FATAH: Islamist groups eligible for share of $23M in federal funding? | Toronto Sun Corrrection

An example of fake news, where the original headline was “Islamic Relief and Other Groups to Receive $23M”, and the Sun was obliged to issue the following correction, not been picked up by the media and bloggers recirculating the story.

“Clarification

Tarek Fatah in a July 3, 2018 column incorrectly stated the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) is receiving funding from a federal multicultural program. Liberal MP Iqra Khalid suggested organizations such as NCCM would receive funding in a video referenced by Fatah however NCCM has not applied for funding.  The Toronto Sun regrets the error”

Slightly reworded article to reflect the correction:

On the afternoon of June 27 while most of Canada was at work or watching the World Cup matches, a major funding announcement was made with little fanfare and in front of no more than a couple of dozen, mostly Muslim audience of Pakistani Canadians.

Mississauga-Erindale MP Iqra Khalid who has been the mouthpiece of the divisive Motion M103 on ‘Islamophobia’ stood in her constituency office to announce that the Trudeau government was investing an additional $23 Million into its multiculturalism program.

With no mainstream media in attendance to ask any questions, Khalid boasted that her “hard work has resulted into tangible action.” She listed the following two groups as being potential recipients of the new funding:

The National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM), a former branch of the U.S. based Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) that was named in 2008 as an unindicted co-conspirator connected to the “largest terror-funding trial in U.S. history. NCCM has denied links to CAIR.

Islamic Relief, a worldwide charity accused of links to Islamist extremism by Middle East Forum, Israel and the United Arab Emirates among others.

There is no solid record that the Canadian arms of these two organizations have contributed to current problematic behaviour.  Nonetheless, for over a year many Muslim Canadians, including yours truly, my Sun colleague Farzana Hassan as well as other Muslim critics of Islamism had warned that the M103 initiative was much more than the victimhood culture of guilt being forced onto ordinary Canadians.

Khalid, in explaining during a press conference to announce the funding, suggested the $23 million is intended to “build bridges” between Canadians and to give new Canadians a “foundation” in this country by supporting community groups.

“NCCM that does a lot of data collecting on hate crimes and really pushing that advocacy needle forward within our country,” Khalid said. “Or like Islamic Relief, that does work not only within Canada, across Canada, across the world in really removing those stereotypes.”

So on Wednesday, we saw our fears come true. While Islamists are eligible to receive funds to conduct their Sharia agenda in Canada, Muslim critics of jihad, polygamy, FGM and Sharia have been left on their own to fight global Islamofascism.

In a message to MP Khalid, I asked her to clarify if any part of the $23M will be used to counter the daily denigration of Christians and Jews that takes place in mosques across Canada, from dawn to dusk.

I reminded her that “most Friday sermons at mosque congregations end with a call to Allah to grant Muslims victory over non-Muslims, referred to as ‘Qawm al Kafiroon’.”

“Will the $23M be used to de-radicalize mosque clerics and educate them to end hateful sermons from the pulpits,” I asked.

Despite reaching out to her office twice, I did not get a response, nor any press release or statement issued by any ministry of the Trudeau cabinet.

In making the announcement, the Pakistan-born Liberal MP told her scant audience, her M103 initiative was about “systemic racism and religious discrimination” and that “my goal was to study it and understand why does it happen and to find solutions.”

Most Canadians would have told her, ‘physician, heal thyself,’ but of course, ordinary Canadians are too scared to be labelled as ‘racist’ by privileged Islamists riding the waves of victimhood.

In recommending Islamic Relief as one of the recipients of the $23 million fund, Khalid covered up the fact that even Bangladesh, a Muslim-majority country has banned Islamic Relief from providing either relief or aid to some 500,000 Rohingya refugees who have taken refuge in the country.

Khalid also shrugged off allegations that Islamic Relief has long been accused of funding terror. The United Arab Emirates has designated Islamic Relief as a terror-financing organization while in Russian authorities have accused Islamic Relief of supporting terrorism in Chechnya.

My question to ordinary Canadians is this: Who will stand up to the Islamist agenda in our country if it’s the government itself that funds their agenda?

