2,891 Murdoch Media Stories Trashing Islam In A Single Year, Study Reveals – New Matilda

Would be nice to have a comparable Canadian study, contrasting Postmedia (both their high brow and low brow brands), the Globe and the Star:

Loyal readers of New Matilda should remember One Path Network, a Muslim video production studio and media company in Sydney. They produced the first devastating report exposing Channel Seven’s favourite purported Muslim leader and sheikh, Mohammed Tawhidi.

Their calm and factual retort to Tawhidi’s lurid claims about Muslim conspiracies in Australia left his credibility in shreds.

The OPN team has come up with a new report on Islamophobia in Australian media. Disappointingly, I don’t think it has received any media coverage. Thus, New Matilda is proud to bring you a brief summary of its findings, and a few accompanying comments.

A quick summary of the report, complete with flashy graphs and images, and an accompanying short video, can be seen at this link. There’s also a longer PDF version, which can be downloaded at the site, and runs to 44 pages, though about 20 pages are devoted to front pages about Muslims. More on that shortly.

The report investigates how five newspapers covered Islam in 2017. Their primary metrics were a numerical count of certain types of stories, number of front pages, a few case studies, and a brief look at a handful of columnists reporting on Islam.

The newspapers were all Murdoch’s: the Australian, Herald Sun, Daily Telegraph, Courier Mail, and Adelaide Advertiser.

Articles were regarded as “negative articles written about Islam”, if they “referred to Islam or Muslims alongside words like violence, extremism, terrorism or radical”. It should be noted – this is a pretty expansive definition. A story that accurately reported a noteworthy incident of Muslim violence, without being inflammatory or misrepresenting material facts, and which had the respectful cooperation of Muslims, would still be caught up under this definition.

Indeed, the definition could go further. A report that noted Muslim women in a non-government organisation helping victims of domestic violence might also be caught up under this definition. It should also be noted – there is an implicit slippage, in the sense that a negative story about Muslims isn’t necessarily a story about Islam. Thus, I would argue that the definition may be overbroad.

With that proviso, it’s not much of a secret that the Murdoch press constantly attacks Islam and Muslims. So, given this definition, how frequent were stories featuring Muslims or Islam in a negative sense?

There were 2,891 of them. That’s almost 3,000 negative stories relating to Islam in one year. Which is an incredible amount. That’s almost eight stories a day, every day, for the whole year, somehow relating Muslims to terrorism or violence or whatever.

It’s a shame that the study didn’t investigate other media more fully. It would be interesting to know how they compare. The website guide to the report features an interesting comparison of Fairfax and Murdoch articles about Islam (in the sense explained above). Interestingly, though Fairfax has considerably less coverage of Muslims than the Murdoch press, it’s still pretty substantial, at over 100 every month. That is, over three negative stories every day at the less Islam-obsessed Fairfax. And even this gives an unfair disproportionate advantage to Fairfax – it is not clear which Fairfax publications were taken into consideration in this count.

The next metric is front pages. Here, the numbers are pretty stark. 152 front pages relating to Islam or Muslims in a negative way. The graph gives an idea of how regular that is, though it seems likely on some days multiple papers had Islam related stories on the front page.

The front pages blur out the non-Islam related stuff, and make the content of interest in focus. This is an idea of what those front pages looked like:

Again, a weakness in this study is the overly broad definition. One interesting case is a Daily Telegraph story headlined “A KICK IN THE ASSAD”, about the Trump administration bombing Syria. To my mind, that story doesn’t relate to Islam in any serious sense. Yet funnily enough, the bottom of the page says: “NSW TERROR: ISIS LINK TO SERVO STABBING MURDER”. The Tele was determined to claim its space in this report.

The report turns to case studies, what is calls “ridiculous highlights” from the year. The first example is the coverage of terrorism. They observe that “a casual observer would not be faulted for thinking that Australia was actively engaged in daily combat on its streets. In fact, it would hardly be surprising if that was the perception in the offices of the Daily Telegraph and The Australian.”

The section on Yassmin Abdel-Magied reaches a staggering count of over 200 articles about her. This obsession is utterly deranged. I fear that this year too, we’ll continue to see Murdoch hacks trolling her social media to find new anodyne liberal tweets to feign outrage over.

Possibly the most revealing part of the study relates to opinion writers at the Murdoch press. We all know their positions. Yet it is striking to see their obsession with Islam quantified. All of them write about Islam a lot. Miranda Devine, one of the least devoted Islam bashers, made 16 per cent of her 185 op eds about Islam. Janet Albrechtsen weighed in at 27 per cent, a bit less than Greg Sheridan at 29 per cent. Andrew Bolt and Rita Panahi came in at 38 per cent and 37 per cent – particularly impressive for Bolt, who produced 473 opinion pieces in the year (I suspect this counts blog items). Jennifer Oriel wrote 48 op eds, and over half were about Islam.

What is striking about this to me is that this is like a kind of one-sided cultural war. When the Australian decided to promote Keith Windschuttle, progressive academics rallied to defend historical truth. When they trash climate change science, other media covers the actual record of what’s happening to the world. When the Murdoch press run anti-feminist claptrap, there are plenty of feminists at Fairfax and the Guardian to strike back.

But there is no serious mainstream contestation of this constant drumbeat of anti-Muslim and anti-Islam stories and op eds. These are hundreds of op eds demonising Islam, without any real response. There are apparently no Muslims working at (say) ABC or Fairfax to give a different take on these issues, or complain about what the Murdoch press is doing.

The report concludes with some brief analysis and statistics, which are kind of incredible when paired. One is the finding from an Australian National University study that 71 per cent of Australians were concerned about the rise of Islamic extremism. A reasonable finding, one might think, given the nature of media coverage of Muslims (I really wish One Path would do a follow-up study on other media outlets).

(IMAGE: André-Pierre du Plessis, Flickr)

Yet Griffith University researchers found the second statistic: 70 per cent of Australians think they know “little to nothing” about Islam and Muslims. Which raises an obvious question about what public opinion might be like if the media in Australia did its job differently.

My major reservation about the study is the broad definition of negative stories about Islam. If we simply regard these as stories about Islam or Muslims connected to violence, terrorism, and extremism, then the findings remain shocking. This is a constant, endless deluge of stories about Islam and Muslims. The vast majority receive no counter-argument or response, whether in the Murdoch press or elsewhere.

