Daphne Bramham: Muslims and Sikhs of Indian descent want Canada to do more to protect them

Of note:

Like Canadians of Chinese, Uyghur, Tibetan, Russian and Iranian descent, organizations representing the Indian diaspora say their members have been subject to foreign intimidation and have seen evidence of India attempting to interfere in elections here.

They’re urging Canada to set up a foreign agents registry and add India to the list of governments exerting undue influence here.

“Canada’s racialized communities are simultaneously some of the most targeted — and vulnerable — for foreign interference, intimidation and harassment in pursuit of securing the policy objectives of foreign states,” says a March report released by the B.C. Gurdwaras Council and the Ontario Gurdwaras Committee.

That’s echoed in a joint report by the National Council of Canadian Muslims and the World Sikh Organization of Canada, also released in March.

While the reports are aimed at raising awareness, they also underscore just how complicated the issues of foreign interference and diaspora politics are.

The World Sikh Organization has been linked to the Sikh separatist movement. As recently as 2018, “Sikh extremism” was mentioned in the Canadian Security Intelligence Service annual assessment of domestic terror threats. The reference to Sikh extremism was later removed because it “unintentionally maligned certain communities.”

During Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s visit to India in 2018, concerns were repeatedly raised about Sikh separatists in Canada, and included the four Sikhs in his cabinet.

It’s a link so deeply embedded in the Indian consciousness that after a father was stabbed to death outside a Vancouver Starbucks last week and Inderdeep Singh Gosal was arrested, a Delhi-based journalist tweeted — without evidence — that it was “a shocking murder by a Khalistani radical.” Other Indian media websites posted similar descriptions.

The two March reports blame the continued stereotyping of Sikhs and Muslims on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu-first policies and its attempt to spread its message to the Hindu diaspora through a network of organizations aligned with the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.

Since the Bharatiya Janata Party came to power in 2014, human rights groups have raised concerns about the erosion of civil rights, arbitrary detention of activists, journalists and critics, and the use of counterterrorism laws to silence dissent.

In 2022, Amnesty International reported that the Indian government “selectively and viciously cracked down on religious minorities, and explicit advocacy of hatred by political leaders and public officials towards them was commonplace and went unpunished.”

It noted that “punitive demolitions of Muslim family homes and businesses were carried out with impunity.” Peaceful protests were treated as a threat to public order, and minority and marginalized communities continued to face violence and entrenched discrimination.

The joint Muslim and Sikh report alleges the Indian government — through its diplomats and an expanding network of aligned organizations — is attempting to spread the message through “bold and often public stereotyping of Muslims and Sikhs as anti-Indian, anti-Canadian, and Hindu-phobic terrorists working to discredit the BJP’s reputation and accomplishments across the world.”

The gurdwaras report echoes that concern, alleging that Indian diplomats and intelligence agencies are trying to “persuade Canadian policymakers to criminalize and prosecute Sikh political advocacy in Canada under the guise of ‘countering extremism.’”

Among the evidence cited of Indian government interference is a CSIS document filed in a 2018 immigration case. Global News reported in 2020 that CSIS said the Indian citizen, an editor known only by his initials, was involved in espionage.

It said he attempted to sway politicians into supporting Indian government interests following more than two dozen meetings in Canada with agents from India’s two main intelligence branches.

Since 2014, the joint Sikh and Muslim report says, there has been a rapid expansion of both the radical Hindu nationalist network called the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and the Overseas Friends of the Bharatiya Janata Party, which is listed on the American’s registry of foreign agents.

In 2018, the Canadian Overseas Friends of the Bharatiya Janata Party and its chapters in B.C., Alberta, Manitoba and Ontario changed their name to Canada India Global Forum.

According to the forum’s website, its mission is to “utilize the Indo-Canadian diaspora in Canada to help promote and strengthen the economic, bicultural and political ties.”

The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh played a key role in Modi’s party winning successive majorities in 2014 and 2019. Quotes from its founders and early leaders citing Nazi Germany as an inspiration are included in the report. It warns that the Indian government’s nationalist policies pit Hindus against other religious minorities and that message is being exported here.

It also says that the “sectarian, discriminatory, and often hateful antipathy toward those framed by RSS and Hindutva ideology as enemies … pose a direct threat to Muslim and Sikh communities, as well as to the social fabric of Canada.”

It singles out Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh as part of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s Canadian network, noting that photos on the group’s Facebook page include images of some of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s earliest leaders “often strewn with flowers.”

Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh is a tax-exempt charity with 25 Canadian chapters or shakhas including some operating out of public schools in Ontario.

According to the its website, it encourages “maintaining Hindu cultural identity in harmony with the larger community” through structured programs of regular athletic and academic activities that develop leadership skills “emphasizing values such as self-discipline, self-confidence and a spirit of selfless service for humanity.”

Coincident to foreign interference in Canada widely discussed last month, hundreds of people gathered in Vancouver outside the Indian consulate and rallied in Prince George to protest mass arrests, internet and mobile phone shutdowns in Punjab as police hunt for activist Amritpal Singh.

Singh has been described as the leader of a renewed Sikh separatist movement and is being sought by police for attempted murder, obstruction of law enforcement and creating disharmony.

If this is a harbinger of rising Sikh separatist sentiment in Canada, Canada will have to respond, adding a further complication to the knotty problem of protecting Canadians from foreign interference, while also ensuring all citizens’ right to speak freely and be free from discrimination.

Source: Daphne Bramham: Muslims and Sikhs of Indian descent want Canada to do more to protect them

Le «Québec bashing» pour faire avancer l’agenda islamiste

Of note:

Je suis arrivée du Maroc en 2005 accompagnée de mes deux jeunes garçons de un et trois ans. Je ne me sauvais pas d’une situation de violence particulièrement grave, mais d’un état de dépendance et de soumission assez banal pour une femme dans une culture arabo-musulmane.

Cela n’a pas été facile de redémarrer une vie de mère de famille monoparentale dans un nouveau pays, mais le Québec a été pour moi une destination de rêve, et je suis reconnaissante de l’accueil dont j’ai bénéficié. J’ai toujours trouvé injustes les accusations de racisme et d’islamophobie dont les Québécois sont la cible. Je me sens plus respectée au Québec que je ne l’étais dans mon pays d’origine. C’est ici que je me suis sentie citoyenne à part entière, libre de mener ma vie comme je l’entendais, sans jugement, et j’ai le sentiment d’avoir bénéficié de l’égalité des chances.

