Opinion: Islamophobia or nourishing the breeding ground of political Islam?
Published Monday, July 26, 2021 11:28AM EDT Last Updated Monday, July 26, 2021 11:36AM EDT
MONTREAL -- In preparation for the National Summit on Islamophobia, the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) released a series of recommendations that were reported in the media.
As their report rightly states, Canadian Muslims are not a monolithic group.
As Canadian citizens of Muslim culture or religion, we welcome all initiatives to combat hatred and intolerance and to foster social cohesion and understanding among citizens.
However, not only do we not see any social cohesion in the NCCM's recommendations, but we consider, on the contrary, that their report only exacerbates tensions and accentuates anti-Muslim feelings.
As numerous surveys have shown, it is not Islam but religious fundamentalism, and in particular religious accommodation, that arouses distrust among Canadian citizens.
A 2017 survey, for example, found that "67 per cent of Quebecers and 61 per cent of Canadians believe that religious accommodations requested by Muslims show that they don't really want to integrate and that anger towards them is justified."
The best way to remove this anger against Muslims is not to multiply religious privileges and promote religious communitarianism, but to base integration policies on Canada's secular and democratic values.
In particular, because of its history, Quebec is strongly attached to the values of secularism and the religious neutrality of its institutions.
However, the NCCM calls for the fight against Bill 21 (An Act respecting the laicity of the state), duly adopted by the Quebec National Assembly and supported by a large majority of Quebecers, as well as by a variety of citizens' associations of all origins, including the Association québécoise des Nord-Africains pour la laïcité, the Council for Muslims Facing Tomorrow, as well as many Muslim columnists in English Canada.
This law requires that certain public officials in positions of authority, including teachers, not wear religious symbols, in order to respect the freedom of conscience of all citizens.
One of the effects of Bill 21 is to limit the social pressure of the Islamic veil on young Muslim girls in public schools.
It should be noted that this law is minimalist.
It does not prohibit the wearing of religious symbols by students, as is the case in France, nor does it allow for the imposition of religious neutrality in companies, as the European Court of Justice has just authorized.
However, Bill 21 is under attack.
Quebecers are accused of racism, Islamophobia or even nazism because of their attachment to secularism.
By taking Bill 21 to court, the NCCM is leading the way in this smear campaign, and it is no surprise that two of their recommendations (29 and 30) call for the fight against Bill 21.
This stubborn attack on the fundamental values of the Quebec nation can only exacerbate tensions towards Muslims.
Moreover, one cannot fight against a phenomenon while ignoring its cause.
If Islam is frightening, it is because of Islamist terrorist attacks throughout the world, offensives against human rights in countries where Islam is dominant, but also because of the entry of Islamist ideology in the West, notably through the imposition of the Islamic veil for women.
We recently learned that the Iranian journalist Masih Alinejad was the victim of an attempted kidnapping by the Iranian regime, in New York, because of her action against the compulsory veiling of women.
The same network of spies also had three Iranian dissidents followed to Canada in the past year.
The Islamic threat, particularly from the theocratic regimes of Iran and Saudi Arabia, which are willing to do anything to defend their backward vision of Islam, is very real.
Canadians are aware of this.
Yet, not only does the CNMC make no mention of the need to combat a certain retrograde manifestations of Islam, but its recommendations in this regard are staggering, to say the least.
Indeed, the report calls on the Government of Canada to halt its National Strategy to Combat Violent Extremism and Radicalization (recommendation 13) and to suspend (14) the Review and Examination Division (RED) of the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), which is responsible for identifying and preventing terrorist financing threats in Canada.
The actions of the RED have led to the revocation of several Muslim charities, such as the Islamic Centre of Ottawa, accused of allowing its resources to be used to promote hatred and intolerance or IRFAN-Canada for funding terrorism.
It is worth noting that other of the NCCM's recommendations call for oversight of national security agencies, including CSIS, which they suspect of racist, xenophobic and Islamophobic practices and "white supremacist penetration" (4), as well as the Canada Border Services Agency, also suspected of misconduct (18).
Stop monitoring organizations that may be funding terrorism and put national security agencies under control under the pretext of Islamophobia?
What better way to sow the seeds of political Islam in Canada?
What worries us most is that Prime Minister Trudeau seems to be listening carefully to these accusations.
Furthermore, we strongly oppose recommendations to create curricula that address Islamophobia and that "affirm Muslim identities" (43).
We are Canadian citizens of Tunisian, Algerian, Egyptian, Palestinian, Afghan, Pakistani origin, all of whom have different cultures and different relationships to religion and faith.
We want our children to be seen as Canadian citizens before any other identity and we refuse to allow the school system to be manipulated to push them into the silo of political Islam through victimization.
Finally, in order to "defend the public interests of Canadian Muslims", as the NCCM claims to do, the least we can do is to stop conveying a fundamentalist image of Islam, and to stop the unworthy amalgamations that are made, in this report, between the under-investigation murder of a family in London Ontario, and Quebec's Secularism Act.
- Nadia El-Mabrouk, author of Notre laïcité.
- Tarek Fatah, author and journalist
- Yasmine Mohammed, author, activist, and president of Free Hearts Free Minds
- Raheel Raza, Chair of Council of Muslims facing Tomorrow
- Ferid R. Chikhi, Consultant in socio-cultural integration
- Ensaf Haidar, wife of Raif Badawi
- Nabila Ben Youssef, actress and lecturer
- Tahir Gora, TAG TV host
- Mazahir Rahim, filmmaker
- Zabi Enayat-Zada, author “Afghan et musulman, le Quebec m’a conquis”
- Hassan Jamali, author of “Coran et déviation politique”
- Asif Niazi, “Islam in 21st Century”
- Ali Kaidi, teacher and author
- Khaled Sulaiman, author and journalist
- Intizar Zaidi, journalist
- Farida Zerar, M.A Researcher in Kabyle and intercultural studies
- Mohand Abdelli, retired P.Eng
- Nora Abdelli, Chemical Engineer
- Fouzia Aberkane, nurse
- Fatima Aboubakr, Canadian citizen
- Tahar Ait Abdeslam, banker
- Rua Alfadil
- Reem Al Hinai, pediatric surgeon
- Kamel Amari, journalist
- Idir Atif, secular activist
- Katia Atif, feminist activist
- Bahar Bakhtiar
- Imtiaz Baloch, businessman
- Zaffar Baloch, Human Rights activist
- Amani Ben Ammar
- Radhia Ben Amor, feminist activist
- Leila Bensalem, teacher
- Nawal Bouchareb, analyst
- Aftab Chaudhury
- Yasmina Chouakri, feminist activist
- Hakima Djermoune, pharmaceutical quality control inspector
- Kamel Emgharba, electrical engineer
- Ines Hadjkacem, secular activist
- Salah Hanou, CEO
- Hassiba Idir, secular activist
- Nacer Irid, engineer
- Fadhila Jebnoun, feminist activist
- Mumtaz Khan, realtor
- Leila Laridhi, Canadian citizen
- Leila lesbet, Universalist feminist
- Najia Lfarouk, secular Muslim and Canadian citizen
- Cedrik Mellata, tax expert
- Haroon Orakzai, Pushtun Rights activist
- Hocine Sahnoun, computer scientist
- Sohail Raza, retired airline executive
- Farid Salem, consultant in intercultural relations
- Amir Schahzad, engineer
- Kamel Serbouh, president of a cultural association
- Ferroudja Si Hadj Mohand, educator
- Silo Slimane, Taxieur
- Nacera Zergane, Broker in finance and insurance