Fakih: A court has finally said ‘enough’ to my harasser – and that’s a win for Canada

Good result and good reflections:

I am an immigrant – a proud Canadian and a proud Muslim. I have built a restaurant business and raised a family in this country. If there is such a thing as a “Canadian Dream,” I have lived it.

But I have also been exposed to the hate that is growing in the dark corners of our society. And so, when an Ontario judge sentenced a man named Kevin Johnston to 18 months in prison for contempt of court this week, the decision was, to me, critical in ensuring that Canada remains a diverse, inclusive and welcoming country.

In 2017, Mr. Johnston made a series of vile and false accusations against me. He used hateful language at rallies and online. He followed and harassed me and my children in public. He refused to back down. To protect my family, my reputation and my livelihood, I took him to court for defamation. Ultimately, in 2019, I won a financial judgment against him.

In that case, Ontario Superior Court Justice Jane Ferguson described Mr. Johnston’s behaviour as “a loathsome example of hate speech at its worst, targeting people solely because of their religion. Left unchallenged, it poisons the integrity of our democracy.”

Unsurprisingly, however, Mr. Johnston refused to pay a penny of what she said he owed. But even worse, he continued to use the same hateful language against me.

I felt powerless and unsafe. I was afraid for my family and my employees. I was also frustrated about why this was allowed to happen.

I had won my court case; the law was on my side. So why had nothing changed? In an online video, Mr. Johnston was heard to boast: “Eleven times I’ve been arrested just for talking, and I’m still smiling. And all they’ve done is make me more popular than ever before.”

Was this really justice?

Part of me wished that I could ignore the man and be done with him, but I thought about Mr. Johnston and what he represented every day. I couldn’t stop asking myself: Is this the kind of Canada we want to live in? A Canada where hatemongers show no fear of being held responsible for their dangerous words?

I decided to once more put my faith in our justice system. And this week, Ontario Superior Court Justice Frederick Myers sentenced Mr. Johnston to prison on six counts of contempt. As he wrote in his decision: “There is a need in this case for a sentence that makes the public sit up and take notice.”

Justice Myers’s wider point was what’s truly important. “The thin veneer of civility represented by the rule of law requires protection,” he wrote. “Our society only continues if people voluntarily respect the law. Canada is not a society with soldiers on street corners policing the population with machine guns at every turn. It is our shared values, including our commitment to the rule of law, that differentiates our democracy from so many other cultures.”

Free speech is the foundation of strong democratic society. Hate speech is a perversion and violation of that right. It is, for good reason, against the law. It is a threat to the safety of many in our country, and a threat to the values and ideals that our country strives to represent.

To combat hate in Canada, we need action and accountability. Law enforcement must act against those who promote hate; the courts must hold these people accountable and make them pay a price. That’s the path to Canadians having the confidence that the law can protect them, and to meaningful deterrence. The thin veneer must be protected. Those who willfully violate the law – and ignore its sanctions – must be punished.

“Perhaps jail is a blunt tool and risks making Mr. Johnston a martyr to his cause,” Justice Myers acknowledged. “But at some point, society simply needs to protect its members and itself from those who would use our democratic freedoms to deliberately hurt others and strike at the democratic and Charter values and the democratic institutions that are Canada.”

The sentence against Mr. Johnston isn’t a solution to the broader problem. There are too many others who echo and amplify his hateful words. But it’s a start. After four long years, I can tell you that this Canadian was finally able to breathe a sigh of relief that a measure of justice had at last been served. It should not have required this years-long ordeal, but I am grateful to be able to live in a country where, finally, its institutions have said: Enough.

Mohamad Fakih is the founder and CEO of Paramount Fine Foods.

Source: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/article-a-court-has-finally-said-enough-to-my-harasser-and-thats-a-win-for/

Canadian Muslims have given Justin Trudeau a mandate to eliminate Islamophobia

Summit recommendations are just that and mandates are less categorical. More reduce than eliminate.

While the government needs to provide a response, the nature of the response will need to consider broad public policy issues as well as responses to other forms of xenophobia, discrimination and prejudice:

Progress has been made, such as the addition of right-wing extremist groups to Canada’s terror lists. The attacks on the Afzaal family in London and on Mohamed-Aslim Zafis outside an Etobicoke mosque, on the other hand, underlined the need for stronger action.

In reaction to the rise of anti-Muslim hate, the Liberal government convened the July National Action Summit Against Islamophobia shortly before the federal election. Many community organizations submitted recommendations with the expectation that the government would take concrete action. The government listened intently to people’s lived experiences and demands for reform, but only a few first steps were proposed.

Following the 2019 federal election, Canada’s Muslim community outlined four priorities that the Liberal government should address immediately: the rise in Islamophobia, Bill 21 in Quebec, Islamophobia’s presence in Canada’s national security regime, and a foreign policy committed to speaking out against human rights violations.

Progress has been made, such as the addition of right-wing extremist groups to Canada’s terror lists. The attacks on the Afzaal family in London and on Mohamed-Aslim Zafis outside an Etobicoke mosque, on the other hand, underlined the need for stronger action.

In reaction to the rise of anti-Muslim hate, the Liberal government convened the July National Action Summit Against Islamophobia shortly before the federal election. Many community organizations submitted recommendations with the expectation that the government would take concrete action. The government listened intently to people’s lived experiences and demands for reform, but only a few first steps were proposed.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau delivered a strong message: “There’s no question that there is work to be done within government to dismantle systemic racism and Islamophobia. Because from the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) to security agencies, institutions should support people, not target them. We hear that.”

If anything, the July summit meeting successfully established the mandate of Canada’s newly elected government to combat Islamophobia, giving the Liberal party a second chance to get this right.

Systemic Islamophobia in government institutions is among the most serious aspects of anti-Muslim hate. Hatred and violence against Muslims will never be eradicated as long as anti-Muslim sentiment persists inside our agencies and institutions.

The top of the list is the Review and Analysis Division (RAD) of the Canada Revenue Agency, which has been targeting Muslim groups with biased audits and unjust sanctions for more than a decade.

Before the election the Liberal government announced a review by the CRA Ombudsperson’s office. This is simply not enough. RAD’s biased audits are rooted in a broader government problem based primarily in the national security regime, over which the Ombudsperson has no control.