There are no ensconced media platforms for Muslims to write about Islamophobia in Australia with the kind of relentlessness of a Bolt or Oriel. The study shows a vast media empire endlessly picking on a small Australian minority before a huge audience, without offering the victims any way of defending their names and religion before that audience.

And the study that documented this is being ignored.

Criticism of religious groups is good for religion – David Millard Haskell

While I disagree with some of his points regarding the term Islamophobia, his points on the benefits of religion being subject to criticism are valid:

The fruits of the Liberals’ anti-Islamophobia motion, M-103, that called for study and recommendation on religious discrimination in Canada, were revealed Feb. 1. The committee overseeing the issue released their report “Taking Action Against Systemic Racism and Religious Discrimination Including Islamophobia.”

The report has just two recommendations that specifically focus on Islamophobia. The first echoes the report title saying the government should “actively condemn systemic racism and religious discrimination including Islamophobia.”

The second is more substantive suggesting that Jan 29 “be designated as a National Day of Remembrance and Action on Islamophobia, and other forms of religious discrimination.”

For the last year Canadian Muslim groups, led by The National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM), have lobbied government to make Jan 29 a Canada-wide anti-Islamophobia day. The date marks the 2017 deaths of six Muslim Canadians gunned down in their Quebec City Mosque.

While Liberal MPs and leading Muslim organizations are supporters of the initiative, a Forum Research poll conducted a few weeks ago showed only 17 per cent of Canadians approve of designating such a day. Conversely, half disapprove; the rest don’t know or are ambivalent.

For many Canadians, overly broad definitions of “Islamophobia” lead them to reject the day of action. Some definitions of the term insist any criticism of Muslim people or Islamic practices — be it political, cultural, or religious — qualifies as Islamophobia.

In their critique of the Liberals’ report, the Conservatives noted 26 definitions of the term were used by witnesses appearing before the committee and some of those, if enforced, would lead to significant erosion of free expression.

The NCCM itself has, in the past, shown it favours a definition of Islamophobia that maximally curbs criticism against their faith. In a guidebook it helped produce for the Toronto Board of Education last year, the group endorsed a definition of the term that stated, in addition to prejudice or hate directed against Muslims, “dislike” directed “toward Islamic politics or culture” also qualifies as Islamophobia.

After protests from various community groups, that definition was amended.

The NCCM’s impulse to shield Islam from criticism may be linked to a particular understanding of Muslims’ sacred texts. Certain sections of the Qur’an and Hadith specify that insulting Allah’s word or his messenger is not permitted.

Whatever is motivating members of the NCCM or others of like mind to shut down critique of Islam, such thinking is misleading and misplaced. It’s misleading because it conflates criticism and discrimination. It’s misplaced because religion is at its best when subjected to constant and fervent critique. Criticism leads to necessary correction.

Some “case studies” from the world’s largest religion, Christianity, prove this point.

In the recent past, Christianity in the West, specifically its conservative Protestant variety — evangelicalism — has been exposed to a steady stream of invective for its treatment of homosexuals.

Of course, being subjected to public and media scorn isn’t enjoyable for evangelicals. On several occasions they’ve rightly complained about unjust criticism. However, overall, the process has led to a “conversion experience.”

In its most recent national survey of religious Americans, Pew Research Center determined that between 2007 and 2017, evangelicals’ support for same-sex marriage rose from 14 per cent to 35 per cent. Among younger evangelicals, Gen Xers and Millennials, acceptance rose to 47 per cent.

Ongoing sociological research in Canada suggests these same trends are reflected among our evangelicals.

While exposure to criticism can make religion better, sheltering it from critique makes it worse. Again, we can look to Christianity for our example.

Last year when speaking before the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors about the Catholic Church’s sex abuse scandals, Pope Francis blamed a religious culture hostile to challenge for the tragedies that occurred. “The old practice… of not facing the problem,” he said, “kept our consciousness asleep.”

In the West, unchecked abuse is not isolated to the Catholic Church. We now have examples of Muslims committing similar, long-standing transgressions in the absence of critique. Most dramatic is the sex trafficking ring of Rotherham, England.

From the late 1980s until the 2010s an organized group of Muslim men abused over 1,000 young girls. Official investigations concluded school, social service, and government personal were aware of a problem but didn’t speak out fearing their comments would be viewed as Islamophobic.

While fear of seeming bigoted may drive some non-Muslims to keep quiet, most Canadians — Muslim and non-Muslims alike — who want to restrict criticism of Islam are more nobly motivated. They believe that such action fosters unity in society.

But censorship is an acid, not a glue, when it comes to progress and social cohesion.

Source: Opinion: Criticism of religious groups is good for religion

M-103 report makes few recommendations about Islamophobia

One of the relatively few articles to date on the committee report (L’islamophobie divise encore le Parlement canadien being another). Have only glanced at the report but this article provides a reasonable summary.

Amused that the Committee advocated restoration of Canada’s Action Plan Against Racism. Apart from funding the collection of police-reported hate crimes data by StatsCan, most of the other initiatives were of limited utility (during the evaluation of CAPAR, I stated that it was too small in scope and impact and it would be no great loss if it was not renewed – save for hate crimes).

The policy and program capacity of the multiculturalism program has been greatly reduced so it will be interesting to see whether the government response is serious or, as previously with CAPAR, largely symbolic:

The report arising from the Liberals’ anti-Islamophobia motion, M-103, was made public on Thursday, and calls for a national action plan on racism and religious discrimination, better data collection on hate crimes and cultural sensitivity training for law enforcement.

But the report, titled “Taking Action Against Systemic Racism and Religious Discrimination Including Islamophobia,” makes almost no recommendations that specifically target Islamophobia, despite months of controversy over the use of the term in the motion tabled by Liberal MP Iqra Khalid in December 2016.

The report does recommend that Jan. 29 “be designated as a National Day of Remembrance and Action on Islamophobia, and other forms of religious discrimination,” in response to requests from Muslim groups after six Muslim worshippers were killed in a Quebec City mosque shooting on Jan. 29, 2017. On the one-year anniversary of the attack, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made a statement about the shooting and the importance of fighting Islamophobia, but did not declare the day a national day of action. Last week, the heritage department told the Post the government “has received and noted the proposal” from the National Council of Canadian Muslims.

Of the 30 recommendations, only one other specifically mentions Islamophobia, and only to say that the government should “actively condemn systemic racism and religious discrimination including Islamophobia.”

The report does not recommend the creation of any new laws. M-103 itself is a motion, not a law.