Clarification

Tarek Fatah in a July 3, 2018 column incorrectly stated the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) is receiving funding from a federal multicultural program. Liberal MP Iqra Khalid suggested organizations such as NCCM would receive funding in a video referenced by Fatah however NCCM has not applied for funding.  The Toronto Sun regrets the error

via FATAH: Islamist groups eligible for share of $23M in federal funding? | Toronto Sun

No, CSIS does not ‘target’ Muslims with no accountability (Gurski) and the piece that prompted it (Gardee)

Phil Gurski on Ihsaan Gardee’s earlier column (reprinted below):

There are times when you read something that makes your blood boil and demands a response. One such time occurred to me last week within the pages of The Hill Times in an op-ed by Ihsaan Gardee, executive director of the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM). Entitled “Government must rebuild trust with Canadian Muslims on national security“, this op-ed piece is full of language like “over-reaching and draconian,” “smearing Muslims,” “Islamophobia,” “systemic bias and discrimination,” and “little or no accountability,” all directed at CSIS and other agencies involved in national security.

Gardee paints a picture of CSIS that seems to have it in for Canada’s Muslims and which has undermined attempts by those communities to “establish robust partnerships.” He appears convinced that CSIS is an organization run rogue that has “protracted problems” which leads to the “stigmatization” of those among us who are Muslim.

As a former analyst at CSIS who not only worked on Islamist extremism for 15 years, but who has written four books on the topic—and met with Muslims all across the country to discuss the issues of radicalization and terrorism—I think I am in a better position than him to draw a better picture. And no, for the record, I am not a ‘shill’ for CSIS and more than happy to point to the bad as well as the good within the agency.

So to the first accusation levelled by Gardee: does Islamophobia exist within CSIS? Absolutely—I saw it first-hand and challenged it when I saw it, although it is not as pervasive as he thinks it is. And, yes, the lawsuit containing allegations about Islamophobia among other shortcomings that was settled by five former employees was based on facts, as I outlined quite clearly in a previous Hill Times column. Aside from that, however, everything else Gardee alleges as endemic within CSIS—I cannot speak for another agency such as CBSA as I never worked there and would never purport to know what goes on within its walls—is false. As CSIS won’t publicly address these fabrications, I will, if for no other reason than I toiled tirelessly for a decade and a half to do my small part in keeping Canadians safe from terrorism and don’t want my time construed as wasted in a racist environment.

But if you look at the terrorist/violent extremist environment in Canada since 9/11, which seems to be the timeframe Gardee sees when everything went to hell for Muslim Canadians, the vast majority of attacks have been perpetrated by Islamist extremists. And that does not even take into account the Islamic State ‘foreign fighter’ phenomenon that led to the deaths of countless thousands in Iraq and Syria. Does this perhaps explain why CSIS and its partners have focused on the Muslim community in that time, given that these perpetrators come from that community?

What Gardee appears to fail to understand is that CSIS is an intelligence agency that is driven by intelligence. Intelligence tells it where to put its resources; that and government requirements. If the threat is emanating primarily from a small number of Canadians who happen to be Muslim then that is exactly where you would want our protectors to look, not elsewhere.

I am not saying that CSIS or its employees are perfect. No, they are not as they are human. In addition, there is always room for improvement, and that includes its relations with communities across Canada, Muslims among them. Since 9/11, however, CSIS has done its part with its partners to prevent deaths. I would think that Gardee would at least acknowledge that much.

I thus reject Gardee’s accusations. He owes CSIS an apology for his ill-considered words. Phil Gurski is a former strategic analyst with CSIS, an author and the Director of Intelligence and Security at the SecDev Group.

via No, CSIS does not ‘target’ Muslims with no accountability – The Hill Times

Gardee’s op-ed made in the context of C-59:

Once bitten, twice shy. That’s the sense within Canadian Muslim communities when it comes to the Liberal government’s proposed overhaul of national security law under Bill C-59.

The legislation was back before the House last week after examination by the Public Safety and National Security Committee.

Let’s not forget where this first started. Under the previous government, Canadian anti-terrorism laws quickly morphed into overreaching and draconian policies. This was coupled with Muslim communities facing jarring public scrutiny and increasing Islamophobia.

Back then, despite efforts from Canadian Muslims to establish robust partnerships on national security, the government’s response was to smear them as a threat to Canada. The result: trust between Canadian Muslims and the government agencies tasked with protecting us all evaporated after years of work.

The days when the loyalty of Canadian Muslims was being questioned by government officials seem behind us—for now. But that is no standard by which to measure meaningful change.

That very public show of Islamophobic discourse by government overshadowed something even more alarming—the permeating of systemic bias and discrimination against Muslims by and in our security agencies.