On parle beaucoup d’islamophobie, mais on ne parle jamais de la pression communautaire qui pèse sur les ressortissants des pays arabes pour les forcer à se conformer à des normes culturelles et religieuses et les empêcher de s’intégrer dans leur pays d’accueil. Mon expérience récente dans le milieu associatif montre à quel point il est difficile de faire émerger un islam humaniste au Québec, et comment les accusations de racisme et d’islamophobie contre les Québécois sont utilisées pour faire avancer des objectifs islamistes.

J’avais envie de m’investir dans le milieu associatif pour aider d’autres ressortissants de pays musulmans, surtout les jeunes, à s’en sortir. Je voyais le danger de la radicalisation et l’influence que certains prédicateurs ont sur les jeunes ici même, à Montréal. Mon neveu de 25 ans habitant à Laval, plein de talent et de joie de vivre, artiste peintre, parolier, bon joueur de soccer, est soudain tombé entre les griffes du radicalisme. Du jour au lendemain, il a arrêté ses études, ses activités artistiques et le sport, pour se consacrer à la religion. J’avais tellement envie de crier fort : laissez les enfants vivre sans influence religieuse, arrêtez de les endoctriner.

Dès que j’en ai eu la possibilité, j’ai donc décidé de m’investir dans la société civile. Le passage à Montréal d’un penseur égyptien prônant une approche humaniste de l’islam m’en a donné l’occasion. Autour de ce penseur, la possibilité de créer une association de citoyens de culture arabo-musulmane favorables à la laïcité s’est présentée. Dans le cadre de cette nouvelle association, nous avons commencé à organiser des activités culturelles et des rencontres virtuelles avec des membres dans différentes villes du Canada et des États-Unis.

Arme aux mains des intégristes

Cependant, une personne très connue dans le milieu associatif et très influente dans une certaine communauté musulmane de Montréal prenait de plus en plus de place dans la direction de l’association. Le temps accordé aux personnes non pratiquantes, athées ou favorables à la laïcité diminuait au bénéfice de nouvelles personnes qu’il invitait, ayant des idées plus proches d’un islam radical. Lorsque je lui en parlais, il m’expliquait qu’il était important d’écouter ces personnes pour les amener un jour à changer d’idées.

Je n’étais pas convaincue par ses arguments, mais étant donné sa notoriété et son expérience associative de plus de trente ans, j’acceptais. Cependant, plus le temps passait, plus des personnes défendant l’islam politique se joignaient à l’association qui, rappelons-le, avait été créée justement pour faire face aux idées de l’islam politique.

À chaque occasion qui se présentait — rencontres en personne, virtuelles ou téléphoniques —, ce monsieur trouvait le moyen de décrire le Québec comme une province raciste et islamophobe. Il utilisait toutes les tribunes pour diaboliser le Québec. Lorsque j’intervenais pour parler de mon expérience positive au Québec, il ridiculisait mes propos et expliquait que si j’étais bien accueillie, c’était en raison de mes positions « anti-islam ».

Ma position en faveur de la loi 21 est ce qui m’a valu le plus de moqueries de sa part. Il insinuait que je voulais plaire aux Québécois et que je n’étais qu’un instrument entre leurs mains. Lors de la nomination d’Amira Elghawaby comme représentante canadienne à la lutte contre l’islamophobie, il fit des pressions sur moi pour que je ne puisse pas exprimer mon avis contre sa nomination.

C’est à la suite de la dernière rencontre que j’ai décidé de quitter l’association. Parmi les intervenants, il y avait une maman syrienne qui racontait son expérience douloureuse en nous montrant la photo de sa fille dans la vingtaine tuée par Daech [groupe État islamique]. Lorsque la réunion fut terminée, ce monsieur réagit violemment en interdisant la diffusion d’une vidéo présentant nos interventions et déclara que la maman n’aurait pas dû qualifier Daech d’organisation terroriste.

L’association dont j’avais été membre fondatrice n’avait plus rien d’humaniste ni de laïque.

Je ne sais pas quel sera le mandat de la représentante canadienne à la lutte contre l’islamophobie, mais je sais que ce concept est une arme aux mains des intégristes pour faire avancer leurs objectifs politico-religieux et pour creuser un fossé entre les musulmans et les autres. Il y a de quoi s’inquiéter.

Source: Le «Québec bashing» pour faire avancer l’agenda islamiste

Diversity Initiatives Are Failing the U.S. Muslim Community

Interesting new term for me, “crisis diversity:”

Over the past decade, the Muslim community has become included in diversity initiatives in the United States. Hollywood is finally producing shows that feature Muslim characters, such as Hulu’s Ramy, Netflix’s Mo, and Disney+’s Ms. Marvel. Universities are adjusting dining hall hours to accommodate Muslim students who fast during Ramadan, and they are increasing the number of reflection spaces on campus to facilitate Muslim ritual prayer. Nike launched its Pro Hijab, a headscarf for Muslim women athletes, and Olympic medalist Ibtihaj Muhammad became its model. Muhammad also served as the inspiration for the first Muslim Barbie doll.

These initiatives enhance our sense of belonging as Muslims in the U.S.—but they are not enough to actually challenge Islamophobia.

How did Muslims come to be included in diversity plans in the U.S.? My research shows that this happened in the wake of crises, or moments that made it clear that Islamophobia was a problem. Diversity initiatives born out of crisis can produce important social change, but responding to a momentary flare up as opposed to longstanding structural inequality limits the extent of possible change. Social change requires addressing the root of the problem primarily located in a history of U.S. foreign policies that dehumanize Muslims.

Islamophobia, itself, is far from new. Scholars trace forms of it as far back as the 7th century, with the emergence of Islam as a religion. But the term found new popularity in the late 20th century. Many point to the 1997 report published by the Runnymede Trust in the UK as the first influential use of the word Islamophobia, since it was the first to highlight it as a social problem. But the term did not enter the U.S. lexicon until about a decade after 9/11.

Muslims have long been constructed as threats to U.S. national security, but this intensified after 9/11. Think of the USA PATRIOT Act, Special Registration, U.S.-led wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the Abu Ghraib prison scandal as prime examples of this.

But in the 2010’s, as the nation grappled with a history of racism and inequality, a new rubric of “diversity, equity, and inclusion” created an opening for Muslims to be seen as a beleaguered minority. Muslims became included in conceptions of diversity and social justice through a series of crises, such as the 2010 “ground zero mosque” controversy, the establishment of the Islamophobia Industry, and Donald Trump’s 2015 announcement to ban Muslims from entering the U.S.