The original motion, which called on the government to conduct a study and come up with an approach to eliminate racism and religious discrimination “including Islamophobia,” generated a firestorm of controversy last year. Conservatives claimed the motion would restrict free speech because, they felt, the term Islamophobia is poorly defined. During committee hearings, several witnesses expressed concern that the motion would effectively stifle criticism of Islam.

But the recommendations outlined in the M-103 report target racism and religious discrimination in much broader terms. The report suggests the government should update the Canadian Action Plan Against Racism, published in 2005, and broaden it to include religious discrimination. Other recommendations call for the government to establish uniform guidelines and a national database for the collection of hate-crime data.

The report also recommends that federal, provincial and territorial governments take a closer look at the comparability of education and credentials obtained outside Canada, to combat employment barriers. Other recommendations call for more funding for research and for law enforcement to investigate Internet hate speech.

The report notes that the committee heard “differing views on the use of the term Islamophobia,” but does not offer an accepted definition of the term.

In a dissenting report, the Conservatives cast doubt on the premise of the whole exercise, calling into question whether Canadians are actually living in an “increasing public climate of hate and fear,” as the motion states. Their report suggests the per capita rate of hate crimes has declined since 2009.

The Conservatives also listed 26 different definitions of the term Islamophobia provided by different witnesses who appeared before the committee. “The concerns raised, regarding the dangers of an over-broad definition, or of attempting to condemn ‘Islamophobia’ without defining which thoughts and actions are thereby also being condemned, were widespread,” reads the Conservative report.

In their own list of recommendations, the Conservatives called on the government to “cease using the term ‘Islamophobia,’” and reiterate its support for freedom of speech and religion.

In an interview, Conservative MP David Anderson said communities and faith groups want to tackle issues of discrimination themselves, without government interference. “We don’t need the government to be overseeing every part of Canadian life,” he said. But he said the Conservatives agree with some of the report’s recommendations, including the need for better data collection. “No one is denying that (discrimination) exists.”

In a supplementary report, the New Democrats accused both Liberals and Conservatives of “political posturing” that diminished the committee’s work to tackle racism and religious discrimination. The report argues the government should have been more open to changing the language of the motion to include “an agreed-upon definition” of Islamophobia, but that “partisan politicking” got in the way.

“People wanted to know, in the context of the motion, what the term Islamophobia meant and what was the intent behind it,” NDP MP Jenny Kwan told the Post. “We could have all worked together to dampen the fear and the misinformation.”

Kwan said it made sense to include the term Islamophobia in the motion, because of the documented rise in hate crimes against Muslims. She believes the parties could have come up with a definition of the term that would have let all parliamentarians agree unanimously to the motion. But in an attempt from Liberals and Conservatives to appear to be on opposite sides of the issue, she said, that didn’t happen.

M-103 was passed by the Liberal majority last March, in the wake of the Quebec City mosque shooting. Throughout the hearings last fall, Liberal committee members frequently expressed frustration at the focus of some witnesses on the wording of the motion, and tried to steer the focus away from Islamophobia and onto racism and religious discrimination more broadly.

Anderson said the Liberals “misunderstood” how strongly Canadians would feel about the issue.

Source: M-103 report makes few recommendations about Islamophobia

Link to report: Committee Report No. 10 – CHPC (42-1) – House of Commons of Canada

Canadians don’t want an anti-Islamophobia day: [Forum] poll

Not surprising given other polling showing anti-Muslim attitudes or fears but in the end, not an issue that should necessarily be decided by public opinion. Demographics also not surprising:

Should Jan. 29 be set aside to combat Islamophobia?

That day — tomorrow —  is the first anniversary of the mass murder at the Islamic Cultural Centre in Quebec City. Six Muslims were killed in this hate crime.

Muslim, Jewish and Christian leaders in Canada would like to take a stand against intolerance and see Jan. 29th declared a National Day of Remembrance and Action on Islamophobia.

A recent Forum Poll suggests that many Canadians are against this.

Forum Research polled 1,408 Canadian voters and found half (49%) disapproved of designating such a day. Almost 40% disapproved strongly.

Approval came from only 17% of those polled; strong approval was noted among 7%.

The same number — 7% — say they don’t know, while fully a quarter (26%) neither approve nor disapprove.

So who is on the nay side? That would be older, wealthier men living in the Prairies or Alberta, half with university degrees and 69% of whom support the Conservative party.

Those who approve a National Day of Remembrance and Action on Islamophobia are aged 34 or younger and support the Liberals or the NDP. They are also the least wealthy (26%).

The question asked was: Would you approve or disapprove of a national day of remembrance and action on Islamophobia?

Results based on the total sample are considered accurate +/- 3%, 19 times out of 20.

Source: Canadians don’t want an anti-Islamophobia day: poll

Islamophobia won’t be the central focus of parliamentary committee’s M-103 report, sources say

The parliamentary committee tasked with preparing a report on racism and religious discrimination as required by M-103, the Liberal government’s controversial anti-Islamophobia motion, is about to make its recommendations public. But after months of debate over the definition of Islamophobia and the use of the term in a motion intended to address all forms of racism, sources say Islamophobia won’t be a central focus of the M-103 report.

The report’s recommendations largely don’t single out Islamophobia, say some sources with knowledge of the heritage committee’s discussions who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the report. “It’s certainly not the focus of the report,” one said, adding that Islamophobia is referenced, “but not at great length.”

Another source said that while the report does mention the debate over the definition of the term, it doesn’t “go on and on and on about it.”

M-103 was a motion tabled in December 2016 by Liberal MP Iqra Khalid, but only gained steam after the shooting in a Quebec City mosque last January that left six Muslim worshippers dead. The motion called for the government to “condemn Islamophobia and all forms of systemic racism and religious discrimination” and for the heritage committee to conduct a study on how the government could eliminate discrimination “including Islamophobia.”

Though a motion and not a piece of legislation — and though M-103 did not call for the creation of new legislation to address Islamophobia — it quickly became a political lightning rod, with many Conservatives arguing it would stifle free speech, as, they said, the term Islamophobia is poorly defined. A Conservative counter-motion calling for a general study of religious discrimination without singling out Islamophobia was defeated by the Liberals before M-103 was passed in March.

When the heritage committee began its work in September, some members said they’d been contacted repeatedly about the motion by constituents, some of whom expressed fears about Sharia law.

Debate continued over the wording of the motion throughout the committee’s public hearings, leaving Liberal members at times clearly frustrated and at pains to explain that the motion wasn’t just about Islam. “I personally feel we spent a lot of time on this issue of the terminology as opposed to addressing the root cause of the problem,” Liberal MP Arif Virani said during an October hearing.