In the past several months alone, we have seen sweeping allegations by CSIS employees about racism and Islamophobia within the service and new data that suggests the CBSA disproportionately targets non-whites, particularly those from the Middle East.

These accounts, along with the direct reports regularly received by our organization, only amplify concerns about what Canadian Muslims have been experiencing for years.

To be fair, Bill C-59 does make important, long-overdue improvements to previous laws, including better and more focused review powers and mechanisms as well as some stricter directives to prevent complicity with torture by foreign powers.

Last December, our organization told the House Public Safety Committeethat redress and review were only a partial solution to the problems plaguing Canada’s national security system. Real reform of security work is necessary to address systemic bias and discrimination.

As outlined by experts and civil society, there are several concerning elements in Bill C-59; however, two key issues have recently come to the fore.

First, the government has not substantially reined back the contentious disruption powers given to CSIS—an agency that we know through public inquiries has targeted Muslims with little to no accountability for their actions. There must be a concerted effort by government to confront the systemic bias in the way CSIS approaches and resources its intelligence work. Until real change occurs, these powers which remain unproven in their effectiveness are only an invitation to more abuse and scandal.

Second, the lack of due process in the Passenger Protect Program—Canada’s No Fly List—continues. This has been one of the most troubling instruments of state power for over a decade. There are no reported cases of Canadians successfully getting off the list through the Passenger Protect Inquiries Office which was created in 2016. Families impacted by the list say the inquiries office has been of little to no use. Although recently funding has been earmarked for a new redress system to remove false flagging, how and why Canadians find themselves on this draconian list in the first place remains unanswered.

As we look ahead, the aegis of this legislation does not engender the kind of trust from communities that is needed.

Incidentally, Public Safety Canada’s recently launched Canada Centre for Community Engagement and the Prevention of Violence is pledging a strategy that “reflects the realities faced by Canada’s diverse communities.” Canadian Muslims are closely watching whether this initiative is yet another exercise in falsely framing national security as the “Muslim problem” or whether policymaking will finally take into account the growing threat of far-right extremism in Canada.

In other words, rebuilding trust with our communities cannot be achieved through roundtables and focus groups.

It has been more than a decade since the Arar Inquiry report first outlined some of the protracted problems within our country’s security apparatus. Through the haze of political haste, 12 years later Canadian Muslims are still seeking the partnership with government that ends their national security stigmatization.

Government must rebuild trust with Canadian Muslims on national security

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

Bill 62: The European experience shows us it’s a bad idea: Fahmy

Mihad Fahmy of NCCM on Quebec’s niqab ban.

The issue is more with respect to women wearing niqabs being able to receive or use public services rather than blocking opportunities for them to work in public services as no cases to date have arisen to my knowledge (any case unlikely to go unnoticed). This latter issue has been largely absent from public commentary (not convinced that this would pass a reasonable accommodation test given the needs of an integrated workforce):

To understand the effects of Quebec’s Bill 62, it is important to understand what is going on in Europe. Driving the wedge deeper into an already divided society, Quebec politicians are copying policies that produce predictable results: rising xenophobia, violence against minorities and discrimination.

Historically, Canada has had a more accommodating approach to individual liberty than European countries, where the case law and legal discourse is built on the premise that public spaces and, by extension, public institutions and actors must be made to be religiously “neutral” in both form and substance.

In March, 2017, the European Court of Justice extended this principle when it ruled that private employers, like their public counterparts, can ban Muslim women from wearing the hijab in the workplace, so long as the rule applied to all employees.

The case reached the European court as a result of appeals by an office receptionist in Belgium and a professional design engineer in France, both of whom were fired for refusing to remove their headscarves at work.

In its ruling, the ECJ held that rules banning “the visible wearing of any political, philosophical or religious sign” were not discriminatory so long as they applied to religious garb from all faiths. Activists, lawyers and academics alike agree that this decision is significant, as it marks the first time the neutrality argument has been successfully used to justify restrictions on religious accommodation in the private sector.

European human rights advocates now fear that private-sector employees, predominately Muslim women, but also Sikh and Jewish men who wear religious garb, will be impacted by employers’ newfound entitlement to cloak discriminatory policies in the veil of religious neutrality.

Against this backdrop, the potential ramifications of Quebec’s Bill 62 are magnified. Despite its limited provincial reach, the law’s sweeping internal scope is alarming.

