating that his organization gives constructive voice to some 4,000,000 evangelicals across the country. He noted that the Committee’s work was important as recent trends see a marginalization of religious thoughts and ideas as they are being pushed out of the public square by a mounting secularism. This phenomena leads to discrimination as religious points of view become misunderstood and the subject of derision. Under questioning from MP Vandal on why he thought the public reacted so negatively to M-103, he stated that the motion “picked at scabs” and seemed to try to afford more protections to Islam than other religions. He did not mention experiences in other Western jurisdictions that have suffered constraints on free speech rights as a direct result of fighting “Islamophobia”. Under questioning from MP Anderson, he stated that the Governor General’s speech last week was quite disturbing as she effectively marginalized the faith beliefs of many Canadians. As an office holder, he felt she should set a more inclusive example when speaking on behalf of all the Canadians she is charged with representing. Indeed, office holders can be seen as contributing to “systemic racism” when they express secular preferences over religious belief systems. Julia Beazley, Director, Public Policy, Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, asked that government resist the pressure to penalize or marginalize those who practice beliefs out of step with common norms and perceptions. Here she specifically mentioned the marginalization of Trinity Western University students regards employment opportunities in various labour organizations and professional colleges. She also requested that faith groups be allowed to bring their religious perspectives to the public square for debate and comment. She suggested a “whole of government” approach be implemented to preserve and safeguard freedom of speech. Here the term Islamophobia was entertained as one that risked the protection of faith ideas rather than the faith practitioner and this was not what freedom of speech was intended to shield.
Frank Huang, National Secretary-General, National Congress of Chinese Canadians, proposed a new Ministry of Multiculturalism whose task it would be to bring communities together in mutual understanding. Additionally, provincial and municipal governments should cull their rules and regulations with a mind to casting aside those that were discriminatory even as hotlines were established to report such anomalies. Finally, social media needed to be controlled and real time corrections made to false or misleading statements that confound harmonious relationships between Canadian communities. Ali Rizvi, Author, as an individual, desired to point out differences of opinion that he had with M-103. He noted that a rising tide of hate crimes against Muslims was taking place within a backdrop of worldwide jihadist attacks with young men screaming Allahu Akbar as they committed their crimes. These fears, he believed, were exacerbated by far and midstream “right” leaders who used the opportunity to rail against Islam as a whole. He suggested that the motion had a part to play in Canadian discourse but lacked the support it needed to make it truly effective. He posited that a small “tweak” in the motion could correct this situation. Before he stipulated his “tweak”, however, he stated there was a “flip side” to M-103 in that he, as an atheist and apostate from Islam, was under constant threat by those Muslims back in his home country who would kill him and his family for their apostasy if they had the chance. These threats were real and based on Islamic doctrine that supported their intentions. Such interpretations needed to be challenged but the problem, he asserted, lie in the fact that the term Islamophobia conflated criticism of Islam with discrimination against individual Muslims. This is wrong and the conflation has the potential to do great harm to free speech. He noted that organizations like the Muslim Brotherhood cleverly take advantage of the confusion raised to curtail fair comment on the subject of Islam. His proposal, therefore, was to replace the term Islamophobia with “anti-Muslim bigotry”. Under questioning from MP Reid, he noted that the wearing of the hijab in Canada might very well be a personal decision but in a majority Muslim country it was mandatory and forced on women. From the final meeting held on 08 November, 2017, Aurangzeb Qureshi, Vice-President, Public Policy and Communications, Alberta Muslim Public Affairs Council, stated that his organization is working on an “Andalusia” curriculum for provincial educational agencies that highlights eras of cooperation between Muslims, Jews and Christians. It also operates a help “hotline” to report incidents of Islamophobia and hate crimes to authorities. He went on to state that current laws make it very difficult to prosecute hate crimes as the threshold for proving same is too high. He wanted these thresholds to be lowered to make convictions an easier prospect. He felt that Islamophobia was a systemic issue and therefore needed to be addressed through federally funded educational programs. By way of example, he pointed to AMPAC’s “Andalusia” program that taught how Muslims, Christians and Jews had lived together in harmony in the past. He did not point out, however, that this era was bound up by an Islamic doctrine, manifested in the form of Sharia Law, that forced Jews and Christians, as non-Muslim “people of the book”, to pay humiliation taxes (Jizya) and forego the outward practice of their religions. He went on to state that AMPAC had excellent relations with police agencies as they almost always took their side against opposing groups. Under questioning by MP Virani, he affirmed that there are media outlets, like the Rebel as MP Virani suggested, that try to exploit situations and place Muslims in a bad light.