There have been other signs that the Liberals have wanted to take the focus off Islamophobia, despite the motion’s connection to an attack on Muslim worshippers. “We’re not following the motion word for word,” Liberal committee chair Hedy Fry told witnesses in September. “We’re not having to slavishly follow anything in this motion.”

During the same hearing, NDP MP Jenny Kwan conceded that the language of the motion was “perhaps not the best.”

The heritage committee blew past its 240-day deadline for tabling its recommendations back in November. Sources say debate over the word Islamophobia continued into the committee’s roughly 10 hours of private meetings in December as the report was being prepared.

On Dec. 11, for instance, Conservative MP Scott Reid said on social media that he planned to move a motion to include a suggestion in the report that M-103 should use “anti-Muslim bigotry” instead of “Islamophobia.”

“The Conservatives were focused on the word, and after a while it became bordering on ridiculous,” one source said. Another said the in camera meetings were “complete madness.”

Still, another source said it was important to debate the term. “And I think that just based on the variety of evidence that we had before the committee, that goes to show you that it was a discussion people felt it was important to have.”

Ultimately, sources suggested, the report acknowledges disagreement about the word Islamophobia, but the recommendations don’t focus on anti-Muslim hate over any other type of discrimination.

That would be in line with many of the recommendations put forward by witnesses last fall, which included better collection of hate-crime data, better education, more training for police officers, and an updated national action plan against racism. Few of those recommendations singled out any ethnic or religious group.

The committee is expected to release its report shortly after the House of Commons returns next week.

Source: Islamophobia won’t be the central focus of parliamentary committee’s M-103 report, sources say

Malaise autour de la création d’une «Journée nationale contre l’islamophobie»

Valid debate between a commemoration versus a national day.

I prefer the existing day, International Day Against Racial Discrimination, March 21st, rather than the “boutique” approach for each community, as a means to foster understanding of the common experience many groups have faced or face (agree with Conservatives on this one even if their motives are somewhat suspect given their approach to M-103):

Le débat sur une possible « Journée nationale contre l’islamophobie » prend une tournure sémantique. Plusieurs partis politiques, tant à Québec qu’à Ottawa, jugent le mot « islamophobie » trop fort et « trop chargé » pour que le 29 janvier 2017, jour où un tireur fou a tué six musulmans, porte ce combat.

« Oui, le mot “islamophobie” est chargé. Et je trouve qu’on a assez débattu de divisions autour de la présence de la religion au Québec », a déclaré au Devoir Agnès Maltais, députée péquiste et porte-parole de l’opposition officielle en matière de laïcité. Elle souligne au passage qu’il existe un Collectif canadien anti-islamophobie dont le porte-parole est Adil Charkaoui, une personnalité controversée.

La semaine dernière, le Conseil national des musulmans canadiens (CNMC) a demandé au gouvernement Trudeau de faire du 29 janvier plus qu’une simple journée de commémoration de la tuerie à la mosquée de Québec et de lui donner le titre de « Journée nationale d’action contre l’islamophobie », un peu comme le 6 décembre, jour de la tuerie de Polytechnique, est devenu une « Journée nationale d’action contre la violence faite aux femmes ».

Le bureau de la ministre du Patrimoine, Mélanie Joly, a simplement indiqué mardi qu’il « prenait acte » de la proposition.

Québec solidaire est le seul parti qui appuie la création d’une telle journée. Mais le gouvernement libéral de Philippe Couillard ne ferme pas la porte. Quant à la Coalition avenir Québec, elle rejette l’idée d’une journée nationale d’action et estime suffisant que la tragédie soit commémorée.

« Il s’agit du geste intolérable d’une seule personne et non pas celui d’une société entière. Les Québécois sont ouverts et accueillants, ils ne sont pas islamophobes. »

Oui à une commémoration

En entrevue à Radio-Canada, Boufeldja Benabdallah, vice-président du Centre culturel islamique, s’est dit déçu des positions de la CAQ et du PQ.

« Jamais nous n’avons dit que les Québécois étaient islamophobes, jamais. C’est une mince partie et c’est sur cette mince partie qu’il faut travailler, qui fait beaucoup de bruit, beaucoup de mal, et qui a tué six personnes dans leur prière. »

Tous les partis sont toutefois d’accord pour que le 29 janvier soit réservé chaque année à la commémoration de l’attentat meurtrier de la mosquée de Québec.

« Soyons honnêtes, le meilleur outil qui va aller chercher l’appui de tous, c’est la commémoration », a affirmé Mme Maltais, du PQ. Elle souligne également que le gouvernement fédéral a attendu deux ans après la tuerie du 6 décembre 1989, soit en 1991, pour en faire une Journée nationale d’action contre la violence faite aux femmes.

L’historien de l’Université Laval Patrice Groulx soutient qu’il vaut mieux d’abord passer par l’étape de la commémoration, soit du deuil, en soulignant la mémoire d’un événement. « Il y a une forme de précipitation là-dedans qui pourrait être désagréable pour certains, a-t-il indiqué. Certains groupes veulent soulever la chose pour profiter d’un certain “momentum”, et c’est tout à fait légitime. Mais il y a la manière, les mots. Il faut être prudent. »

Une commémoration d’un événement meurtrier tragique ne se traduit pas toujours en « journée nationale d’action » — l’explosion du train à Lac-Mégantic par exemple —, mais M. Groulx reconnaît que la tuerie de la mosquée a le potentiel d’en devenir une, comme ce fut le cas pour Polytechnique sous la pression populaire.

« Avec le temps, on donne un contenu, une signification différente à un événement. C’est le dépassement social. »

Même malaise au fédéral

Demeurés silencieux jusqu’ici, les partis politiques au fédéral, sauf le Nouveau Parti démocratique, se sont finalement prononcés. Encore une fois, le mot « islamophobie » semble créer un malaise.

« Ce terme-là est loin de faire consensus », a indiqué Gérard Deltell, en refusant obstinément de prononcer ce mot tout au long de l’entrevue avec Le Devoir. Le Parti conservateur préfère parler d’une commémoration, « plus rassembleuse » et « plus inclusive », lui qui avait déposé une motion à la mi-décembre proposant de faire du 29 janvier la « Journée nationale de la solidarité avec les victimes d’actes d’intolérance et de violence antireligieuse ».