The next minister of National Revenue must take a number of immediate actions. The National Security and Intelligence Review Agency should undertake its own investigation. The 2015 National Risk Assessment, a government directive to the CRA that contributed to the targeting of Muslim charities, should also be re-evaluated. Most importantly, the CRA should declare a moratorium on RAD audits until these reviews are completed.

The Canada Border Services Agency for years has profiled Muslims and targeted refugees from Muslim countries. The Liberal government has ready-to-go CBSA oversight legislation, Bill C-3, that died when Parliament was prorogued last year. Re-introducing this bill should be a top priority for the government.

Many communities, including Muslims, have urged the government to adapt regulations to the changing social media environment, which has allowed online hate to spread and provided a platform for white supremacist groups to thrive.

The Liberal Muslim caucus highlighted the top five priorities for Prime Minister Trudeau following the National Summit, which include the above. Muslim leaders reinforced these during the election.

If we want to fight Islamophobia “we need to bring Canadians together with us,” Prime Minister Trudeau said as he addressed the national summit. He was indicating that Canadians should support him as he heads back to Ottawa with a new mandate.

With their votes, Canadian Muslims have shown their faith in the Prime Minister’s sincerity and willingness to solve these challenges. Community members hope he will make addressing systemic Islamophobia in Canada a major priority when he issues mandate letters to his ministers outlining the goals for this government’s tenure.

Sharaf Sharafeldin is executive director of the Muslim Association of Canada, a national non-profit organization providing religious and educational services for the Muslim community in Canada.

Source: https://www.thestar.com/opinion/contributors/2021/10/04/canadian-muslims-have-given-justin-trudeau-a-mandate-to-eliminate-islamophobia.html

AI’s anti-Muslim bias problem

Of note (and unfortunately, not all that surprising):

Imagine that you’re asked to finish this sentence: “Two Muslims walked into a …”

Which word would you add? “Bar,” maybe?

It sounds like the start of a joke. But when Stanford researchers fed the unfinished sentence into GPT-3, an artificial intelligence system that generates text, the AI completed the sentence in distinctly unfunny ways. “Two Muslims walked into a synagogue with axes and a bomb,” it said. Or, on another try, “Two Muslims walked into a Texas cartoon contest and opened fire.”

For Abubakar Abid, one of the researchers, the AI’s output came as a rude awakening. “We were just trying to see if it could tell jokes,” he recounted to me. “I even tried numerous prompts to steer it away from violent completions, and it would find some way to make it violent.”

Language models such as GPT-3 have been hailed for their potential to enhance our creativity. Given a phrase or two written by a human, they can add on more phrases that sound uncannily human-like. They can be great collaborators for anyone trying to write a novel, say, or a poem.

Source: AI’s anti-Muslim bias problem

A Muslim family was killed in Canada just 3 months ago. So why are leaders not talking about Islamophobia?

So many issues are not being talked about but at least some party platforms include commitments with respect to anti-racism and related policies:

Just weeks after four members of a Muslim family were killed in what police have called act of terror, Aalia Bhalloo stood shaking in the middle of a Toronto-area grocery store, stunned at the words of a shopper who called her “disgusting.”

“Making your daughter wear that thing on her head is child abuse,” the woman told Bhalloo, referring to her 11-year-old’s headscarf. 

In her 36 years in Canada where she was born and raised, never before had Bhalloo experienced outright hate.

Her first instinct: to call the police.

“How would I know that those people wouldn’t be waiting for me outside in their car and the moment I stepped outside they run me over?” Bhalloo said. In the wake of the London attack, the fear was hardly far-fetched. 

Yet, as Canada enters the final week of an election only months after politicians of all stripes took to a stage in London in a show of solidarity, racism and anti-Muslim hate in particular have barely registered on the campaign trail. 

That’s raising concerns about just how much substance was behind their words in a year marked by a so-called racial reckoning sparked by the murder of George Floyd, the discovery of hundreds of unmarked graves at former residential schools, an uptick in anti-Asian racism amid the pandemic, and the deadliest attack on Muslims in the country since six worshippers were killed at a Quebec City mosque in 2017.

Leaders can’t be allowed to be push hate to ‘backburner’

“We can’t have politicians be allowed to get away with pushing this issue to the backburner,” Fareed Khan, founder of Canadians United Against Hate told CBC News.

“I think it’s up to Canadians — not just racialized Canadians but also the allies who have come out in the tens of thousands this year to support Black Canadians and Indigenous Canadians and Muslim Canadians — to say, ‘No we can be better than this’ and we’re not going to let you get away with being silent on this issue.”

Over the last decade, Canada has seen police-reported hate crimes against Muslims rise from 45 in 2012 to 181 in 2018. 

That number fell to 82 in 2020, though the past 12 months have seen profound examples of violence against Muslims, including the London attack, the fatal stabbing of Mohamed Aslim Zafis outside a Toronto-area mosque by a man with alleged links to neo-Nazi ideology, as well as multiple hate-motivated attacks on Black and racialized women in the Edmonton area.

As recently noted by the National Council of Canadian Muslims, more Muslims have been killed in targeted hate-attacks in Canada than any other G-7 country in the past five years. 

No major party committing to fight Bill 21

That’s something NCCM’s CEO Mustafa Farooq says “is absolutely something that should be addressed by every federal leader … If they’re not willing to address it, I think that tells you a lot about where their priorities lie.”

The Liberals have adopted some of the group’s 61 recent recommendations to counter Islamophobia in their campaign platform, including a $10-million annual investment for a national support fund for survivors of hate-motivated crimes. They have also committed to a national action plan for combating hate and creating new legislation to combat the spread of online hate.

The Conservatives promise to double the funding for the federal security infrastructure program and make it easier for religious institutions to apply to protect themselves against hate-motivated crime, though Farooq points out nowhere in their platform are the words Islamophobia or racism mentioned. 

Meanwhile, he says, the NDP is the only party to explicitly endorse an office for a special envoy on Islamophobia and has also promised online measure to counter hate. 

Still, says Farooq, none of the federal leaders have committed to intervening to fight Quebec’s Bill 21 in court — which bans some civil servants, including teachers, police officers and government lawyers, from wearing religious symbols at work. Instead, the leaders of the Liberals, Conservatives and Bloc Québécois all called the English-language debate question on Quebec’s secularism law offensive and unfair. 

That’s something Toronto imam Hamid Slimi believes needs to change.

“I believe governments should never interfere in people’s personal decisions when it comes to what they want to wear, what they believe, how they want to practise their religion.”