These moments led to widespread recognition that Muslims are demonized and targets of individual hate and repressive state policies. This phenomenon is a prime example of crisis diversity—where a precipitating event leads to the recognition of racism or discrimination and an ensuing flurry of concerted action.

Crisis diversity produces a domino effect of responses: The general public becomes aware of a long-standing problem (Islamophobia); people of that particular identity group (Muslims and experts on Islam) are called upon to urgently educate the public and advise leaders on how to make changes; media conglomerates, corporations, universities, and other organizations respond by issuing statements or embarking on new diversity initiatives. The crisis moment then passes, and little attention is paid to the issue until the next crisis emerges, restarting the cycle.

Crisis diversity is not solely a response to Islamophobia. One need only look at how the police killing of George Floyd in the spring of 2020 led to nationwide protests, reigniting public debate about police brutality and putting anti-Black racism firmly on the agenda of the criminal justice system, as well as universities and a wide array of corporations and industries. That same year, the football team the Washington Redskins was finally renamed the Washington Commanders after decades of refusing to change the name, despite protests from American Indian communities. NASCAR finally banned use of the Confederate flag, and Quaker Oats finally retired its brand based on the Aunt Jemima racial stereotype. At the same time, the number of Black people killed by police has not decreased.

In similar, yet distinct ways, Islamophobia is discovered anew each time an instance of it manages to capture public attention. How much social change is accomplished through these crises-responses is varied and debatable.

For Muslims, crisis gave us Mo and Ms. Marvel. It gave us prayer rooms on college campuses. It gave us Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, the first Muslim women in Congress. These progress markers are an important start; however, the crisis-response approach is limiting. While Hollywood sticks it to Trump by finally including Muslims in roles that have nothing to do with terrorism, it does so without acknowledging how the industry itself has demonized Muslims for over a century.

Perpetrators of hate crimes against Muslims are given life sentences, without addressing how the same criminal justice system subjects Muslims to surveillance, deportation, and detention, that fuel hate crime violence. Racial and religious stereotypes are also used to criminalize Muslim men. Prosecutors used Adnan Syed’s identity as Pakistani and Muslim to argue that his religion and culture influenced him to murder his 18-year-old girlfriend, Hae Min Lee, and be prone to violence. In Sept. 2022, after spending over two decades of a life-in-prison sentence for murder, robbery, kidnapping, and false imprisonment, the charges were dropped, and Syed was released.

Crisis diversity focuses our attention on only the most overt, public, and often seemingly sudden expressions of racism, obscuring its longevity and reach well beyond crisis moments. In doing so, it obscures the enduring causes of Islamophobia, rooted in national security policies that demonize Muslims.

Real change requires understanding and approaching the problem as part of longstanding practices that will not evaporate with quick fixes during momentary crises. It requires a paradigm shift in our understanding of the problem and its magnitude. If leaders in Hollywood, corporations, universities, and the government consistently considered the long history of inequality in the U.S. when devising solutions (rather than responding to a momentary crisis), a more just and inclusive future would be possible.

Alsultany is an Associate Professor of American Studies and Ethnicity at USC’s Dornsife College and the author of Broken: The Failed Promise of Muslim Inclusion

Source: Diversity Initiatives Are Failing the U.S. Muslim Community

Australia: ‘Beyond the pale’: PM rocked by new claims

Difference of interpretation or dog whistle?

Scott Morrison has been hit with fresh claims he sought to exploit anti-Muslim sentiment, with two witnesses to a shadow cabinet meeting in 2010 insisting there was a “blow up” with Malcolm Turnbull over the issue.

The Prime Minister has previously confirmed the discussion in an interview with The Project’s Waleed Aly, but insisted he sought to cool voter concerns over Muslim migration, not exploit it.

However, two people who attended the meeting on December 1, 2010 have told news.com.au they did not believe he raised the issue purely to address voter sentiment.

“Malcolm Turnbull genuinely ripped into him. Said it was ‘beyond the pale’,” a Liberal source said.

Another Liberal shadow cabinet member at the time told news.com.au: “He absolutely did talk about the Muslim migration.”

“He flagged it and I remember Phillip Ruddock was very scathing about it,” they said.

Reports of the meeting first emerged in 2011, with claims Mr Morrison urged the shadow cabinet to capitalise on the electorate’s growing concerns about “Muslim immigration”, “Muslims in Australia” and the “inability” of Muslim migrants to integrate.

Then-opposition leader Tony Abbott was not at the meeting, but deputy leader, Julie Bishop, and the former immigration minister, Philip Ruddock, strongly disagreed with the suggestion, pointing out the Coalition had long supported a non-discriminatory immigration policy.

Liberal sources said at the time Mr Morrison told the shadow cabinet meeting on December 1 at the Ryde Civic Centre that the Coalition should ramp up its questioning of “multiculturalism” amid deep voter concerns.

Three years ago, when the claims surfaced again, Prime Minister Scott Morrison described them as “a disgusting lie”.

Mr Morrison abruptly shut down a press conference when he was asked, “Those that did attend the meeting told the Sydney Morning Herald in 2011, quote, that Scott said, ‘What are we going to do about multiculturalism?’”

“I’m going to stop you there. I’ve already addressed this issue today. It is an ugly and repugnant lie,” Mr Morrison said.

“I reject it absolutely 100 per cent and my record of working with the Muslim community in Sydney in particular speaks volumes for my track record. Any suggestion to the contrary, I find utterly offensive. Thank you.”

But just 24 hours later, he confirmed he had raised concerns over the “anti-Muslim” sentiment of voters during a 2010 shadow cabinet meeting, but insisted it was only to “address them, not exploit them”.

Mr Morrison confirmed the discussions with The Project’s Waleed Aly in March 2019.

It was the first time the PM has admitted the discussions on “anti-Muslim” sentiments occurred, after describing claims he had sought to capitalise on the fears as “an ugly and disgusting lie” just 24 hours earlier.

In the interview, Aly asked: “Who is lying? You say that this never happened. You’ve called it a smear and a lie. Who is lying?”

Mr Morrison then blamed two “unnamed sources” in shadow cabinet – Liberal MPs – for twisting the truth of the meeting into “a lie”.

“What is suggested is that I said that we should exploit – exploit – concerns about Islam in the community to our political advantage,” Mr Morrison said.

“Well, I was the shadow immigration minister at the time. And I was very concerned about these issues and the way people were feeling in the community.”

