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Is Islamophobia Racist?

Tue, February 14, 2017   |   Author: Peter Vogel   |   Volume 24    Issue 7   

This week our Parliament is expected to vote on a motion, M-103. This motion, if passed, would be an official condemnation by our Parliament of Islamophobia. This motion is based on a petition (e-411), which was begun back in June 2016; it was signed by many Canadians and brought to Parliament. This petition was not just read and set aside. MP Iqra Khalid introduced a motion in December that calls on Parliament to “take note” of this petition and “the issues raised by it.” Here is the script of the petition:


  • Islam is a religion of over 1.5 billion people worldwide. Since its founding more than 1400 years ago, Muslims have contributed, and continue to contribute, to the positive development of human civilization. This encompasses all areas of human endeavours including the arts, culture, science, medicine, literature, and much more;

  • Recently an infinitesimally small number of extremist individuals have conducted terrorist activities while claiming to speak for the religion of Islam. Their actions have been used as a pretext for a notable rise of anti-Muslim sentiments in Canada; and

  • These violent individuals do not reflect in any way the values or the teachings of the religion of Islam. In fact, they misrepresent the religion. We categorically reject all their activities. They in no way represent the religion, the beliefs and the desire of Muslims to co-exist in peace with all peoples of the world.

We, the undersigned, Citizens and residents of Canada, call upon the House of Commons to join us in recognizing that extremist individuals do not represent the religion of Islam, and in condemning all forms of Islamophobia.

There is something in this for us to agree with; whatever your religion, there have probably been a few people who claimed to represent what you believe, but then went and did something that you believe to be wrong, and you wouldn’t like to grouped with them either. Fair enough.

But the petition also calls on the House of Commons to condemn “all forms of Islamophobia.” This is not as straightforward. What exactly is Islamophobia, and how many forms can it take? If it means condemning property damage to mosques, and, more importantly, attacking muslims, it would be clear. We have laws against property damage and physical assault of all kinds. The attacks at the mosque in Quebec highlight the fact that we need to be vigilant to protect Canadians from violence, and investigate and prosecute the perpetrator(s).

The petition condemns Islamophobia, but not racism. However, the motion before Parliament does:Text of the Motion

That, in the opinion of the House, the government should: (a) recognize the need to quell the increasing public climate of hate and fear; (b) condemn Islamophobia and all forms of systemic racism and religious discrimination and take note of House of Commonspetition e-411 and the issues raised by it; and (c) request that the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage undertake a study on how the government could (i) develop a whole-of-government approach to reducing or eliminating systemic racism and religious discrimination including Islamophobia, in Canada, while ensuring a community-centred focus with a holistic response through evidence-based policy-making, (ii) collect data to contextualize hate crime reports and to conduct needs assessments for impacted communities, and that the Committee should present its findings and recommendations to the House no later than 240 calendar days from the adoption of this motion, provided that in its report, the Committee should make recommendations that the government may use to better reflect the enshrined rights and freedoms in the Constitution Acts, including the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Let’s look at each point individually:

  1. Is there really such a climate of hate and fear? If this is a problem, as postulated, would passing this motion help? If I offend you, does it mean that I hate you? I hope not! I have accidentally offended people whom I love, and so have most of you. We can’t always control the reaction of others to our words.
  2. It is interesting to see systematic racism thrown in with religious discrimination; this is not part of the original petition. Both are problems, but should they be lumped in together in one sentence? People do leave and join religions. This is not possible with ethnicity. Respectful debate and education should be encouraged to understand religions and their differences. But fighting racial discrimination requires recognition that all people are made in the image of God — any lesser standard will be prone to failure.
  3. This point goes on to further muddle racial and religious discrimination. This motion seems to betray confusion over ethnicity and religion — ethnicity and religion are not linked! To be clear, this motion does not say that these are linked, but by putting them side-by-side without distinction, it comes very close, which is unhelpful. One might even wonder if adding in racism is a deliberate ploy to add moral judgement to anyone speaking out against Islam, as if disagreeing with Islam is somehow racist. If that is what is being done here, it is “race-baiting” of a most shameful kind.

The Standing Committee on Heritage will have to report back to Parliament on hate-crimes and their impact on affected communities in 240 days — hopefully they will come to the obvious conclusion that racism and religious discrimination are different and need to be separated in the future. That alone would be progress at this point. Barbara Kay’s take on what the findings will be is a bit different…

Candid speech causing offence is normal and necessary in the pursuit of truth. For some of us, this could include statements that contradict Islam and be deemed Islamophobic…even though the person saying them loves the people to whom he/she is speaking!

Contact your Member of Parliament and sign this petition, which asks Parliament to avoid the direction taken by M-103.

Freedom of speech and freedom of religion are linked; CHP believes in both, and we must not curtail freedom of speech in order to give preference to some religions over others. Stand on guard with us for Canada and join CHP Canada today. May God keep our land glorious and free.

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