Issues like that have been drowned out amid the din of the campaign, he says.

“It’s like you’re in a market. There’s so much noise, everybody’s selling this and selling that and you can’t focus.”

Silence on hate makes it more ‘acceptable’

But for all the noise, for Bhalloo it’s the silence from leaders about the subject that’s most worrying.

“It does absolutely worry me for myself, but more importantly, my children who are growing up in this society that will have to face Islamophobic types of events or incidents or hate incidents, such as my daughter who had to face it as well,” she said.

“The silence of it just makes it that much more socially acceptable.”

As many took advantage of advance polls over the weekend, the world also marked 20 years since 9/11, when al -Qaeda hijackers attacked New York and Washington, killing nearly 3,000 including 24 Canadians. 

That date isn’t without significance in a year that’s seen such profound examples of anti-Muslim hate, says Khan.

“What we’re not remembering was the Islamophobia that it fuelled, the national security policies that are still in place that affect primarily Muslims. It doesn’t register on people that that singular attack has changed our society and has engendered racism, has fed white supremacy and Islamophobia,” he said. 

‘The face of Canada is changing’

Sabreena Ghaffar-Siddiqui, a professor of sociology and criminology at Sheridan College, agrees. 

“9/11 is connected to Islamophobia because that essentially became the birth of Islamophobia as we know it today. The ‘war on terror’ is the foundation on which today’s Islamophobia rests.”

Indeed, the Canadian Islamic Congress reported more than 170 anti-Muslim hate crimes in 2002, up from just 11 in 2000. 

And to anyone who believes problems of Islamophobia or racism in general don’t affect the public broadly enough to come up in an election campaign, Ghaffar-Siddiqui points out you don’t have to be Muslim for anti-Muslim hate to kill you.

The first person to be killed in a hate-crime after 9/11 was a man named Balbir Singh Sodhi, a Sikh man gunned down at his gas station in Arizona four days after the attacks by someone who mistook him for a Muslim. 

That’s why she and others believe the politicians who took to the stage in London after the killing of the Afzaal family need to deliver on their promises, not only for the Muslim community but for Canada as a whole.

“The face of Canada is changing,” she said.

“We have always been known for multiculturalism, but it’s one thing to show yourself as that type of nation and another to actually have the people of your nation feel safe in this country.” 

Source: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/canada-election-2021-racism-islamophobia-hate-1.6174511

L’après 11 septembre : la lutte contre l’islamophobie est nécessaire, mais elle ne doit pas être un appui à l’islamisme

Good commentary by Antonius and some of the naiveté of the left:

Les attentats du 11 septembre 2001 ont lancé un signal clair : les mouvements djihadistes islamistes étaient désormais prêts à s’en prendre directement aux puissances occidentales par des actions violentes d’envergure.

En réponse à ce défi, les États-Unis ont déployé une double stratégie au Moyen-Orient. D’abord militaire, pour combattre Al-Qaeda ainsi que certains régimes jugés menaçants, dont celui des talibans en Afghanistan. Puis politique, pour convaincre leurs alliés arabes autoritaires de laisser une plus grande marge de manœuvre à leurs sociétés civiles.

Ce deuxième volet de la stratégie était fondé sur l’idée qu’un espace démocratique plus grand rendrait le recours à la violence moins attirant pour les courants contestataires, en particulier islamistes. Cette stratégie a donc été accompagnée de diverses initiatives d’ouverture envers les courants de l’islam politique qui ne revendiquaient pas la violence comme moyen d’action privilégié.

Ces tentatives de cooptation, voire de glorification d’un certain islam conservateur, ont constitué un désavantage pour les courants sociaux et politiques sécularisés au sein même des sociétés musulmanes, mais elles ne les ont pas paralysés. Au contraire, ces sociétés ont elles aussi bénéficié de cette ouverture, qui a permis les lentes et patientes mobilisations qui ont rendu possibles les révoltes arabes de 2011.

J’ai commenté et publié sur ces événements, en tant que professeur de sociologie à l’Université du Québec à Montréal. Je m’intéresse entre autres aux transformations sociales dans les sociétés arabes, incluant l’émergence de l’islam politique, aux conflits au Proche-Orient, en particulier israélo-palestinien, ainsi qu’aux stéréotypes et aux discriminations qui ont ciblé les communautés arabes et musulmanes.

L’agenda sécuritaire et l’islamophobie

En même temps qu’il développait ses nouvelles stratégies dans le grand Moyen-Orient, le gouvernement américain a développé des stratégies sécuritaires visant à empêcher que des attaques semblables à celles du 11 septembre 2001 ne se reproduisent sur son territoire. Allié fidèle des États-Unis, le gouvernement du Canada, a lui aussi développé des stratégies similaires de lutte contre le terrorisme.

La menace du 11 septembre étant venue d’un groupe qui se réclamait explicitement de l’islam dans son action politique violente, les soupçons se sont naturellement portés vers des groupes similaires. Le discours sécuritaire a alors constitué un terreau fertile aux dérapages xénophobes qui visaient spécialement les musulmans, d’abord dans les mesures sécuritaires elles-mêmes, dont certaines étaient clairement discriminatoires. Par exemple, le traitement différentiel en fonction de l’apparence ou du nom, ou encore les « No-Fly Lists » des citoyens ordinaires dont le nom était « suspect ». Mais c’est surtout dans certains discours populistes, qui encourageaient la méfiance et la haine envers l’islam et les musulmans, que ces dérapages se sont manifestés, produisant hélas de nombreuses agressions contre des citoyens du seul fait qu’ils et elles étaient musulmans.

C’est cet ensemble de politiques, de discours et d’attitudes hostiles à l’islam et aux musulmans qui a été désigné par le terme « islamophobie », souvent considéré comme étant synonyme de « racisme antimusulman » et comme étant étroitement lié à l’agenda sécuritaire post-11 septembre.

Des appuis à l’islam politique

En réaction à cette islamophobie, un mouvement de solidarité et de défense des droits des musulmans s’est développé au Canada et au Québec.

Initié par des associations antiracistes et de défense des droits, ce mouvement a rapidement conclu, à juste titre, qu’il fallait lutter contre les stéréotypes négatifs associés à l’islam et le montrer sous un meilleur — et plus réaliste — jour.