La même querelle sémantique avait divisé les partis fédéraux lorsque, dans la foulée des attentats de la mosquée de Québec, la libérale Iqra Khalid a voulu faire adopter l’an dernier une motion qui condamnait l’« islamophobie ». Les conservateurs refusaient là encore d’utiliser ce terme et voulaient plus largement que soient condamnées « toutes formes de racisme systémique », pas seulement celle à l’endroit des musulmans.

Le Bloc québécois rejette aussi l’idée d’une commémoration qui cible une religion précise. Après tout, l’État doit être laïque, a fait valoir la députée Marilène Gill.

Source: Malaise autour de la création d’une «Journée nationale contre l’islamophobie»

The Politics of the Ostrich: On Pascal Bruckner’s “Un racisme imaginaire: La querelle de l’islamophobie et culpabilité” – Los Angeles Review of Books

Good long review and discussion of Islamophobia by Reza Zia-Ebrahimi, King’s College London, one of the more comprehensive ones I have seen.

Highly recommended for members of the Canadian Heritage committee studying Islamophobia, among others:

OVER THE PAST DECADE, the prominent French intellectual Pascal Bruckner has emerged as one of the figureheads of a sustained assault on any public discussion of Islamophobia and the consequences it may have on its victims. He has published op-eds with titles such as “L’invention de l’islamophobie” (the invention of Islamophobia) and “L’islamophobie n’existe pas!” (Islamophobia does not exist!), where he has outlined many of the ideas that the reader will find in Un racisme imaginaire. Thus, those familiar with the man’s writing will find little novelty in this book. To add perplexity to disappointment, the book also lacks focus: indeed, in addition to declaring Islamophobia imaginary, Bruckner devotes significant sections of his book to shadow-box and disparage all the usual scarecrows of the French neoconservative movement: the 1968 generation, multiculturalism, the left under all its manifestations, “political correctness,” sociologists, anthropologists, occasionally the anglo-saxons, and rather consistently — “Islam.” It would take me far more than the space I have been here granted to address all the issues he raises, and will focus on what is the central theme of Un racisme imaginaire: the existence or inexistence of Islamophobia.

Bruckner opens his book by declaring point-blank that his objective is to “delegitimize the term Islamophobia, instil doubt about it, flank it with permanent inverted commas.” He does not therefore even pretend that he is going to engage with objective data, or carry out empirical research. His first round of attack uses etymology to delegitimize the term Islamophobia, and in doing so Bruckner essentially paraphrases the French journalist Caroline Fourest, who claimed in 2003 that Islamophobia as a term was the brainchild of the Iranian 1979 Revolution. [1]According to this theory, the Iranian “mullahs” coined the term to suppress women who refused to wear the Islamic veil. The argument is put forth without a shred of evidence, and as a historian of modern Iran who is familiar with the 1979 Revolution and the discourse of its founders and ideologues, I can confidently assert here that the claim is simply a fabrication and widely acknowledged as such (even by Fourest herself who, embarrassed, edited the online version of her 2003 article accordingly). Undeterred, Bruckner continues to promote the now discredited theory, and another one, also initially made by Fourest, according to which Islamophobia re-emerged during the controversy surrounding Salman Rushdie’s book The Satanic Verses and the fatwa against his life. As with the previous claim, no evidence is to be found, no quotation is reproduced, no source is referenced. And for good reason: the claim is fallacious. It took me about 10 seconds and a simple Google search to find a 2015 article where Rushdie declares, “Today, I would be accused of Islamophobia.” Which means that back in 1989 he was not.

Although the term Islamophobia occurs in French texts as early as the 1920s (something recognized by Bruckner), its present-day use cannot be traced to the machinations of Islamists as the Islamophobia negationists would have us believe, but is rooted in a conceptual need to name forms of hostility and discrimination experienced by Muslims. The origins of the term’s present-day incarnation is thus to be found in a 1997 report called Islamophobia: A Challenge for Us All, by a UK-based think tank dedicated to the study of racism, the Runnymede Trust. This fact is widely acknowledged by the literature on Islamophobia, that Bruckner sadly ignores throughout his book, thus seriously weakening its core argument. The purpose of Bruckner’s genealogy is simply to suggest that the term Islamophobia is tainted by some original sin, its origins invariably leading to some mad, bearded fanatic. The Iranian mullah story also presents the added advantage of pitting Islamophobia against the struggle of women against the Islamic veil. Two conceptual birds are hit with the same rhetorical stone, but it remains that it is this genealogy, rather than Islamophobia itself, that is imaginary.

The second negationist argument put forth by Bruckner relates to the instrumentalization of Islamophobia, which then becomes — in his words — “a weapon of mass destruction of the intellectual debate.” Islamophobia, he claims, was maliciously coined by “fundamentalists and their Marxist allies” (or “Islamo-gauchisme” as he calls the alliance) to write off as racist anyone attempting to criticize or reform Islam. Of course, it is perfectly conceivable that if you criticize “Islam,” someone might label you an Islamophobe. Bruckner has not reinvented the wheel: Islamophobia, just like any other concept, designation, or idea, can be instrumentalized. Disappointingly, Bruckner does not come up with many examples to illustrate what he believes is a new form of blasphemy law: first, he refers to a few cases in which French Catholic groups sued film directors for blasphemy. That his first example is one from the world of catholic militancy is telling enough. His second example refers to the Organization of the Islamic Conference’s attempt — supported by many non-Muslims states — to ban the defamation of religions in international law. An attempt that — it is worth stressing — has so far miserably foundered, making one wonder why it is a relevant example in the first place. Indeed, no “legitimate criticism of Islam” has ever been “silenced” as a result of that effort. Bruckner mentions a few other cases of clashes in the polemics of Islam in Europe, but none in my view where the accusation of Islamophobia was either central to the controversy, or — indeed — succeeded in forcing anyone into silence. He is right in pointing out that the terrorists who opened fire on the staff of Charlie Hebdo in January 2015 silenced, for good, individuals that they considered to have blasphemed against Islam. Nobody disputes that murdering individuals in cold blood is criminal and shocking. But then again, why should our ability to discuss Islamophobia be undermined by the actions of murderous jihadists? Would we not let them win by doing so? By refusing to discuss Islamophobia, we make it impossible to challenge the jihadist view that Europe is fundamentally Islamophobic and that Muslims have no place there, a view that according to most serious scholarship is one of their top recruitment pitches.