In 2011, Liberal finance spokesman Andrew Robb confirmed that “Scott did talk about the strong feelings in the general community about Muslim immigration and he said that we as a party had to engage with that sentiment”.

“But I’m sure he meant we should engage in a constructive way,” Mr Robb said.

The story first emerged after Mr Morrison questioned the cost of asylum-seeker funerals in 2011. Mr Morrison later apologised for the “timing” of his comments, saying it was “inappropriate” and “insensitive”.

When Aly asked the Prime Minister about Mr Robb’s on-the-record confirmation that he had discussed anti-Muslim sentiment, Mr Morrison confirmed he had discussed it in the meeting.

“I was concerned that we needed to address them. Which is what I have been doing inside and outside of the Parliament for the last 10 years of my life,’’ he said.

“Yes – to lower them. I was acknowledging that there were these fears in the community and we had to address them, not exploit them.”

“I want to rule a line under this issue. It never happened. I have always been deeply concerned about attitudes towards people of Muslim faith in our community.”

Mr Morrison ended the interview with a plea for voters to respect his sincerity on fostering good relationships with the Muslim community.

“Don’t pre-judge me. I know what my values are,” he said.

Source: ‘Beyond the pale’: PM rocked by new claims

How ‘Multiculturalism’ Became a Bad Word in South Korea

Highlights some of the challenges to previously insular societies:

Inside the dimly lit house, young Muslim men knelt and prayed in silence. Outside, their Korean neighbors gathered with angry signs to protest “a den of terrorists” moving into their neighborhood.

In a densely populated but otherwise quiet district in Daegu, a city in southeastern South Korea, a highly emotional standoff is underway.

Roughly 150 Muslims, mostly students ​at the nearby Kyungpook National University, started building a mosque in a lot next door to their temporary house of worship about a year ago. When their Korean neighbors found out, they were furious.

The mosque would turn the neighborhood of Daehyeon-dong into “​an enclave of Muslims and a ​crime-infested ​slum,” the Korean neighbors wrote on signs and protest banners. It would bring more “noise” and a “food smell​” from an unfamiliar culture, driving out the Korean residents.

The Muslim students and their Korean supporters fought back, arguing that they had the right to live and pray in peace in Daegu, one of the most politically conservative cities in South Korea. “There is a difference between protest and harassment,” said Muaz Razaq, 25, a Ph.D. student in computer science who is from Pakistan. “What they were doing was harassment.”

The fault line between the two communities here has exposed an uncomfortable truth in South Korea. At a time when the country enjoys more global influence than ever — with consumers around the world eager to dance to its music, drive its cars and buy its smartphones — it is also grappling with a fierce wave of anti-immigrant fervor and Islamophobia. While it has successfully exported its culture abroad, it has been slow to welcome other cultures at home.

The mosque dispute has become a flash point, part of a larger phenomenon in which South Koreans have had to confront what it means to live in an increasingly diverse society. Muslims have often borne the brunt of racist misgivings, particularly after the Taliban executed two South Korean missionaries in 2007.

The arrival of 500 Yemeni asylum seekers on the island of Jeju in 2018 triggered South Korea’s first series of organized anti-immigrant protests. The government responded to fears that the asylum seekers were harboring terrorists by banning them from leaving the island.

“Their rules on the hijab alone are enough reason that they should never set foot in our country,” said Lee Hyung-oh, the leader of Refugee Out, a​ nationwide anti-immigration network that opposes the mosque in Daegu.

Many Koreans explain their attitude toward foreigners by citing history: their small nation has survived invasions and occupations for centuries, maintaining its territory, language and ethnic identity. Those who oppose the mosque and immigration more broadly have often warned that an influx of foreigners would threaten South Korea’s “pure blood” and “ethnic homogeneity.”

“We may look exclusionist, but it has made us what we are, consolidating us as a nation to survive war, colonial rule and financial crises and achieve economic development while speaking the same language, thinking the same thoughts,” Mr. Lee said. “I don’t think we could have done this with diversity,” he added. “We are not xenophobic. We just don’t want to mix with others.”

Some say the country does not have much of a choice.

South Korea’s rise as a cultural powerhouse has coincided with a demographic crisis. Years of low birthrates and rising incomes in urban areas have led to shortages of women who want to marry and live in rural towns. Farms and factories have found it difficult to fill low-wage jobs. Universities lack local students.

To help alleviate the challenges, South Korea opened its doors to workers and students from other nations. Some rural men began to marry foreign women, especially from Vietnam. Yet when the government introduced policies to support “multicultural families,” there was a backlash. Suddenly, words like “multiculturalism” and “diversity” became pejorative terms for many South Koreans.

And the antipathy has not been limited to Muslim students in Daegu, a city of more than two million people.

Last year, an anti-China uproar forced a local developer to cancel its plan to build a Chinese cultural center west of Seoul. In Ansan, south of Seoul, all but six of the 450 students in Wongok Elementary School are immigrants’ children because Korean parents have refused to send their children there. In 2020, a Ghanaian entertainer sparked a backlash when he criticized a blackface performance by high school students. He eventually apologized.

“Koreans have deep-rooted xenophobic beliefs that foreigners are inferior,” said Yi Sohoon, a professor of sociology at Kyungpook National University who supports the mosque. “But they value foreigners differently according to their origin. They treat Black people from the United States or Europe differently from Black people from Africa.”

Runaway housing prices, a lack of social mobility and a widening income gap have contributed to the tensions. In a recent Facebook post, Yoon Suk-yeol, a leading conservative candidate in the March 9 presidential election, vowed to stop immigrants from getting “a free ride” with national health care. Lee Jae-myung, his more left-leaning rival, accused Mr. Yoon of fanning “xenophobic right-wing populism.”

The number of foreign residents in South Korea grew to 1.7 million, or 3.3 percent of the total population, in 2020, from 1.4 million in 2017. The government has predicted that the number will grow to 2.3 million by 2040. The overall population fell for the first time on record in 2021, increasing the need for foreign workers and students.

“Human beings are naturally biased, but don’t let the bias lead you to depriving other people of their fundamental human rights,” said Ashraf Akintola, a Ph.D. student in biomedical engineering from Nigeria and one of the Muslim worshipers in Daegu. Mr. Akintola said he felt sad when a Korean protester followed him last year shouting, “Leave our country!” Back in Nigeria, he said, K-pop was so popular that his friends learned to speak Korean.