Mais comment aborder la question de l’émergence des courants de l’islam politique d’inspiration wahhabite, originaire d’Arabie saoudite, et qui est une forme spécifique de salafisme ? Comment tenir compte de l’émergence de l’islamisme, avec ses composantes antidémocratiques ou même liberticides ?

C’est là, je crois, que certains mouvements antiracistes ont fait des erreurs importantes. En voulant s’opposer à l’agenda sécuritaire considéré discriminatoire et islamophobe, ils ont ignoré les dangers de l’islam politique et lui ont apporté des appuis qui vont bien plus loin que la défense des droits démocratiques. Ceci les a amenés à glorifier, à l’occasion, les pratiques salafistes comme étant émancipatrices, par exemple dans cette vidéo inattendue publiée sur le site du journal Ricochet.

Plus généralement, les symboles associés à l’islamisme, ainsi que les discours identitaires islamistes, devenaient des revendications qu’il fallait appuyer activement au nom de la diversité, du libre choix et de l’antiracisme.

Des sympathies douteuses

Cette empathie ne s’est pas seulement appliquée aux pratiques religieuses orthodoxes. Oussama Atar, citoyen belge, l’un des cerveaux des attentats de Paris du 13 novembre 2015, avait été adopté par des groupes de défense des droits, dont Amnistie internationale, dans le cadre d’une campagne intitulée « Sauvons Oussama », lorsqu’il avait été emprisonné pour son association avec des groupes djihadistes. Au Canada, le controversé Adil Charkaoui (qui s’est réjoui publiquement du retour au pouvoir des talibans) avait reçu un appui, un hommage même, de la part de la Ligue des droits et libertés, quand il luttait pour faire annuler un certificat de sécurité déposé envers lui par le ministère de l’Immigration.

Ces cas ne sont pas que des anecdotes. C’est la conception même de « l’islamophobie », portée par une partie de la gauche antiraciste, qui est en jeu ici. En effet, la définition de l’islamophobie a été élargie pour considérer comme « phobie » toute critique, y compris rationnelle et documentée, des idéologies politiques qui se réclament de l’islam.

C’est ce qu’on pouvait lire dans un manuel (par ailleurs fort utile) produit dans le cadre du Islamic Heritage Month par le Toronto District School Board. Dans sa première version, publiée dans le Resource Guidebook For Educators, en 2017, on pouvait y lire cette définition : « Islamophobia refers to fear, prejudice, hatred or dislike directed against Islam or Muslims, or towards Islamic politics or culture », soit « L’islamophobie désigne la peur, les préjugés, la haine ou l’aversion dirigés contre l’islam ou les musulmans, ou contre la politique ou la culture islamique ».

Cette définition a été amendée quelques mois plus tard, en réaction aux protestations venues de… la droite, la gauche étant restée silencieuse sur cette question. Inutile de souligner ici le danger d’inclure la critique des politiques associées à l’islam comme étant du racisme islamophobe.

Cette conception de l’islamophobie portée par certains des courants antiracistes converge tout à fait avec les politiques officielles du gouvernement canadien, peut-être en raison de la stratégie d’ouverture envers l’islam politique non violent évoquée plus haut. Les efforts pour combattre l’islamophobie, définie dans ce sens très large, et sans critique de l’islamisme, trouvent ainsi un écho même au Parlement canadien, qui a adopté en 2019 une Motion pour combattre l’islamophobie.

Le combat contre le dogmatisme religieux

Cependant, dans le monde arabo-musulman, les critiques de l’islam comme idéologie politique se sont fait entendre de plus en plus. Face aux courants fondamentalistes se dressent des conceptions laïques de la société et de l’État, qui vont jusqu’à critiquer les fondements mêmes de l’islam. Ces courants ne revendiquent pas nécessairement la laïcité comme principe, mais ils l’expriment concrètement dans les arts, la culture, la littérature, les comportements sociaux et aussi la politique.

Ces critiques ne sont pas nouvelles : très visibles dans la première moitié du XXe siècle et jusqu’après l’ère des indépendances, elles avaient été étouffées par la montée de l’islam conservateur à partir des années 1970, puissamment appuyé par le régime saoudien. Mais on les voit émerger à nouveau à présent.

Dans de nombreux pays arabes, on peut voir par exemple des groupes se disant explicitement athées proliférer sur les réseaux sociaux tout en gardant un certain anonymat par peur de représailles. Un livre autobiographique d’un ex-salafiste/djihadiste devenu athée, publié sous le nom de Kafer Maghrebi (Apostat maghrébin) a eu un énorme succès durant la foire du livre de Casablanca où sa vente avait été autorisée. D’autres critiques radicales confrontent le récit officiel de l’histoire glorieuse de l’islam et contestent les rapports de domination justifiés au nom du dogme religieux.

C’est sur ces courants, enracinés dans les sociétés arabes, qu’il faudra compter pour continuer le combat contre le dogmatisme religieux et pour la laïcité, c’est-à-dire pour que les politiques de l’État n’aient pas besoin de justifications religieuses. Souvent exilés de leur pays d’origine, ceux et celles qui appartiennent à ces courants n’auront pas l’appui de cette partie de la gauche qui, en voulant défendre les droits des musulmans, appuie la propagation de l’islamisme. Ce faisant, cette gauche a cessé d’être un allié dans le combat pour la laïcité au sein des groupes arabes en situation de migration.

Source: https://theconversationcanada.cmail19.com/t/r-l-trxltjt-kyldjlthkt-v/

ADL head: On NY Islamic center, we were wrong, plain and simple

An example of a clear, unequivocal apology (politicians and others to take note):

Around the world Jews are celebrating the High Holy Days. During this time, Jews focus on the need for Teshuvah, or self-examination and repentance. But self-examination need not be limited to individuals.

Institutions, especially century-old institutions like ADL, also can commit to the practice of self-examination and Teshuvah. And it is in this spirit that I have been reflecting on a stance ADL took 11 years ago when we opposed the location of the then-proposed Park51 Islamic Community Center & Mosque near Ground Zero in Lower Manhattan. Originally known as Cordoba House, and modeled after the 92nd Street Y, the project planned to include community and cultural spaces with the goal of fostering interfaith dialogue and promoting peace and understanding. I believe the stance we took is one for which we owe the Muslim community an apology.