Karim Achab, Professor of linguistics, University of Ottawa, as an individual, addressed the word Islamophobia by stressing the need to understand where to draw the line between “rational” and “irrational” hatred. Furthermore, the term phobia implies, by definition, a psychosis or disorder deserving of medical help rather than a law to combat it. Additionally, it is necessary for this disorder to exist in opposition to the reality of the situation. Given these understandings, he felt the term Islamophobia was completely inappropriate for use in a parliamentary setting where laws are reviewed, amended and manufactured. He then posed the question of whether or not it was fair to accuse those who believed the term Islamophobia was inappropriate as being racist, white supremacists or simply conservatives hiding under the skirt of free speech. He believed such characterizations were unfair as there were, indeed, rational reasons to fear Islam given the violent exhortations of the Koran. Under questioning from MP Reid, he affirmed that the ideology of Islam is tightly wound up with the religion and that there needed to be an understanding of where one began and the other left off. He used the example of Islam’s admonishment for followers to emigrate and spread the religion en mass in concert with the activities of jihadists whose job it was to follow through with more violent tactics if need be.
Yasmine Mohammed, author, as an individual, was born and raised in Canada and wore a hijab from the age of nine. She wore the niqab after being forced into marriage to a jihadi. In all that time, she experienced no discrimination or racism due to her appearance. In the matter of M-103, she felt the motion will do the exact opposite of what is intended. She believes the motion will feed, rather than quell, the fire as the term Islamophobia is about protecting the religion of Islam rather than those who practice it. She also believed that Canadians are right to fear the ideology that comes with Islam as it is an ideology that terrorizes and kills every day. Muslims, she noted, are blasé on the killings as they are used to the Islamists, in the form of the Muslim Brotherhood, and the jihadis, in the form of al Qaeda and ISIS, that promote and action it. She knew this as she had been married to a member of al Qaeda and had his baby. This was not so for Canadians, however, as it was all new to them. They had a right to be concerned and want to talk about the ideas that they are now confronting and to do so through civil discourse. The term Islamophobia is quashing that natural and healthy desire to understand what is going on in the world around them. You must not ask why thirteen Islamic nations execute homosexuals or why it is that the overwhelming majority of girls in Egypt or Sudan suffer Female Genital Mutilation. “Islamophobia” was not around when she was a child but it was the reason that a judge returned her to her family at the age of thirteen knowing that she had been hung upside down in her family’s garage and had the bottoms of her feet whipped. The judge sent her back because he explained that different cultures have different ways of disciplining children. It was then she wished she had been born white as her culture had treated her so cruelly. She explained that that judge was, in truth, extremely bigoted as he chose to treat her differently than any other Canadian kid – unacceptable. And so it is with M-103, a good intention rife with terrible, unintended consequences. She explained that we needed to be careful and that “we cannot be so open minded that we let our brains fall out.” Under questioning from MP Reid, she noted that the West is trying to re-invent the wheel without understanding the difference between Muslims, Islamists and jihadis. She suggested we look to Muslim countries to see how they have approached and dealt with these factions – all of which were Muslim but some of which posed very real and dangerous security consequences if left unrecognized.
Yvan Clermont, Director, Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Statistics Canada, presented the most recent data on hate crime statistics in Canada. The latest are from 2015 and the next release of 2016 data will occur towards the end of November, 2017. His presentation was very technical in nature with a raft of numbers and percentages being unloaded. It was interesting to note that the numbers involved were generally in the order of “hundreds” occurring within a population of some 36 million. The increase in hate crimes against Muslims over the period 2013 to 2014, for example, went from 99 to 159 – a percentage increase of some 61% but within a Canadian Muslim population of some 1 million persons. He noted that the offenders accused of committing hate crimes on a religious basis were over represented by youths – the vast majority of which were male. He provided no further background information on these young males and it was later noted that there was a gap in information when it came to offenders and what their motivations were.
Rebecca Kong, Chief, Policing Services Program, Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Statistics Canada, under questioning, agreed that the number of hate crimes was small and that a small number of increases or decreases either way could largely impact the percentages involved. Under questioning from MP Sweet as to whether the numbers indicated a “rising climate of hate and fear”, she agreed that the numbers were rather small and incapable of supporting such an assertion.
Major (Ret’d) Russ Cooper
15 November, 2017