The Muslim students had prayed at an ordinary house in Daehyeon-dong for seven years. In late 2020, after tearing the house down, they began building a mosque, using a building next door as a temporary house of worship during construction. That’s when Korean residents and activists joined forces to make the neighborhood the center of an anti-immigrant campaign.

In January, the neighbors hung a large black-and-white banner across from the proposed mosque site: “Korean people come first!”

“We are not against their religion,” said Kim Jeong-suk, a 67-year-old Korean resident who opposes the mosque. “We just can’t have a new religious facility in our crowded neighborhood, whether it’s Islamic, Buddhist or Christian.” The neighborhood already has 15 Christian churches, including one roughly 30 yards from where the mosque would be.

Many of the offensive signs were removed after the government’s National Human Rights Commission intervened last October. Construction remains suspended as both sides take their case to court, but human rights lawyers say discrimination against immigrants can also be found in South Korean law.

“It’s one thing that Koreans want to be recognized globally, get rich and successful abroad,” said Hwang Pil-gyu, a human rights attorney who tracks abuses against immigrants. “It’s quite another whether they are willing to embrace foreigners.”

An anti-discrimination bill has stalled in Parliament for years amid opposition from a powerful Christian lobby. Under current policy, undocumented people are not afforded the same rights as those who are in South Korea legally, and foreigners detained under immigration laws are not entitled to habeas corpus.

Last year, disturbing closed-circuit TV footage from a detention center for undocumented immigrants showed a Moroccan man hogtied in solitary confinement. The Justice Ministry admitted to human rights abuses and promised reform.

Still, accepting Muslim refugees has become so unpopular that when the government gave asylum to 390 Afghans last year, it refused to call them refugees. Instead it called them “special contributors,” signaling that the country would only welcome those who contributed to national interests.

“Globalization has a positive connotation among South Koreans,” said Ms. Yi, the professor. “But they need to realize that it involves an exchange of not just money and goods, but culture, religion and people.” Ms. Yi was among the liberal politicians, professors and activists who staged rallies supporting the mosque.

Residents, however, appear to be united in their opposition. More than 175,000 people signed a petition addressed to Moon Jae-in, the president of South Korea, warning that “If we lose Daehyeon-dong, we will lose Daegu.”

“I had never seen people like them before, and I saw no women, only men, swarming in there,” said Park Jeong-suk, a 60-year-old resident who lives next door to the proposed mosque site.

Ms. Park’s neighbor, Namgung Myeon, 59, said he opposed an influx of foreigners as South Korea’s own population declined. “It will unsettle our national foundation,” he said, “enervating our national character and values.”

Source: How ‘Multiculturalism’ Became a Bad Word in South Korea

The Quiet Flight of Muslims From France

Of interest. Haven’t found any comparable data for Canada but will check the 2021 census data when it comes out (which will have religious affiliation data):

France’s wounded psyche is the invisible character in every one of Sabri Louatah’s novels and the hit television series he wrote. He speaks of his “sensual, physical, visceral love” for the French language and of his attachment to his hometown in southeastern France, bathed in its distinctive light. He closely monitors the campaign for the upcoming presidential elections.

But Mr. Louatah does all of that from Philadelphia, the city that he began considering home after the 2015 attacks in France by Islamist extremists, which killed scores of people and deeply traumatized the country. As sentiments hardened against all French Muslims, he no longer felt safe there. One day, he was spat on and called, “Dirty Arab.”

“It’s really the 2015 attacks that made me leave because I understood they were not going to forgive us,” said Mr. Louatah, 38, the grandson of Muslim immigrants from Algeria. “When you live in a big Democratic city on the East Coast, you’re more at peace than in Paris, where you’re deep in the cauldron.”

Ahead of elections in April, President Emmanuel Macron’s top three rivals — who are expected to account for nearly 50 percent of the vote, according to polls — are all running anti-immigrant campaigns that fan fears of a nation facing a civilizational threat by invading non-Europeans. The issue is top of their agenda, even though France’s actual immigration lags behind that of most other European countries.

The problem barely discussed is emigration. For years, France has lost highly educated professionals seeking greater dynamism and opportunity elsewhere. But among them, according to academic researchers, is a growing number of French Muslims who say that discrimination was a strong push factor and that they felt compelled to leave by a glass ceiling of prejudice, nagging questions about their security and a feeling of not belonging.

The outflow has gone unremarked upon by politicians and the news media even as researchers say it shows France’s failure to provide a path for advancement for even the most successful of its largest minority group, a “brain drain” of those who could have served as models of integration.

“These people end up contributing to the economy of Canada or Britain,” said Olivier Esteves, a professor at the University of Lille’s center on political science, public law and sociology, which surveyed 900 French Muslim émigrés and conducted in-depth interviews with 130 of them. “France is really shooting itself in the foot.”

French Muslims, estimated at 10 percent of the population, occupy a strangely outsize place in the campaign — even if their actual voices are seldom heard. It is not only an indication of the lingering wounds inflicted by the attacks of 2015 and 2016, which killed hundreds, but also of France’s long struggle over identity issues and its unresolved relationship with its former colonies.

Source: The Quiet Flight of Muslims From France

Ghayyur: Canada’s realpolitik ignores the plight of Muslims in India

Of note:

Human Rights Watch’s 2022 World Report argued that while there is still hope for the world’s democracies, there remain plenty of threats in the distance. In particular, the report noted that a number of governments around the world are committing atrocities while enjoying the reputational benefits of being a democratic country.

India, the world’s most populous democracy and one that was founded on a secular constitutional order, has become one of the worst offenders among them.

After a 2014 electoral victory for his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) – a political wing of the Hindu-nationalist paramilitary group Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) – Prime Minister Narendra Modi has propelled Hindu nationalism, or Hindutva, into the Indian mainstream. Over the past eight years, the BJP government has adopted policies that discriminate against minority groups, and there has been a surge in violence against those who are not members of the country’s Hindu majority, including attacks on Christian churches and Sikh farmers and abuse of Dalits – all while the government has largely stood idly by.

Muslims have been particularly targeted. In 2019, the Modi government enacted the Citizenship Amendment Act, which allows religious-minority refugees to become citizens unless they are Muslim; it also created a national register of citizens, which threatens to disenfranchise Muslim immigrants or deport others without documentation. High-ranking party officials have vilified Muslims in public remarks. Incidents of mob vigilantism in defence of cows, which are sacred to Hindus, have increased in recent years, with most cases leaving Muslim victims. And in December, a video recording from a conference in northern Indiaattended by party members and religious leaders with ties to the BJP showed militant Hindutva extremists calling for an armed “cleansing” of the country’s more than 200 million Muslims. Mr. Modi has not denounced this incitement of hate and vilification of minority groups, which will only further embolden Hindutva extremists. “We should be crying genocide emergency for India,” declared Dr. Greg Stanton,president of Genocide Watch, a leading human rights watchdog group, at a recent leadership briefing on India.