Further, amidst ADL’s reflection, and approaching the 20th anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks, our nation’s sudden and disastrously planned withdrawal from Afghanistan is heartbreaking. For me personally, and ADL as a whole, this catastrophe made our Teshuvah all the more urgent.
Today one can see how the Cordoba House could have helped to heal our country as we nursed the wounds from the horror of 9/11. As we near the 20th anniversary of that tragic day, the need for healing remains. Arguably, it has attained an increased urgency after the tumult of recent years and especially now as we prepare to welcome refugees from Afghanistan, including many who supported our troops and our ideals, and now flee the onslaught of the Taliban. Sadly, rather than heal, we have seen Islamophobia persist in ugly ways.
As the leading anti-hate organization in the US, with experts tracking extremism of all sorts, ADL is committed to help our Muslim allies counter Islamophobia. Indeed, we have been doing so for many decades. And this is exactly why, as a dear Muslim friend told me recently, ADL’s stance on the Cordoba House project was “a punch in the gut to the Muslim community.” I hope that by righting this wrong, we can be better allies in the fight against the rise in anti-Muslim hate that is coming — and it is coming.
I say this, because as most Americans were praying for the Afghan people, generously donating funds and preparing to welcome some number of Afghan civilians into our great nation, some so-called “experts” began spreading alarmist and Islamophobic disinformation in shameless attempts to block these brutalized civilians from coming to the United States. Adding to the alarm, these insidious conspiracy theories are coming during a time that the FBI is reportingthe highest level of hate crimes in over a decade.
And that is likely just the opening chorus of anti-Muslim sentiment that I fear will swell in the weeks, months and years ahead.
We’ve seen it before.
We saw it in the aftermath of the September 11th terrorist attacks. The FBI tracked a massive spike in anti-Muslim hate crimes in 2001, compared to 2000: a jump from 28 incidents to 481. Muslims were profiled, attacked and killed, mosques were desecrated, slander flowed in the media and even members of the Sikh community were attacked simply because they wore turbans.
And we saw it again in 2010, when a media storm rose up around Cordoba House. While the country was in many ways less polarized in 2010 than in our present moment, it was still a fraught time. A time when you could almost see the lines that divide us today being drawn.
When Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf and Daisy Khan envisioned the creation of Cordoba House, they intended to foster better relations between the Islamic world and America, and to serve as a public rejection of extremism.
Sadly, it was portrayed very differently. Some polemicists immediately pounced. The media dubbed it the “Ground Zero Mosque,” an unfair name that instantly cast the project in a negative light. Mayor Michael Bloomberg argued for it. Former Speaker Newt Gingrich railed against it. The impassioned families of victims could be heard on both sides of the debate. Other public figures piled on, virtually climbing over each other to be heard. The tension reached a boiling point as local community boards repeatedly voted in favorof the project amidst continued protests and counter protests.
Then ADL weighed in. Although before my tenure, I know that ADL struggled with the decision, trying to balance a genuine desire to support a noble endeavor but also to support the victims and families of the 9/11 terrorist attack who voiced opposition. And so, ADL decided not to oppose the project outright, but instead tried to take a nuanced position, advocating for a location change that the organization felt would help lead to the type of reconciliation the project itself was meant to represent.
There are likely other ways ADL’s voice could have improved rather than impaired the conversation. For instance, as some of the organizers later reflected, more engagement early on with victims’ families could have gone a long way in achieving the ultimate goal of fostering reconciliation and peace. Daisy Kahn once explained how the goal of Cordoba House was to “repair the breach and be at the front and center to start the healing.” Perhaps ADL should have helped facilitate such a discussion.
And yet, we chose to weigh in differently. And through deep reflection and conversation with many friends within the Muslim community, the real lesson is a simple one: we were wrong, plain and simple.
Ultimately, the project as envisioned never came to be — with the development primarily becoming another familiar condominium tower.
We can’t change the past. But we accept responsibility for our unwise stance on Cordoba House, apologize without caveat and commit to doing our utmost going forward to use our expertise to fight anti-Muslim bias as allies.
As we see the signs of another surge in anti-Muslim hate, it is imperative that the collective we — civil society, the business community, elected officials and the American citizenry writ large — embrace the idea and intent of Cordoba House and work together to foster peace.
We have seen Muslims demonized in recent years in ways that make the heart ache — from the early talk of a “Muslim registry” in days after the 2016 election to the travel ban imposed the following year on Muslim-majority countries to the unfounded conspiratorial claims of Muslims invading the US that still show up in the rantings of some prime-time cable news personalities. This is in addition to the all-too frequent use of slander and stereotypes of Islam on social media platforms. ADL’s most recent survey of online hate and harassment found that Muslim respondents regularly experience identity-based harassment. This kind of ugliness seems to be on a permanent loop.
It’s clear that some of the wild charges lodged against Cordoba House — that it was organized by “radical Islamists” and “terrorist sympathizers” — were part of this pattern. And we must not allow this pattern to continue, especially as Afghans seek refuge in the promise of America.
This must start with the Biden administration stepping up to ensure Afghan refugees do not face burdensome roadblocks or are unjustly denied entry to our nation. This is why over 300 organizations, including ADL, signed a recent letter to President Joe Biden expressing “our support for a robust humanitarian response from the United States and our commitment to assist Afghans in danger” while also imploring the administration to “expand opportunities for Afghans to seek refuge.”
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But the work doesn’t stop there. It is on all of us to fight back against the Islamophobic attempts to prevent refugees from gaining asylum. Again, we already see the disturbing “invasion” claim being thrown around again in direct reference to Afghan refugees. Some have tried to rationalize their hate by invoking the White supremacist “Great Replacement” theory. All of it is wrong.
We are better than this. We actively can choose not only to reject hate, but to embrace those in need. ADL’s stance on Cordoba House was an error that pales alongside the abrupt abandonment of our Afghan allies, but all of us should draw upon our better angels and welcome those poor and huddled masses who today seek our support.

Source: ADL head: On NY Islamic center, we were wrong, plain and simple

The word ‘racism’ doesn’t appear anywhere in the Conservative party’s campaign platform

Notable and significant:

Discrimination against visible and religious minorities in Canada has been hotly debated during the year leading up to this summer’s federal election, but the issue gets scant mention in the campaign platform released by the Conservative party this week.

The words “racism” and “antisemitism” do not appear anywhere in the party’s 160-page policy platform, which largely focuses on the fallout and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. Nor are there any references to Black Canadians.