Women who wear the niqab (face veil) will be shut out of public-sector jobs and won’t be able to access municipal and provincial services. This includes going to university or college, registering kids for daycare or school, getting on a bus, applying for social assistance, taking out library books, registering kids for city recreational activities, and the list goes on. And despite their qualifications, niqabi women will also be ineligible for jobs within any of these workplaces, thereby further marginalizing an already vulnerable group of women.

As was evident this week, neutralizing the public sphere is not a straightforward endeavour. In attempting to clarify how this will all work, Quebec Justice Minister Stéphanie Vallée explained that faces need to be uncovered only at the point of contact with the public servant. For example, a woman is required to show her face when signing out library books at the circulation desk but not while browsing new releases; the niqab will have to come off when boarding a bus that requires photo ID, but not once the woman sits down. Such formulaic pronouncements cannot restore the dignity of women seeking to go about living their day-to-day lives and will do little to quell principled public discontent.

Similar guidelines have not been provided with respect to other provisions of the bill that are garnering less attention but are of no less concern – those which seek to regulate not dress, but behaviour. The bill reads: “In the exercise of their functions, personnel members of public bodies must demonstrate religious neutrality.” There is no telling how this vague obligation will be interpreted and enforced.

Quebec employers would do well to heed the advice of the European Network Against Racism (ENAR), when it argues that cultivating workplace neutrality entails turning one’s attention to the actual service being provided rather than the person delivering it. Otherwise, employers risk perpetuating discrimination.

The European experience tells us that nothing good can emerge from Bill 62. The Quebec government’s ill-conceived legislation only strengthens those elements in society pushing a dangerous us-versus-them agenda at the expense of constitutional rights and social cohesion. In a pluralistic society, this does not bode well for the future.

 Source: Bill 62: The European experience shows us it’s a bad idea – The Globe and Mail

A closer look at the rise in hate crimes in Canada

Good to see wide coverage of the latest hate crimes report. Of interest are the comments of NCCM on the increase in the number of hate crimes against Canadian Muslims (Muslim group urges Ottawa to speed up release of hate-crime statistics):

The National Council of Canadian Muslims connected the anti-Muslim bias to a backlash over two terror attacks in Paris in 2015. But the group also singled out Conservative Party election campaigning under former Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

“The Canadian Muslim community bore the brunt of sinister political rhetoric surrounding the federal election, which painted Muslims as terrorists or terrorist sympathizers, as well as being anti-woman,” council vice-chairman Khalid Elgazzar said at a press conference on Parliament Hill.

In an interview, Mr. Elgazzar referred to Conservative pitches in favour of “snitch lines” for so-called barbaric cultural practices, as well as a ban on face veils at citizenship ceremonies.

“Words matter and those words had an impact,” he said. “There was an immediate uptick in terms of incidents of hate being reported to us.”

The Statscan data indicate that hate crimes targeting Muslims in Canada rose to 159 incidents, a 61-per-cent spike over 2014. Jewish people remain the most targeted religious minority in Canada, though reported anti-Semitic incidents declined in 2015 over the previous year, the federal agency said.

Meanwhile, the percentage of women targeted by violent hate crimes increased because of a hike in the number of victimized women in the Jewish and Muslim communities. Over all, the sharpest rise in hate crimes was in Alberta, where officials have already noted an increase in total crime due to the province’s economic downturn.

Still, the true picture of hate in Canada is probably darker than the numbers released on Tuesday suggest. Statscan said the figures “likely undercounts” the real extent of hate crime in Canada because not all crimes are reported to police.

The two-year lag in releasing the figures is problematic at a time when Muslims feel the effects of turmoil linked to global radicalization, the presence of far-right groups in the West and the anti-Muslim rhetoric adopted by U.S. President Donald Trump.

Mr. Elgazzar’s organization has received an influx of complaints about anti-Muslim incidents this year, but they won’t be reflected by Statscan until 2019, he said. The data released on Tuesday are already two years old.

“You can’t build a case without evidence, and the evidence we have is stale,” he said. “It’s 2017 and I’ll tell you we’re having a pretty rough year. But we’re only going to hear about it in 2019.”

I suspect that international news events were a more important factor than the previous government’s playing identity politics (no excuse). Another possible factor, hard if not impossible to measure, is the degree to which Canadian Muslims are more willing to report hate crimes to the police, which has been an issue in the past. Higher numbers may reflect in part better Muslim-police relations.

In terms of timelines required to produce these reports, it would be nice, and should be possible, to have a one-year time lag rather than 18 months as at present, while ensuring the necessary data integrity and consistency.