Even documenting such human rights abuses in Mr. Modi’s India has become dangerous. The BJP and RSS have cracked down on human and civil rights organizations and media in the country. Amnesty International India was forced to shut down its operations in September, 2020, and last year Reporters Without Borders ranked India 142nd on its World Press Freedom Index, which deemed the Indian press less free than Myanmar’s or Uganda’s.

And yet, despite these documented horrific human-rights violations, Canada-India relations continue to improve. Even as India becomes hijacked by an ideology of hatred that aspires to transform the country into an entirely Hindu one, the increasingly authoritarian Modi government continues to hide behind facades of pluralism, democracy and the legacy of Mahatma Gandhi’s non-violence. And Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has chosen realpolitik above holding the Modi administration accountable for human rights violations in the name of Canada’s economic and security interests.

With Canada’s ties to China deteriorating, the Trudeau government has been looking for partners to help it oppose China’s aggressive international stance. As a result, India is attempting to boost bilateral relations. Canada’s International Trade Minister Mary Ng’s recent meeting with her Indian counterpart, Piyush Goyal, “welcomed a re-engagement on negotiations toward a Canada-India comprehensive economic partnership agreement.”

Although India claims to share Canadian values and interests, its normalizing of Islamophobia and human-rights atrocities demonstrates that this is not the case. Canada must declare human rights a priority and a requirement for any economic or security deals with India.

In the 2022 Human Rights Watch report, executive director Kenneth Roth wonders: Will democratic leaders “act consistently, both at home and abroad, with the democratic and human rights principles they claim to defend?”

This is a question Canadians should ask Mr. Trudeau. Protecting human rights across the world must be a top priority for Canada in 2022. It is past time that Ottawa categorically oppose violence against Muslims and attacks on the religious freedoms of Christian, Dalit, Sikh and Indigenous Adivasi in India. Otherwise, by calling Mr. Modi a friend, Canada makes itself complicit on the international stage.

Source: Canada’s realpolitik ignores the plight of Muslims in India

As Officials Look Away, Hate Speech in India Nears Dangerous Levels

Of note:

The police officer arrived at the Hindu temple here with a warning to the monks: Don’t repeat your hate speech.

Ten days earlier, before a packed audience and thousands watching online, the monks had called for violence against the country’s minority Muslims. Their speeches, in one of India’s holiest cities, promoted a genocidal campaign to “kill two million of them” and urged an ethnic cleansing of the kind that targeted Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar.

When videos of the event provoked national outrage, the police came. The saffron-clad preachers questioned whether the officer could be objective.

Yati Narsinghanand, the event’s firebrand organizer known for his violent rhetoric, assuaged their concerns.

“Biased?” Mr. Narsinghanand said, according to a video of the interaction. “He will be on our side,” he added, as the monks and the officer broke into laughter.

Once considered fringe, extremist elements are increasingly taking their militant message into the mainstream, stirring up communal hate in a push to reshape India’s constitutionally protected secular republic into a Hindu state. Activists and analysts say their agenda is being enabled, even normalized, by political leaders and law enforcement officials who offer tacit endorsements by not directly addressing such divisive issues.

After the monks’ call to arms went viral, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his top leaders remained silent, except for a vice president with a largely ceremonial role who warned that “inciting people against each other is a crime against the nation” without making a specific reference to Haridwar. Junior members of Mr. Modi’s party attended the event, and the monks have often posted pictures with senior leaders.

“You have persons giving hate speech, actually calling for genocide of an entire group, and we find reluctance of the authorities to book these people,” Rohinton Fali Nariman, a recently retired Indian Supreme Court judge, said in a public lecture. “Unfortunately, the other higher echelons of the ruling party are not only being silent on hate speech, but almost endorsing it.”

Mr. Narsinghanand was later arrested after he ignored the police warning and repeated calls for violence. His lawyer, Uttam Singh Chauhan, said his speeches may have been a reaction to anti-Hindu comments by Muslim clerics.

Mr. Modi’s governing Bharatiya Janata Party did not respond to requests for comment.

“Does the prime minister or home minister need to address every small, trivial issue?” said Vinod Bansal, a spokesman for the World Hindu Council, a party affiliate. “The accused have already been arrested. The secular groups will always highlight such incidents, but not when Hindus, Hindu gods and goddesses are under attack.”

The hate speech is stoking communal tensions in a country where small triggers have incited mass-death tragedies. The monks’ agenda already resonates with increasingly emboldened vigilante groups.

Vigilantes have beaten people accused of disrespecting cows, considered holy by some Hindus; dragged couples out of trains, cafes and homes on suspicion that Hindu women might be seduced by Muslim men; and barged into religious gatherings where they suspect people are being converted.

In recent weeks, global human rights organizations and local activists, as well as India’s retired security chiefs, have warned that the violent rhetoric has reached a dangerous new pitch. With right-wing messages spreading rapidly through social media and the government hesitant to take action, they are concerned that a singular event — a local dispute, or an attack by international terror groups such as Al Qaeda or the Islamic State — could lead to widespread violence that would be difficult to contain.

Gregory Stanton, the founder of Genocide Watch, a nonprofit group, who raised similar warnings ahead of the massacres in Rwanda in the 1990s, told a U.S. congressional briefing that the demonizing and discriminatory “processes” that lead to genocide have been well underway in India.

In an interview, he said Myanmar was an example of how the easy dissemination of misinformation and hate speech on social media prepares the ground for violence. The difference in India, he said, is that it would be the mobs taking action instead of the military.

“You have to stop it now,” he said, “because once the mobs take over it could really turn deadly.”

The Dasna Devi temple in Uttar Pradesh state, where Mr. Narsinghanand is the chief priest, is peppered with signs that call to prepare for a “dharm yudh,” or religious war. One calls on “Hindus, my lions” to value their weapons “just the way dedicated wives value their husbands.”

The temple’s main sign prohibits Muslims from entering.

The monks’ anger is rooted in a sense of internalized victimhood that dates to the founding of India’s republic after independence from British rule in 1947. When Pakistan was carved out of India in a bloody partition that left hundreds of thousands dead, the Hindu right was incensed that the founding fathers turned what remained of India into a secular republic.