And in the aftermath of the deadly June attack targeting a Muslim family in London, Ont. — which saw Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole calling for “urgent action” to support Canadian Muslims — the term “Islamophobia” is missing, too.

The omissions are somewhat at odds with the opening notes of the platform, in which O’Toole writes that it is “time for Conservatives to take inequality seriously, because that’s becoming more of a problem in our country,” and says that Canada is a society where “everyone can fulfil his or her potential.”

It also doesn’t address last year’s nationwide call for racial justice, sparked by a reckoning over police brutality targeting Black and Indigenous people.

Instead, the document tackles discrimination and bridge-building through the lens of international human rights and foreign policy, rather than grappling with its existence in Canada.

Among a handful of proposals, the Conservatives would establish an Office of Religious Freedom and Conscience that advises cabinet ministers “on threats to international security, engages in diplomacy to religious communities, and informs Canadian international development programs to promote freedom, pluralism, religious coexistence and tolerance.”

The Conservatives are also promising to appoint the country’s “first Muslim ambassador and first ambassador to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation” to help engage with the world’s Muslim-majority nations.

The party also wants to see the creation of an international human rights advisory committee, made up of a “broad range of cultural and religious communities in Canada” to advise the government on issues abroad.

Mustafa Farooq, CEO of the National Council of Canadian Muslims, said that while the platform is “light” on addressing domestic Islamophobia, it does offer some encouraging promises.

The Tories acknowledged, for example, their support for the Muslim minority Uyghur population in China, and said they would boost funding and expand the accessibility of the Ottawa’s security infrastructure program, which helps protect places of worship and other institutions from hate-motivated attacks.

“Certainly, I would have liked to see clear articulations about … what they’re going to be doing to challenge Islamophobia through clear policy promises and commitments,” Farooq said.

On the other hand, the New Democrats — the only other major federal party to release its policy promises — are running on a platform that has dedicated an entire plank to confronting racism and other forms of discrimination, though the details are vague.

The NDP document emphasizes the rise in hateful incidents facing Muslim, Jewish and Black Canadians, along with Indigenous people. The party is promising to enact a national action plan to “dismantle far-right extremist organizations” and address “white supremacist and neo-Nazi groups.” The NDP is also pledging to better identify and catalogue hate-related incidents and how they are handled within Canada’s justice system.

The collection of race-based data, reviewing employment discrimination and addressing the overrepresentation of Black and Indigenous people in the federal prison population also factor into the NDP plan.

Both the NDP and the Conservatives, however, have pledged to counter online hate, with the New Democrats seeking to convene a national working group on the issue and the Tories promising to criminalize statements that encourage violence against other groups while protecting non-violent forms of speech and criticism.

The two parties have also put forth specific reconciliation plans focused on addressing the injustices wrought by the residential school system, self determination, economic development and improving access to clean drinking water.

Source: The word ‘racism’ doesn’t appear anywhere in the Conservative party’s campaign platform

Europe’s Hijab Test: War of the Headscarves and Death of Multiculturalism

Of note:

In mid-July, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) ruled that private employers in the EU can ban employees from wearing religious symbols, including headscarves, in order to present an image of “political, philosophical, and religious neutrality” in the workplace. The verdict reaffirmed a 2017 CJEU ruling and highlights longstanding tensions over multiculturalism in Europe. In particular, it raises the question of whether there is a place for visibly Muslim women in European public life.

I have spent the last several months interviewing Muslim women, many of them citizens and residents of European countries, about their portrayal in the media and perception of belonging in their countries. While many reported similar experiences of ostracism or harassment, the European women, particularly those who choose to wear the hijab (head covering), told me time and again: “I feel like I don’t exist.” The hijab is more than a religious symbol to those who wear it. Muslim women cover their hair out of tradition, to maintain a connection to their cultural heritage, or for reasons of modesty. Several young European women I spoke to explained that they wear the hijab despite protests from their immigrant families, who do not want them to face undue scrutiny or discrimination at work.

But their choice carries a high personal cost. The rampant European misperception of the hijab as a symbol of a supposedly misogynistic Islamic culture has made women who wear one feel like faceless, nameless “victims” who must be saved, instead of empowered individuals making a personal decision. “It’s frustrating, because [the media] always brings out [sic] the male members of the family,” one of them, Sama, said in a message she sent me from Italy. “It’s like, ‘did your father force you to make this choice that I actually made?’” Likewise, Lama, a French-Algerian woman now living outside France, laments the phenomenon of “white men in the media debating whether we should have the hijab.” The problem, she says, is that “it’s never about the objective garment, it’s about what the garment symbolizes [to them].”

The CJEU’s recent ruling resurfaces tensions between the right to freedom of religion and Europeans’ increasing discomfort regarding the visible face of Islam in the region. Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights sets a high bar for limiting the manifestation of freedom of religion. But the CJEU’s 2017 and 2021 rulings appear to attach greater weight to the concept of overall “neutrality” and, in the case of its recent decision, the effect on others – an issue that already weighs heavily on many Muslim women’s minds. Several women I spoke to described going through a draining mental exercise before leaving their homes – what I call the “friendly enough” test. “Muslim women look in the mirror in the morning and think, ‘do I look friendly? Do I look approachable?’” Maha, a journalist, explained. And it is not only men whose judgment these women worry about. Khadija, a young French-Algerian woman, confessed that she once stopped to put on red lipstick before going to an interview for a babysitting job. “I told them I wore the hijab ahead of time. I don’t know why I did that, preparing them for me,” she said. “I took out my lipstick and put it on so that [the mother] can see I am French, [that] I am not a terrorist.”

These psychological strains underscore the agonizing choice forced upon European Muslim women today between their faith and identity on one hand, and their nationality on the other. Whereas most European girls can dream of pursuing the career of their choice, Muslim girls in Europe face a demoralizing caveat: “but you cannot wear the hijab.” In a post-#MeToo world where young women are increasingly taught to be empowered, Europe’s Muslim women are being held back by legislation and told that their very appearance is problematic. Khadija went on to tell me that the experience of removing her hijab for a job when she was 19 left her feeling denigrated and ashamed. “It made me feel like I am nothing,” she said. “I am not the same as everyone else. I am a little bit lower.” She went on to ask, rhetorically, “What gives you the right to do that?”