One of the better overviews, with the relevant charts (just comparing the past two years compared to my eight year comparison The Daily — Police-reported hate crimes, 2015 (with annual 2008-15 data)):

The number of hate crimes in Canada jumped five per cent in 2015 from the year before, according to a Statistic Canada report released Tuesday.

The report looked at a variety of hate-crime statistics—from crime motivations and violations to the demographics of victims and the accused.

In total, 1,362 hate-crimes were reported across the country that year. To put that in perspective, there were nearly two million criminal incidents reported to police in the same year.

An increase in hate-crimes based on religion and race

Two major factor explain the increase—an uptick in religiously-based and race-based hate crimes. Nearly 50 per cent of all hate crimes reported in Canada in 2015 were motivated by hatred of race or ethnicity.

The largest increase in religiously-based hate crimes was against Muslims (an increase of 61 per cent to 159 incidents) and Catholics (a 57 per cent increase to 55 incidents). Jewish people faced the highest level of religiously motivated hate crimes (178 incidents) despite seeing a 16 per cent drop over the two years.

Hate crimes targeting Blacks were still the highest of all racially or ethnically motivated crimes in 2015 (224 incidents), though that was down slightly from the year before.

Hate crimes targeting sexual orientation fell by nine per cent between 2014 and 2015.

Violent hate crimes also increased

Violent hate crimes increased 15 per cent from 2014 to 2015, accounting for more than two-thirds all police-reported hate crimes. The most common types of violent hate-based crimes were assaults, which jumped13 per cent from the year before, and uttering threats, up 22 per cent.

Most victims younger than 35 years old

Nearly 60 per cent of hate crime victims in 2015 were younger than 35 years old, according to the report—a similar percentage as in 2014.

When it comes to victims of hate crimes motivated by religion, however, victims were younger than the year before—people under 35 accounted for nearly 60 per cent of victims in 2015, up from around two-thirds the year before.

FINAL---Characteristics-of-hate-crime-victims,-Canada,-2015-(%)

People accused of religious hate crimes are most likely to be under 18 years old

In more than 22 per cent of religious hate crime incidents, young people aged 12 to 17 years old were the perpetrators. Meanwhile people under the age of 24 were responsible for slightly more than half of hate crimes that targeted sexual orientation.

FINAL---age-distribution-of-persons-accused-of-hate-crimes-nationally,-2015--ungrouped

In its report, StatsCan suggested that the actual number of hate crimes could be considerably higher than what it found. It estimated that in two thirds of cases of hate crime, victims don’t file complaints with police. The agency also cautioned that the reporting rates can also vary by the targeted population—for example, some demographic groups might be more willing to report than others.

Source: A closer look at the rise in hate crimes in Canada – Macleans.ca

Charter for Inclusive Communities: NCCM

The latest and praiseworthy initiative of the NCCM: call to stand against Islamophobia in the broader context of anti-discrimination, anti-racism and shared values for all Canadians and communities.

Of course, like all charters and principles, the challenge arises in putting them into practice and the dialectic of balance of rights, but these provide a baseline to assist such debate and discussion:

By signing this Charter, we commit to standing up for the rights and dignity of everyone in order to promote inclusive, just, and respectful communities in Canada.

  • We strongly affirm that:Islamophobia, like all other forms of racism, hate, xenophobia, and bigotry, has no place in Canadian society.

  • Discrimination and acts of hate against anyone, marginalize individuals and communities and exclude them from participating fully in society and fulfilling their potential.

  • The dignity of every person in Canada is essential to a healthy and vibrant society.

  • Everyone in Canada has a role to play in creating safe environments for us all.

  • All levels of government, civil society, communities, and public officials have a duty to work together in developing policies, programs and initiatives to reduce and eliminate Islamophobia in all of its forms.

  • By working together, we can nurture inclusive communities and strengthen our shared commitment to Canada’s values of equality, respect, justice, and the dignity of all persons.

Source: NCCM – National Council of Canadian Muslims

Anti-Islamophobia ad campaign draws heated debate online

Means it’s working:

An ad campaign drawing attention to Islamophobia has Torontonians talking — and that’s just the point, backers of the campaign say.

The poster, recently rolled out at about 150 TTC stations and bus shelters across the GTA, depicts a young white man squaring off against a young woman in a head scarf.

“Go back to where you came from,” he says.

“Where, North York?” she replies.