They celebrate a Hindu hard-liner’s assassination of Mohandas Gandhi — a renowned symbol of nonviolent struggle, but to them a Muslim appeaser. Pooja Shakun Pandey, a monk at the Haridwar event, has held re-enactments of Gandhi’s assassination, firing a bullet into his effigy as blood runs down.

The forces that shaped the ideology of Gandhi’s assassin, Nathuram Godse, have slowly risen from the fringes to dominate India’s politics.

Mr. Modi, the prime minister, spent decades as a mobilizer for the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the century-old right-wing organization to which Mr. Godse belonged. Mr. Modi’s party sees the group as the fountainhead of its political ideology and has relied heavily on its vast network of volunteers to mobilize voters and secure victories.

When he was chief minister of Gujarat, Mr. Modi saw firsthand how unchecked communal tensions could turn into bloodletting.

In 2002, a train fire killed 59 Hindu pilgrims. Although the cause was disputed, violent mobs, in response, targeted the Muslim community, leaving more than 1,000 people dead, many burned alive.

Rights organizations and opposition leaders accused Mr. Modi of looking the other way. He rejected the allegations as political attacks.

After he rose to the country’s highest office in 2014 on a message of economic growth, there was hope that Mr. Modi could rein in the fury. Instead, he has often reverted to a Hindu-first agenda that inflames communal divides.

In 2017, Mr. Modi picked Yogi Adityanath, a monk who had started a youth group accused of vigilante violence, to lead Uttar Pradesh, India’s largest state with more than 200 million people.

In his saffron robe, Mr. Adityanath has legislated a ban on religious conversion by marriage, an idea that he calls “love jihad,” in which Muslim men lure Hindu women to convert them. His group has served as moral police, hounding interfaith couples and punishing anyone suspected of disrespecting cows.

As Mr. Adityanath campaigned for re-election, the group held a meeting in New Delhi around the same time as the monks’ event. With a picture of Mr. Adityanath behind them, attendees took an oath to turn India into a Hindu state, even if it meant killing for it.

Mr. Adityanath’s office would not address his current relations with the group, but said the chief minister “had nothing to do” with the meeting.

Dhirendra K. Jha, a writer who has studied the rise of Hindu nationalism, said he worried that extremists now dominate India’s politics in such a way that those who call for violence feel protected.

“Unless this is dealt with, the kind of consequences that may happen — I can’t even imagine, I don’t dare to imagine,” said Mr. Jha.

The choice of Haridwar as the venue for a bold call to violence was strategic — the city attracts millions of visitors annually, often for religious festivals and pilgrimages.

The riverbank was recently busy with seers and worshipers. Families picnicked and took dips in the chilly water. Even as some religious authorities appeared troubled by the calls for violence, they were reluctant to condemn them.

Pradeep Jha, the main organizer of the city’s largest pilgrimage festival, said he shared the vision of a Hindu state, not through violence but by urging India’s Muslims to convert back; in such a view, everyone in India was Hindu at one point.

“I believe we need to pursue our goals with patience, with peace,” he said. “Otherwise, what is our difference with others?”

Mr. Narsinghanand has made a name for himself doing the exact opposite.

As he sees it, India’s Muslims — who account for 15 percent of the population — will turn the country into a Muslim state within a decade. To prevent such an outcome, he has told followers that they must “be willing to die,” pointing to the Taliban and Islamic State as a “role model.

In 2020, Mr. Narsinghanand was among the hard-liners stoking tensions during monthslong protests over a citizenship amendment seen as discriminatory toward Muslims. He called for violence, using the language of a “final battle.” “They are jihadis, and we will have to finish them off,” he said.

Riots followed in New Delhi, with 50 people killed, a majority of them Muslims.

Mr. Narsinghanand was always observant, but not an extremist, according to his 82-year-old father, Rajeshwar Dayal Tyagi.

He was a top college student, earning a scholarship to study food technology in Moscow. There, he helped open a vegetarian restaurant for Indian students that still operates.

Returning to India in 1996, he started a computer training institute with money from Mr. Tyagi’s pension. He soon dedicated his life to being a monk, leaving behind his wife and young daughter, said his father.

“I feel pained, I feel angry, it gives me stress,” his father said. “It’s not a good idea to use harsh words against anybody.”

Despite the police warning, Mr. Narsinghanand and his fellow monks repeated their messages of hate, including on national television and social media.

“This Constitution will be the end of the Hindus, all one billion Hindus,” Mr. Narsinghanand said at a virtual event. “Whoever believes in this system, in this Supreme Court, in these politicians, in this Constitution, in this army and police — they will die a dog’s death.”

When the police came to arrest an associate, he threatened the officers, who politely urged him to calm down. “You will all die,” Mr. Narsinghanand is seen in a video telling them.

The police arrested Mr. Narsinghanand on Jan. 15, and he was charged in court with hate speech.

“He said nothing wrong,” said Swami Amritanand, an organizer of the Haridwar event. “We are doing what America is doing, we are doing what Britain is doing.”

Mr. Amritanand said the call for arms was justified because “within the next 10 to 12 years there will be a horrible war that will play out in India.”

Late last month, the monks again sounded a violent call to create a Hindu state, this time at an event hundreds of miles away from Haridwar in Uttar Pradesh. They threatened violence — referencing a bombing of India’s assembly — if Mr. Narsinghanand was not released.

Ms. Pandey described their actions as defensive. “We must prepare to protect ourselves,” she said.

To the Haridwar police, the event in Uttar Pradesh did not count as a repeat offense. Rakendra Singh Kathait, the senior police officer in Haridwar, said Mr. Narsinghanand was in jail because he had acted again in the city; others like Ms. Pandey got a warning.

“If she goes and says it from Kolkata, it doesn’t count as repeat here,” Mr. Kathait said.

Source: As Officials Look Away, Hate Speech in India Nears Dangerous Levels

Muslim issues not adequately addressed in party platforms, argues advocacy group campaigning for dedicated federal anti-Islamophobia office

New advocacy group but not any new issues:

A new advocacy organization is arguing the federal parties aren’t making sufficient promises related to combating hate crimes against Muslims, and is campaigning for whichever party wins the election to develop an office for combating Islamophobia.