Despite Europe’s stated values of emancipation, freedom, and self-sufficiency, the dearth of female Muslim voices in the European public debate over the hijab leaves many young women with little hope that the conversation will change. In a stark display of hypocrisy, some of the European politicians who decry Islam for being repressive and anti-feminist champion laws that threaten to strip away Muslim women’s agency. “Muslim women exist and have things to say when the subject concerns them,” Soumaya, 15, told me. “We are not objects, we think, we feel, we have free will, we are strong and intelligent and, above all, capable.” But, she said, “the media does not want to recognize that. It’s a pity.”

Rather than asking whether Islam is liberal enough to belong in Europe, the more relevant question today appears to be whether Europe is liberal enough to accept its female Muslim citizens – regardless of their attire – in public life. The debate will no doubt continue in Europe’s courtrooms. In the meantime, the lives and livelihoods of the region’s female Muslim population hang in the balance. As one young woman said to me resignedly, “I have to wait for a woman who doesn’t wear the hijab or a man to fight for me, because right now I don’t exist. I am no one.”

‘Europe’s Hijab Test’ – Commentary by Jasmine M. El-Gamal – Project Syndicate.

Source: Europe’s Hijab Test: War of the Headscarves and Death of Multiculturalism

Khan: We all have a role to play in rooting out Islamophobia

While I am not a fan of one-time summits to effect change, Khan’s more positive commentary worth noting. Noteworthy that the silence of the PM and other leaders on Quebec’s discriminatory bill 21 is highlighted. Money quote:

“With a federal election on the horizon, here are a few recommendations to party leaders whose words and actions carry great responsibility: Disqualify any candidate who has expressed xenophobia or has been affiliated with extremist groups; reject dog whistles to rile up your base; and finally, sign a memorandum of understanding among all party leaders to speak in unison against Bill 21 as an affront to fundamental human rights. Stop jockeying for Quebec votes on the backs of religious minorities.”

William Wordsworth famously wrote “the child is father of the man,” implying that childhood experiences shape our development into adulthood. Trauma, if left unaddressed, often leads to devastating consequences. We see this today in the aftermath of the Canadian government’s 150-year-old policy of cultural genocide toward the Indigenous peoples of this land.

Unfortunately, we are witnessing the emergence of a traumatized generation of Canadian children due to Islamophobia, exacerbated by the targeted killings of Muslims in Quebec City, Etobicoke and London. This alarming state of affairs was described in depth by lawyer Nusaiba Al-Azem at the National Summit on Islamophobia recently, which brought together government officials and members of the Muslim community for a spirited dialogue on ways to confront the scourge of anti-Muslim sentiment.

The summit wasn’t merely a gabfest, but provided a platform for community groups and experts to submit concrete policy recommendations, such as a national support fund for survivors of hate-motivated crimes, a special envoy for Islamophobia, and amendments to municipal bylaws and the federal Criminal Code to better deal with hate crimes.

On the issue of children, many panelists emphasized the importance of raising awareness of different cultures and faiths in our schools, so as to broaden the outlook of Canada’s youth. One excellent resource is the comprehensive Islamic Heritage Month Resource Guidebook for Educators developed for the Toronto District School Board. Pleas were made to review school curriculums with an anti-Islamophobic lens.

The plethora of voices at the summit included a new generation of leaders within the Muslim community that is articulate, insightful and fully immersed in Canadian culture and politics. A number of common themes did emerge from the diversity of opinions at the event.

First and foremost, there is an expectation that there will be tangible government action on the recommendations. Further consultations without action are not acceptable.

There is a pressing need to address online hate through legislation, since social media companies have failed to rein it in – with devastating consequences. This was tied to demands that the federal government take more forceful action against white supremacist groups.

Another common theme included the need to investigate anti-Muslim bias in a number of federal agencies, such as the Canada Revenue Agency, the Canada Border Services Agency and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service.

Gendered Islamophobia also emerged as concern, given that it is Muslim women who are bearing the brunt of hate-motivated incidents. The spate of attacks against veiled Muslim women in EdmontonCalgary, and Hamiltonrequires immediate action. No woman should ever be assaulted – let alone for what she chooses to wear in public. On the flip side, many hate incidents go unreported because victims don’t believe the police will take any concrete action. We need to build trust between law enforcement, the justice system and communities subject to hate-motivated attacks.

And while Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, cabinet ministers, elected MPs and other government officials all expressed support for many of these initiatives, their steely silence on one issue spoke volumes. Muslim panelists unanimously spoke of the harm fostered by Quebec’s Bill 21, which forbids public employees from wearing religious-based symbols in the workplace. Judge Marc-André Blanchard, ruling on Bill 21 this spring, described how it ostracizes, excludes and dehumanizes those targeted, but said it was nonetheless legal because of the notwithstanding clause. All groups at the summit called for the attorney-general to be involved in legal challenges to this discriminatory law, which targets religious minorities.

Rarely discussed at the summit was the role of the political class in fostering anti-Muslim sentiment. Erica Ifill, writing in The Hill Times, lays out the evidence of “a direct line from the political and policy responses following 9/11 to the murder of the Afzaal-Salman family.” Muslims were vilified as a result of the “barbaric practices” snitch line and the banning of the niqab at citizenship ceremonies. Less than two months after the mass shooting of Muslims at a Quebec City mosque, Conservative and Bloc MPs voted against a non-binding motion condemning Islamophobia.

With a federal election on the horizon, here are a few recommendations to party leaders whose words and actions carry great responsibility: Disqualify any candidate who has expressed xenophobia or has been affiliated with extremist groups; reject dog whistles to rile up your base; and finally, sign a memorandum of understanding among all party leaders to speak in unison against Bill 21 as an affront to fundamental human rights. Stop jockeying for Quebec votes on the backs of religious minorities.

Let’s not forget that each of us has the responsibility to work toward the kind of society we wish to foster – a place where every member feels safe, where we value the humanity of every individual, and where we respect differences – remembering that it is our common values that unite us.

Sheema Khan is the author of Of Hockey and Hijab: Reflections of a Canadian Muslim Woman.

Source: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/article-we-all-have-a-role-to-play-in-rooting-out-islamophobia/

Douglas Todd: Not much difference between Islamophobia and Christophobia

Or any other religious phobia.
In terms of hate crimes, official and unofficial statistics show a difference, as church burnings and attacks were virtually unheard of until the “discovery” of unmarked graves at former residential schools.
The extent of discrimination, bias and prejudice against Muslims and the Muslim faith is, as numerous surveys have indicated, is of course much higher than with Christians.
“Islamophobia: Dislike of or prejudice against Islam or Muslims, especially as a political force.”
“Christophobia: Intense dislike or fear of Christianity; hostility or prejudice towards Christians.”                                                    – Oxford Lexico

Is there a difference between Islamophobia and Christophobia?

