Harper’s silence on anti-Muslim backlash disheartens Muslim groups

They have a point. Silence from the top speaks:

Muslim groups have condemned the killings and the extremist beliefs which apparently motivated them. But they say their efforts to demonstrate that most Muslims do not share those beliefs and to show solidarity with non-Muslim Canadians need to be reinforced by political leaders, particularly the prime minister.

“We are trying to work together with our law enforcement and our authorities to end this what is called radicalization of youth. We are trying to do our utmost to help,” said Mostefa.

But when political leaders denounce Muslim extremists but don’t come to the defence of moderate Muslims, Mostefa said young Muslims will think: “This is my country and you don’t come to my support to stand by my side.”

And that sends “the wrong message.”

….. “Our leaders have a very important role to play,” concurred Amira Elghawaby, human rights co-ordinator for the National Council of Canadian Muslims.

“It’s the leaders who have to set the positive tone.”

Immediately following the 9-11 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, Elghawaby noted that then-prime minister Jean Chretien visited a mosque “just to show Canadians that there’s no such thing as collective guilt.”

She said her group expects Harper, “as leader of our country, to speak up for the minorities that live here.”

“He has a responsibility to represent everyone and certainly Canadian Muslim communities are extremely worried about a backlash and I think that needs to be spoken to.”

Alia Hogben, executive director of the Canadian Council of Muslim Women, said it’s “very disheartening” that Harper has not bothered to speak out against the anti-Muslim backlash. But it’s not surprising to her.

“I don’t think he much likes Muslims,” Hogben said.

Canada is a multicultural country with over 1 million Muslims, most of whom are Canadian citizens whose religion is only part of their identity, she pointed out.

“I think it’s absolutely vital that the head of the country, like the prime minister, would accept that and also somehow reinforce it and reassure people.”

Asked why Harper has not specifically denounced any of the recent anti-Muslim incidents, the prime minister’s spokesman Jason MacDonald said: “These acts are obviously unacceptable.

Contrast this to any number of statements and the like on antisemitic incidents.

Harpers silence on anti-Muslim backlash disheartens Muslim groups.

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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