ICYMI: Some parties matter. The Islamic Party of Ontario doesn’t.

Good column by Michael Coren:

It’s not difficult to establish a political party in Canada. A few forms and signatures, a handful of supporters, and any of us can pretend to be aspiring premiers and prime ministers. Some parties matter, while others simply don’t. I’m reminded of Monty Python’s “Election Night Special” with its Silly Party, Sensible Party, and Very Silly Party. Now we have something called the Islamic Party of Ontario, which, according to the usual suspects on the political hard right, is an existential threat to all we hold sacred.

Well-known journalist Tarek Fatah wrote a column in the Toronto Sun about the new party, claiming that its founder, Jawed Anwar, had previously condemned him as an enemy of Islam who therefore deserved to die. If this is so, it’s deplorable. The column was syndicated throughout Canada, and picked up and commented on abroad. But it all seems a little tenuous, and the so-called party something of an illusion.

When this story broke, Anwar had a derisory 60 followers on Twitter, most of them conservatives, anti-Muslims, and bots. After Fatah’s column appeared, and various conservative writers and hard-right social-media warriors had screamed about this terrible foe of Canadian values, his followers increased to 160, including bizarre nationalist Faith Goldy, other well-known right-wing figures, and even some branches of the Conservative Party.

It all seems rather curious and odd, especially since Anwar has publicly and aggressively supported Ontario Premier Doug Ford. It’s also significant that Anwar and his party seem to be largely anonymous within the Muslim community, and when Muslim leaders have been informed about the new organization, they condemn it, not support it.

There is something else, and something that is deeply disturbing. A video purporting to be in support of this new party suddenly featured on social media, and was viewed numerous times. It labels itself a “Message for LGBTQ from the Islamic Party of Ontario,” and is hosted by a man dressed in what appears to be cartoon Muslim dress. He speaks of murdering gay people by fire or by sword, or throwing them from the tops of tall buildings. He purposefully mispronounces English words, and declares there is nothing to fear from Islam.

Truly awful stuff. But this man is actually someone called Eric Brazeau, a notorious Islamophobe who has long appeared at demonstrations and meetings, and who has even served time in jail for his dreadful and hateful activities. For this, he’s considered a martyr by some anti-Muslim zealots. They surely must have recognized him from the video, but said nothing about his true identity.

Yet none of this prevented a number of leading alt-right commentators from blogging and broadcasting about this new party and about the danger it posed to Canadian peace and democracy. Candice Malcolm, for example, is the founder and a senior fellow of the True North Initiative. She wrote, “Let’s talk about the Islamic Party of Ontario. They’re already threatening journalists and dissenting Muslims,” then broadcast about what she saw as impending doom.

It’s all a tempest in a teacup, really, and while the party’s ultra-conservative policies are grim, hardly anybody has even read them, let alone given them any credibility. It’s worth noting that the Christian Heritage Party has existed for more than 30 years, opposes abortion, euthanasia, and equal marriage, wants to eliminate secular education and to introduce “biblical values” into Canada. Very few people vote for it, which is what democracy and the right to choose and decide is all about. Perhaps it can form a working alliance with the Islamic Party of Ontario!

It’s one thing to expose and condemn the very real threat of genuine Islamist violence, but another to insist that support for such violence is ubiquitous, and to imply that the vast majority of Muslims support it. This is horribly unfair, downright racist, and plays into the hands of the authentic zealots who want to divide society and convince Muslims they’re not welcome in the West. There is nothing new about such politics, and it stinks of the approaches taken by historical despots against various ethnic and religious scapegoats.

By the way, in Monty Python’s political parody sketch, the Silly Party and the Very Silly Party split the silly vote. Someone should alert right-wing commentators; it could be a story.

Source: Some parties matter. The Islamic Party of Ontario doesn’t.

Protester gets 9 months for promoting hatred against Muslims | Toronto Star

An example of a hate crime, Eric Brazau’s distributing leaflets and harassing a Muslim man:

Outside the court, Brazau said he will appeal his sentence. He says he is aware the flyer was “problematic” and “would offend.”

But his voice won’t be silenced, Brazau added, though he will keep in mind the hate speech laws, which he says he has learned to navigate over the past few months.

“Hatred is the harvest he wanted to gather,” [Judge] Clements said in his conviction decision, quoting William Butler Yeats. “I find this is true of Mr. Brazau.”

Protester gets 9 months for promoting hatred against Muslims | Toronto Star.