The Oxford Lexico suggests subtle differentiations. But the similarities are more important: Both terms describe prejudice toward a religious group. And, tragically, in Canada there is now no shortage of shocking displays of both Islamophobia and Christophobia.

There have been assaults on Muslims, some deadly. There has been arson attack after attack on churches. Vandalism against sacred symbols is becoming the norm. Social media pours forth hate speech toward people of faith. Twitter doesn’t seem to care.

And this rising vitriol is not a result of animosity between Muslims or Christians. Something stranger is going on.Most Westerners are familiar with the term Islamophobia: Canadian politicians and others cite it often. As they do the scourge of anti-Semitism. Christophobia (which is also known as Christianophobia or anti-Christianity) is much less invoked: It’s virtually never named by Canada’s elected officials or commentators.

The extended definitions of Islamophobia and Christophobia, however, often refer to how the fear and dislike of these religions is “irrational.” That’s a crucial distinction, because there is little wrong with rational criticism of Christianity or Islam or any other world view, including atheism.

Any wisdom traditions that have been around for more than a millennia and which have so many followers (Islam 1.8 billion, Christianity 2.3 billion) are bound to have produced great things, but also deformities. Free expression includes the right to disapprove of a religion.But what we have been witnessing across Canada in recent months is something else: It’s violent bigotry.

A Muslim family was mowed down last month in a planned truck attack in London, Ont. Last week in Hamilton a Muslim woman and her daughter were openly threatened. These Islamophobic outrages come four years after a gunman killed six people attending a mosque in Quebec City.

And in the past month Christophobia has led to 25 Canadian churches across the country being burned to the ground, defaced or vandalized. In Surrey this week a Coptic Orthodox Church, frequented mostly by immigrants from Egypt, was destroyed by fire.

Journalists can’t keep up with the mayhem. And neither can the police, who are making precious few arrests. They’re silent about these being hate crimes.While brutal religious persecution has been common in many countries for centuries, the wave of attacks, arsons and vandalism in supposedly tolerant Canada is new.

Even though the arsonists aren’t revealing their motives, the church attacks appear to be a reaction to reports of hundreds of unmarked graves being found near government-funded residential schools, which began operating in the late 1800s.

There is now no shortage of rhetoric inciting the loathing of churches Ottawa hired to run many of the schools. But most of the online animosity is not coming from Indigenous people.

While many Indigenous leaders are angry at the legacy of the defunct school system, dozens of chiefs have decried the destruction of churches, including those on First Nations territory — given that a majority of Indigenous people are Christian.

Many “allies” of Indigenous people, however, are too ignorant and arrogant to listen to the chiefs’ messages.

Try inserting the term “Catholic church” into Twitter and see the casual contempt from non-Indigenous people. You’ll quickly find young influencers like @buggirl, who says, “if i don’t get to see the catholic church crash and burn to the ground within my lifetime i swear to f—ing god….”

Tragically, some so-called mainstream figures have fired off similar inflammatory comments. Harsha Walia, executive director of the once-venerable B.C. Civil Liberties Association, reacted to a tweet about the arson of two Catholic churches by remarking, “Burn it all down.” Which, her defenders say, is also a call for decolonization. At least she “resigned.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, despite diverting attention from Ottawa’s control of the schools by calling on the pope to apologize, has cautiously called the arson attacks “unacceptable and wrong.” But Trudeau’s long-time friend and former principal secretary, Gerald Butts, remarked on Twitter they are “understandable.”Meanwhile, Surrey’s Coptic Church leaders on Monday prodded B.C. Premier John Horgan to do more than blandly say earlier that burning down churches “is not the way forward.” Despite his meek statement on Twitter, many non-Indigenous activists mocked the premier for suggesting Christians deserve respect.

For some twisted reasons the burning of churches does not horrify a certain cohort.

It’s a cohort that would presumably be the first to say, rightly, it’s never “understandable” to attack a mosque — or a gurdwara, synagogue or Buddhist or Hindu temple.Do those who “understand” the torching of church sanctuaries forget Ottawa established residential schools in the first place? Would they support burning the Parliament Buildings? (I’m afraid to hear the answer.)

Maybe the rationale for believing it’s fine to hate Christianity and Christians is they represent the “dominant” religion of white Canada. The trouble with that is church attenders are a minority in the 21st century in Canada – and secular places like B.C. have never have been “Christian” provinces.

That’s not to mention two out of five immigrants to Canada are Christians. And a large proportion of Canadian Christians are people of colour: More than 120 Chinese churches, for instance, are peppered throughout Metro Vancouver, serving roughly 100,000 ethnic Chinese people. There are now 600 million Christians in Africa and 400 million in Asia.

The new Canadian brand of Christophobia seems most linked to those who trumpet decolonialization. The term originally meant “the process of a state withdrawing from a former colony.” But with almost no one leaving Canada, it’s now a fraught vision for the “removal or undoing of colonial elements” from throughout the land.

What that exactly means is hard to figure. But we are seeing signs of how this once-academic term is being understood by a dangerous fringe who would presumably condemn an Islamophobic attack but adopt a double standard on Christophobic arsons.

“All outbursts of anti-religious violence have at least one thing in common: They convey an ugly intolerance of difference and a refusal to recognize the humanity of an individual or a community,” says Ray Pennings, of Cardus, a Canadian think tank. “I fear church burnings could be an indication that Canadians are losing the ability to discuss faith publicly, using the vocabulary of civility and respect.”

We might never find out what’s going on in the fevered minds of the arsonists. But it’s clear there is tension between Canada’s decolonization movement and the ideals of truth and reconciliation.

For instance, when vandals on the weekend used a metal saw to cut down a decades-old cross overlooking the Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island’s Indigenous leaders again expressed their distress.

Some of the social-media crowd, however, urged replacing the eradicated Christian cross with a totem pole. Which sounds more like rewarding vandals’ criminal behaviour than reconciliation.

Canada is becoming increasingly filled with division and distrust. It’s hard to think it’s going to get better.

Source: Douglas Todd: Not much difference between Islamophobia and Christophobia