Canadians don't need a 'National Day' scolding us for being Islamophobic


The federal government has been asked by the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) to declare Jan. 29, the first anniversary of a murderous attack on a Quebec mosque that left six dead and several others injured, a "National Day of Remembrance and Action on Islamophobia."

The word Islamophobia is something of a trigger to some of us, as NCCM knows well. The group was instrumental in the wording of Motion 103, where inclusion of "Islamophobia" sparked a passionate national debate (including over the potential to suppress criticism of Islam or certain Islamic people or groups if the same wording were to show up someday in law). When M-103 backers refused to consider replacing Islamophobia with the more precise "anti-Muslim," it alarmed Canadians concerned with free-speech erosion, including more than a few staunchly pluralistic Muslims.

Recall as well that NCCM presided over this definition of Islamophobia for the Toronto District School Board's guidebook to Islamic Heritage Month: "Islamophobia refers to fear, prejudice, hatred or dislike directed against Islam or Muslims, or towards Islamic politics or culture." Yet "Islamic politics or culture" is almost infinitely elastic in principle. Once the telling phrase came to public attention, attracting forceful criticism that embarrassed the TDSB, the definition was narrowed.