I can think of a perhaps more convincing example, not of the charge of Islamophobia as a tool for censorship, but as a tool for political expediency. When Austrian authorities banned rallies in Austria in favor of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s constitutional referendum in January 2017, the Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesperson called them racist and Islamophobic. No doubt, this is a case of political instrumentalization of the labels racism and Islamophobia, although I should rush to stress that the Turkish declaration had no effect whatsoever on the Austrian government, which seems to indicate that the accusation of Islamophobia is far from carrying the magical effects that Bruckner associates with it.

Provisional conclusion: Despite the paucity of Bruckner’s examples, instrumentalization is possible. That being said, Bruckner’s argument remains illogical. Ask yourself: Does the instrumentalization of a concept mean that the concept itself is inherently bankrupt? Does the phenomenon it refers to henceforth cease its tangible, objective, existence? The claim runs in the face of the most basic form of common sense. Let me illustrate my point. Many on the farther corners of the left liberally use the term “fascist” to discredit ideas or individuals that they find to be too far to the right of the political spectrum. For instance, many hard-left sympathizers in France routinely call the supporters of Marine Le Pen’s Front National party “fascists.” This is an instrumentalization of the concept of fascism designed to discredit one’s political adversaries. However, does this polemical usage mean that the concept of fascism is intrinsically flawed? Does it in itself negate the facts of history? Does it mean that Benito Mussolini was never born, and that the National Fascist Party never took power? Of course not, such flawed reasoning challenges basic rationality.

Another perhaps closer example: Few would deny that some instrumentalize anti-Semitism to silence any criticism of the state of Israel. Benjamin Netanyahu calls the BDS movement anti-Semitic. The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) calls Jimmy Carter (the US president who oversaw the Camp David Accords between Israel and Egypt) an anti-Semite because he criticizes Israeli policies. The ADL joined forces with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) to push through a bill that would criminalize criticism of Israel in the United States as anti-Semitic (the legislation failed on the Congress’s floor). In all these cases, anti-Semitism is instrumentalized to pursue a political agenda: silence criticism of Israel. Yet, does this instrumentalization automatically invalidate the legitimacy of anti-Semitism as a concept, an analytical category, an objective historical phenomenon, and a lived experience for many Jews around the world? Are we to suddenly believe that Jews were never subjected to slander, hostility, discrimination, segregation, and an attempt at genocide? Of course not. But it is exactly such profoundly flawed arguments that Bruckner and his like-minded negationists put forth to have us believe that Islamophobia is imaginary. A word or a concept cannot be held hostage by those who use or abuse it.

The third argument is perhaps the most mystifying and audacious. Bruckner, again following Fourest and her fallacious Iranian genealogy of Islamophobia, claims repeatedly that Islamophobia is used by repressive Muslim states as “a tool of domestic police against Muslim reformers and liberals.” Here again, Bruckner does not provide a single example. And again for good reason: taking the claim at face value would mean that the religious police in Iran or Saudi Arabia initially had their hands tied in the back. They were incapable of repressing what they perceived as anti-Islamic deviance, because they lacked the wordthat would allow them to do so. And then one day, hallelujah, the term Islamophobia was invented and now they could freely repress religious reformers, secularizing intellectuals, and unveiled women. The reasonably critical reader is left flabbergasted by the daftness of the argument. One keeps reading, hoping that Bruckner will attempt to strengthen his case, or cover his tracks … in vain.

Islamophobia is not defined as criticism of Islamic practices in any dictionary, encyclopedia, or scholarly work on the topic. It is generally defined as hostility toward, and discrimination against, people perceived as Muslims. As such, it stands to reason that Islamophobia is a reality. The European Union and the United Nations have programs in place that attempt to quantify Islamophobia. The hostility aspect of Islamophobia manifests itself in acts of degradation or vandalism against mosques or Islamic centers and cemeteries. Hostility also manifests itself in daily acts of aggression, anything from verbal abuse to physical attack and even murder. The number of such acts is constantly increasing in spite of Bruckner’s claim (based on one single year) that the opposite is true: in my hometown of London alone, the Metropolitan Police registered 1,300 Islamophobic hate crimes in the 12 months leading to March 2017, a whopping 370 percent increase over 2013. We have also recently witnessed an unprecedented number of murderous acts: in January of this year, a gunman known for his anti-Muslim views opened fire in a Québec City mosque, killing six and injuring 19. Individuals carrying such acts are not criticizing Islamic practices, they target individuals that they perceive as Muslims for their “Muslimness” and nothing else. When in July of this year a man drove his car into a crowd leaving the Finsbury Park Mosque in London killing one, he shouted, “I want to kill all Muslims” and “This is for London Bridge,” indicating that he considered all Muslims as collectively responsible for an earlier jihadi attack.

Islamophobia can also kill people on the left, as they are seen as the natural allies of “Islam” (what Bruckner calls islamo-gauchisme). When in 2011 Anders Behring Breivik cold-bloodedly murdered 77 innocent people, mostly young members of the Norwegian Labour Party, he believed that by killing left-wing militants he was curtailing the Islamization of Europe. Like Bruckner, Breivik believes that the left and “Islam” are in bed together in an attempt to Islamize Europe. Interestingly, a flick through Breivik’s tedious manifesto 2083: A European Declaration of Independence shows that this latter’s criticism of the term Islamophobia is similar to Bruckner’s, thus revealing broader ideological affinities.

The second aspect of Islamophobia is the experience of discrimination. Some very serious studies show identifiable and quantifiable forms of discrimination against individuals with Muslim-sounding names in the practices of the state or of private entities. For instance, it has been shown by Patrick Simon that if you have a Muslim-sounding name you are at a disadvantage in the dispensation of public housing in France. [2] A compelling study by Adida, Laitin, and Valfort has shown that you are 2.5 times less likely to be shortlisted for a job if you bear a Muslim-sounding name than someone with identical qualifications but a non-Muslim-sounding name. [3] Again, theology has nothing to do with any of this; this type of discriminatory attitude proceeds from deep-seated prejudices against Muslims as a group, something that can reasonably be called Islamophobia so that the phenomenon has a name.