“We don’t think Islamophobia or issues related to Canadian Muslims are being adequately addressed in party platforms. We would have liked to see more concrete commitments, and we don’t see that,” said Sarah Mushtaq, a spokesperson for the Canadian Muslim Public Affairs Council (CMPAC). “We’ve seen the rise of anti-Semitism, of anti-Asian hate crimes, and then specifically Islamophobia. The idea of having this federal office with resources and funding would be [to look] at these issues in a way where we can actually address them from a systemic perspective.”

The CMPAC, a lobby organization dedicated to advancing the interests of Canada’s Muslim population, launched on Sept. 10. Advocacy priorities for the organization include urging the federal government to implement a strategy to address online hate, and to create a federal office that would develop and implement an anti-Islamophobia strategy. The CMPAC is looking for a commitment of $5 million towards a federal anti-Islamophobia office, according to Ms. Mushtaq.

Police-reported hate crimes in Canada reached 2,669 incidents in 2020, representing a 37 per cent increase compared to the 1,951 police-reported hate crimes in 2019, according to Statistics Canada. About 46 per cent of Canadians have an unfavorable view of Islam—more than for any other religious tradition—according to a report on Islamophobia in Canada submitted to the UN Special Rapporteur in Freedom of Religion or Belief on Nov. 30, 2020. The report was submitted by the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group, the Islamic Social Services Association, and the Noor Cultural Centre.

“We believe that having an office to address Islamophobia could help address these issues in a more fulsome, systemic way, and address hate crimes across the country instead of just kind of letting communities individually deal with them,” said Ms. Mushtaq. “Having this national framework to address hate crimes would be really helpful to ensure that no community is left behind.”

As part of the launch, the CMPAC released a comparison of the various federal parties’ platforms in the 2021 election, which highlighted the strengths and weaknesses of each party when it comes to addressing issues such as Islamophobia, systemic racism and immigration.

The Liberal Party platform failed to address specific asks of the Muslim community based on the input gathered during the National Action Summit on Islamophobia, according to the CMPAC platform comparison. The summit, held virtually on July 22, provided a platform for Muslim communities to discuss ways to combat Islamophobia in Canada. The Liberal platform has not included any proposal to help prevent Muslim charities from being targeted by audits from the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), which was the “number one” issue raised at the summit, according to the CMPAC. Muslim-led charities are “exceptionally vulnerable to audits” and to the revocation of their charitable status, according to a report released on March 29 by the National Council of Canadian Muslims and the Institute of Islamic Studies at the University of Toronto.

On Aug. 5, Minister of National Revenue Diane LeBoutillier announced that Taxpayers’ Ombudsperson François Boileau will investigate the concerns of Muslim charities in their experiences with the CRA. An update on Boileau’s examination is expected to be provided to the National Revenue minister on Jan. 1, 2022, according to an Aug. 5 press release.

“Together with my office, I commit to examining the concerns raised and will engage charitable organizations led by racialized communities to ensure that the service rights we so strongly represent, are upheld by the CRA. But before we take action, we need to take the time to listen and deepen our knowledge of the issues,” said Mr. Boileau in the press release.

The CMPAC said on its website that Boileau’s review is “non-binding and limited in scope,” and criticized the Liberal government for not proposing any reforms in its platform to address the issues facing Muslim-led charities.

As examples of how the Liberals are addressing Islamophobia in their election platform, the CMPAC lists the party’s plan to present a national action plan for combating hate by 2022 as part of an anti-racism strategy, and a proposal to increase investments in the Canada Centre for Community Engagement and Prevention of Violence to combat hate crime.

The CMPAC argues that the NDP platform makes numerous mention of Islamophobia in addressing hate speech and crimes, but, similar to the Liberals, has not included a commitment to address CRA audits of Muslim-led charities.

Regarding the Conservatives, the CMPAC comparison document argues the party’s platform makes no direct mention of Islamophobia. Steps proposed by the Conservatives that could relate to combating Islamophobia includes a plan to fight online incitement and hatred by criminalizing statements that encourage violence.

Ms. Mushtaq said that the CMPAC plans to register on the federal lobbyists’ registry following the federal election on Sept. 20.

Other organizations currently active on the federal lobbyists’ registry related to advocacy for Muslims includes the Muslim Association of Canada and the National Council of Canadian Muslims.

“The Muslim community is not monolithic. It’s a large community and there’s room, as the community continues to grow, for multiple organizations serving the interest of the community together,” said Ms. Mushtaq. “We definitely want to work together. There might be some things that one organization works on, but there’s definitely going to be a lot of work together behind the scenes, as well.”

Islamophobia was the subject of headlines during the 2021 election, when Lisa Robinson, the Conservative candidate in the Toronto riding of Beaches–East York, was dismissed from the party on Sept. 10 for allegedly posting anti-Islamic statements on social media years prior.

Liberal candidate Nathaniel Erskine-Smith posted a tweet on Sept. 10 containing screenshots from a Twitter account called “Ward 1 city councillor candidate,” which contained derogatory comments towards Muslims living in Canada. In his Twitter post, Mr. Erskine-Smith said that “’Ward 1 city councillor candidate’ is none other than Lisa Robinson.”

Ms. Robinson told The Canadian press she is still running as a “confirmed Conservative” candidate despite being officially dropped by the Party. She claims that she never wrote the online posts that led to her dismissal from the Conservatives. In a Twitter post response to Mr. Erskine-Smith, Ms. Robinson said that the Ward 1 city councillor candidate account was fake, and she had reported it to Durham Regional Police in 2018. She also said in her Twitter post that sharing “false information is defamatory” and that Erskine-Smith would receive a libel notice soon.

“They posted a fake picture, claimed that it must be true, and asked me—the victim, to provide proof that it is fake,” said Ms. Robinson in a statement on her campaign website. “If this can be done to me, then it can be done to anyone. Would you want your children subjected to this kind of abuse? If an elected official can spread false information and blame the victim candidate, what else can they be capable of?”

In an emailed statement to The Hill Times, Mr. Erskine-Smith said he would be “open to correcting the record if there is credible information.”

“When I initially saw Lisa’s claim that the account is fake, I privately messaged her and asked her if she had flagged it for Twitter. She said she’d never done so because of a lack of computer literacy, but that she eventually had it removed with the help of a friend. When I asked specifically how that had happened, she stopped responding to me,” said Mr. Erskine-Smith in the email. “I’ve now seen past posts of hers in which she has apologized for remarks, and also in which she has claimed she was hacked. None of it adds up.”

Source: Muslim issues not adequately addressed in party platforms, argues advocacy group campaigning for dedicated federal anti-Islamophobia office

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