In light of these examples (that could be multiplied), the question is not whether Islamophobia exists, because it does beyond any doubt. Rather, the question is why are Bruckner and other negationists so keen to convince us that it does not. Why do they recoil in horror when they hear the term? I would like to offer an explanation. If one were to grossly divide the French opposition according to various forms of racism, one would end up with two camps. The first group includes the spiritual disciples of Hannah Arendt, who see totalitarianism as the main impetus behind the Holocaust, and are mainly concerned with anti-Semitism as the supreme form of racism. The second group includes the spiritual disciples of Frantz Fanon, who espouse one form or the other of anti-imperialism, and are more focused on colonial and postcolonial forms of racism, including Islamophobia. The two groups are obviously not as neatly separated as I make it appear: after all Hannah Arendt herself contended in the second volume of The Origins of Totalitarianismthat racism was made necessary by European imperialism, and that the two were part and parcel of the history of the totalitarian state. Be that as it may, one can consider Bruckner as a thinker clearly anchored within the first group, genuinely concerned about anti-Semitism, and consistently in favor of Israeli and American foreign policies, including this latter’s disastrous invasion of Iraq. He abhors third-worldism, which he scathingly (and indiscriminately) attacked in his 1983 book The Tears of the White Man. Bruckner is one of the most vehement critics of anything smacking of anti-racism, which he considers as racism (you have to admire the audacious inversion). Any acknowledgment of wrongdoing in colonial history is nothing more than “self-hatred.” Therefore, one could claim that Bruckner belongs to an exclusivist strand within the group concerned with totalitarianism, emphatically opposed to any discussion linking colonialism and racism, and rejecting out of hand any claim that postcolonial forms of racism matter or even exist. Beyond the sometimes wild exaggerations and hyperbolic language necessitated by such immoderate stances, the recurrent vocabulary of totalitarianism is an indication of Bruckner’s categories of analysis, perfectly valid otherwise, but here radically disconnected from the topic at hand: he repeatedly claims that Islamophobia is comparable to “totalitarian propaganda,” the censorship methods of the Soviet Union, and a world akin to Orwell’s dystopian novel 1984.

In a vision of the world influenced by Samuel Huntington’s The Clash of Civilizations, where a neat, clearly delimited, liberal and democratic “West” is pitted against an equally neat, delimited, but repressive and hostile “Islam,” Muslims can only be represented as oppressors, or as oppressed by other Muslims. He claims that even in Myanmar, Muslims are victimized by their own kind, a lie that is frankly detestable in light of current events. In this rigid mental straitjacket, there is no possibility of envisioning a Muslim being simply a victim, especially of a Westerner’s racism, and God forbids a French person’s racism.

It is this ideological baggage that explains the recurrent attempts to delegitimize any discussion of, or research on, Islamophobia. Not because Islamophobia does not exist — it obviously does — but because it is an inconvenient truth that challenges the rather simplistic us versus them, black versus white, ideational universe described above. Bruckner pours ridicule on Muslims who experience gratuitous antagonism or discrimination, by contending that being subjected to racism is not humiliating or traumatizing, but it is a prize, a status, a cachet, that Muslims cunningly seek. Worse, it is a usurpation of the status of the realand exclusive victims of racism: Jews. He contends that by complaining of Islamophobia, Muslims try to pass for Jews, or rather — as he scornfully puts it — “substitute Jews.” He rightly contends that Jews can be “racialized,” and that as a result anti-Semitism is a form of racism. However, he denies that racialization can be applied to Muslims. In other terms, you are born a Jew but being Muslim is voluntary. This curious contradictory claim runs in the face of a significant literature that highlights that anti-Semitism and Islamophobia are bothcharacterized by discursive dynamics that “racialize” the followers of a faith into a group with inherent psychological characteristics.

How can a thinker so genuinely touched by the plight of the victims of anti-Semitism be so insensitive to the plight of victims of Islamophobia? The answer is inescapable: for Bruckner, there is a hierarchy of racisms. Some are unacceptable, some are acceptable, a binary that reflects a hierarchy of humankind in Bruckner’s mind.

Anyone who opens Bruckner’s book hoping that he might be the long-awaited freethinker who will at long last transcend the above described divide between the opponents of anti-Semitism and colonial racisms, and make the overdue point that racism is always unacceptable, will be disappointed. Un racisme imaginaire is a collection of hackneyed attacks on the field of Islamophobia studies, and not a work concerned with objective facts. It is a cross between a long rant and an ideological pamphlet. Undoubtedly, there will be no shortage of readers happy to absolve its shortcomings and its ideological fanfare as the mostly positive reviews in the French media suggest. Yet, it remains that the book is addressed to a public that has already made up its mind on Islamophobia. For the rest of us, who expect claims to be backed up with a modicum of evidence or rational argumentation, the book is merely a primary source, a document that helps us gauge the state of the intellectual debate in the age of “fake news” and “alternative facts.”

via The Politics of the Ostrich: On Pascal Bruckner’s “Un racisme imaginaire: La querelle de l’islamophobie et culpabilité” – Los Angeles Review of Books

M-103 committee hears calls for better data and a definition of Islamophobia

Nice to see the Post addressing its previous lack of balance in its coverage of the M-103 hearings. And most of the recommendations mentioned below are reasonable and innocuous, unlike some of the earlier fear mongering:

Better hate crime data, more training for law enforcement and a clear definition of Islamophobia are some of the recommendations the House of Commons heritage committee has heard most frequently as part of its racism and religious discrimination study required by Motion 103.

The anti-Islamophobia motion M-103 touched off a firestorm of controversy en route to its passage in March. Put forward by Liberal MP Iqra Khalid, it asked the government to “recognize the need to quell the increasing public climate of hate and fear.” Though it is not a law, critics have claimed it will lead to the stifling of free speech by preventing people from criticizing Islam.

Many of the recommendations heard by the heritage committee this fall amount to little more than calls for better education and more support for victims of hate crimes.

Witnesses testifying before the committee have repeatedly raised the lack of data on racism and hate crimes, calling it a significant problem. In June, Statistics Canada reported that hate crimes targeting the Muslim population had increased by 61 per cent between 2014 and 2015, and that hate crimes overall had increased by five per cent. But the agency also noted that the reported data “likely undercounts the true extent of hate crime in Canada, as not all crimes are reported to police.”

Last week, the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) testified that the collection of hate-crime data “varies widely by police department,” and urged the federal government to “establish uniform, national guidelines and standards.”

On Monday, Serah Gazali of Frog Hollow Neighbourhood House, a community organization in Vancouver, said Canadians also need better education about their rights and their options for reporting hate crimes. “I think (victims) talk about it within themselves and perhaps it’s normalized,” she said. “So they don’t think of it as something that needs to be really addressed.”

Other witnesses have called for police officers to receive more training about how to deal with victims reporting such crimes.

Some have also argued that Canada’s existing hate-crime laws must be strengthened or better enforced.

“Federal government resources should be allocated to support the development of dedicated local police hate-crime units,” CIJA CEO Shimon Fogel included among his recommendations to the committee. “These units have been integrated into several police services across Canada, and have constituted an unmitigated success.”

The delegation from Frog Hollow Neighbourhood House, which was presenting recommendations from a community round-table organized with help from NDP MP Jenny Kwan, said the government “should strengthen laws against hate speech and crimes by providing a much more clear and inclusive definition of hate crime and Islamophobia.”

Witnesses throughout the hearings have suggested that Islamophobia, the term at the heart of the motion, needs to be better defined. “The term Islamophobia has been defined in multiple ways, some effective and some problematic,” Fogel argued. “Unfortunately, it has become a lightning rod for controversy, distracting from other important issues at hand.”

On Monday, Gazali went further, suggesting that Islamophobia should explicitly be criminalized. The Criminal Code of Canada currently forbids the public incitement or promotion of hatred “against any identifiable group,” and the Canadian Human Rights Act prohibits discrimination on grounds including race, national or ethnic origin and religion.

Since the hearings began last month, a number of witnesses have recommended an updated national action plan against racism, similar to a plan released in March by Ontario. The federal government first released its own action plan in 2005, but Shalini Konanur, executive director of the South Asian Legal Clinic of Ontario, said the old plan is “too general.” [Note: the previous action plan, CAPAR, was largely symbolic, with the one meaningful initiative being the collection of police-reported hate crimes data.]

The Ontario plan, she said, targets four pillars: Islamophobia, anti-black racism, Indigenous racism and anti-Semitism. “Within those four pillars, there are very clearly identified targets for what the government hopes to do within the next five years,” she told the committee in September.

Education and employment are other areas where action is needed, according to some witnesses. Ayse Akinturk, an executive with the Muslim Association of Newfoundland and Labrador, pointed to the challenges many immigrants encounter in trying to work as professionals in Canada. “I think recognition of foreign credentials, international credentials should become a much facilitated procedure,” she said Monday. “It takes really a lot of effort and years, at the end of which people give up and try to find other solutions to make a living for themselves.”

Others have recommended mandatory anti-racism training for government employees, and that Ottawa should work with the provinces to improve childhood education on diversity and multiculturalism.

In recognition of a shooting at a mosque in Quebec City that left six people dead earlier this year, Ihsaan Gardee, executive director of the National Council of Canadian Muslims, recommended that Jan. 29 be declared a “national day of remembrance and action on Islamophobia in Canada.”

Source: National Post

Some fears of Islam justified: Lawyer [David Matas]

Sun Media continues to cover the perspectives of those concerned without comparable coverage of those in support of M-103. Both perspectives need to be covered.

My (faint) hope is that the Canadian Heritage committee will come up with a consensus on a working definition, one that puts that particular canard behind us, and allows focus on the day-to-day practical issues:

A celebrated Canadian human rights lawyer urged MPs to be careful in their use of the term Islamophobia, saying “fear of some elements of Islam is mere prudence.”

David Matas, an Order of Canada recipient who began his career as a clerk for the Chief Justice of Canada in the 1960s, delivered testimony Wednesday before the M-103 committee hearings in his capacity as senior counsel to B’nai Brith Canada.

“Not every fear of Islam is Islamophobia,” Matas said to the House of Commons Heritage Committee, noting that anyone who is not afraid of the various radical Islamic terrorist outfits in the world is “foolhardy”.

“Islamophobia does not appear in a vacuum,” Matas told MPs. “It grows out of a fear of incitement and acts of hatred and terrorism coming from elements of the Islamic community.”

The Winnipeg-based lawyer, who ran for office years ago as a Liberal, recommended the committee take a “dual focus” approach on both those victimized by Islamophobia and those within the Islamic community inciting hatred and terrorism.

Following Matas’ testimony, Shimon Fogel, CEO of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, urged the committee to aim towards a more precise definition of Islamophobia.

M-103 was nominally designed to denounce, and study, all forms of racism and discrimination, but has faced extensive controversy for singling out Islam.

Fogel pointed to a Toronto District School Board booklet’s definition of Islamophobia that included mere dislike of political Islam as worthy of censure.

“This incident exposes significant problems with relying on ad hoc, inadequate definitions of Islamophobia,” said Fogel.

On Monday, Muslim author and Sun columnist Farzana Hassan told the committee her concerns about how the term is used in other countries to suppress criticism from within the faith.

Source: Some fears of Islam justified: Lawyer | St. Thomas Times-Journal

By discouraging criticism of Islam, M103 could make it harder to combat anti-Semitism

Striking looking at the list of witnesses before the Canadian Heritage committee studying M-103 of just how polarized the positions are, almost to the extent of parallel universes, with relatively few who bridge the gap.

B’nai Brith plays a useful role in flagging issues, as they did in flagging the issue regarding the TDSB Islamophobia guidebook.

One of the useful contributions of the Conservative government to multiculturalism was its recognition that broad anti-racism program did not address how racism played out differently for different groups. As a result, they focussed on antisemitism with a number of major initiatives, including the long overdue joining of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, the hosting of the Inter-Parliamentary Coalition for Combatting Antisemitism and the holding of unofficial parliamentary hearings on antisemitism.

Similarly, the same logic, that general messaging may not be enough to address – and debate – the concerns of Canadian Muslims, also applies to M-103.

And just as the working definition of antisemitism tried to provide some clarity on when criticism of Israeli policies crossed over to antisemitism, the same would be useful with respect to criticism regarding Muslims that crosses the line between legitimate concerns and anti-Muslim speech.

But unclear to date whether the hearings will get us there:

Recently, B’nai Brith drew attention to an official guidebook published by Ontario’s largest school board that condemned Islamophobia and defined the term to include “dislike directed… towards Islamic politics or culture.”

While the Toronto District School Board quickly realized its error and pledged to replace this absurdly broad definition, it must be noted that the guidebook was prepared with the support of the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM), a group that has campaigned strongly in favour of M-103. One would assume that the NCCM is an authority on the proper definition of Islamophobia.

To be clear, banning or even discouraging any “dislike” of “Islamic politics” would make it nearly impossible to combat the virulent Jew-hatred that we have seen emanating from some Muslim institutions in Canada.

Canada cannot become a haven for anti-Muslim bigotry. But, by the same token, we cannot allow a misguided reluctance to criticize anything dubbed Islamic to stymie the protection of Canada’s most targeted religious minority — Canadian Jews.

Source: By discouraging criticism of Islam, M103 could make it harder to combat anti-Semitism | National Post