The ads, launched this week by the City of Toronto and the Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants (OCASI), have sparked a flurry of comments online and on the street — precisely the point, said Amira Elghawaby: “to have constant dialogue … and force people to rethink their assumptions.”

Elghawaby, spokesperson for the National Council of Canadian Muslims, said recent events have rekindled latent prejudices.

The idea for the campaign was brought forward last fall, to cushion the arrival of Syrian refugees, she said, but has become all the more urgent in the wake of the Conservatives’ proposed partial ban on the niqab in 2015, presumptive Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s anti-Muslim rhetoric, the fallout from the Paris attacks and mass shootings in San Bernardino, Calif., and Orlando, Fla..

“Islamophobia has become a serious concern in many communities in Canada,” said Elghawaby, whose organization was consulted on the ad’s creation but isn’t an official part of the campaign.

It’s not uncommon for women wearing a hijab to field unsolicited questions about their origins or criticism of their appearance, Elghawaby said. “That almost goes with the territory of being a visibly Muslim woman in Canada.”

Hijabs and hockey don’t clash; head scarves and beavertails aren’t incompatible, she says: “In other words, I’m as Canadian as the next guy or gal. And newly arrived immigrants and refugees will eventually be as well.”

Some people saw the ad as entrenching stereotypes and inflaming tensions.

“I think it’s in poor taste. I think it feeds into a racial stereotype,” said Toronto resident Bryan Carras, referring to both figures depicted.

“It’s an oppressive form of expression. It makes me sick to think of the countries where there’s human rights problems and where (the hijab) is everywhere,” he said.

Reddit post of the ad sparked more than 200 comments in less than six hours last week.

Some were supportive: “I suppose it’s good for these messages to be out there, as a reminder — to victims as well as perpetrators — that this s**t isn’t acceptable.”

Others less so. “It creates a further divide between people by playing on a stereotypes (sic),” one commenter typed. “You think it’s just white people spewing Islamophobic rhetoric?” wrote another.

A fourth quipped in response: “It’s almost as though, in this instance, white men take things ‘too personal’ and need to stop ‘looking for reasons to be offended…’”

More than 80 per cent of Muslim respondents in an Environics survey last April said they were very proud to be Canadian, 10 per cent more than non-Muslims. Yet an assumption remains “that people who look different are not from here,” says Patricia Wood, a York University geography professor who focuses on diversity and urban citizenship.

Not only can that harm a person’s sense of belonging or safety, it’s simply not accurate, especially in Toronto, Wood says.

Source: Anti-Islamophobia ad campaign draws heated debate online | Toronto Star

What Canada needs now: a strategy against hate: Elghawaby

Amira Elghawaby, the communications director at the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM), with her suggestions on what should be done to combat anti-Muslim activity:

Yet the events of the past few days, both the terrorist attacks and the apparent backlash, must reinforce our commitment to ensuring Canada remains one of the happiest places on earth—for everyone. Our history shows that we have to work for the country we want.

How should we do this?

First, the federal government should immediately partner with Canadian Muslim communities to fashion an effective strategy to combat extremist narratives. This new brand of terror promotion is a contemporary phenomenon that few know how to tackle. The previous government did provide limited funding for an initiative called Extreme Dialogue which highlights the experiences of a mother of a young Canadian who was killed fighting overseas for extremist groups and the experiences of a former white supremacist. There was also some funding provided to explore community resilience through workshops and public fora. We need more of this, implemented strategically across the country.

Second, community stakeholders must come together to find new ways to teach about acceptance and to promote multiculturalism. Again, leadership is key: for example, provincial ministries of education must ensure that teachers are using the resources that national organizations like MediaSmarts and others provide to ensure curricula are taught through a lens that allows young people to identify stereotypes and to challenge popular misconceptions. We need to create safe spaces for our increasingly global classrooms.

Third, police services must bolster hate crimes units and their responses. Victims are often reluctant to report and it’s important to provide both adequate resources and support. Perpetrators must also be swiftly brought to justice.

Fourth, Islamophobia must be considered as offensive and as socially unacceptable as any other hatemongering out there, whether anti-Semitism, racism, homophobia or sexism. This means that even in political discourse, there must be a responsibility to ensure that questions about refugees, for example, are not giving people license to air anti-Muslim sentiments and fuel suspicions about people fleeing the very same type of terror we witnessed in Paris.

Fifth, it’s time to take the Islam, out of ISIS. Most of the world calls this terrorist movement Daesh and ISIS has been widely condemned by Muslim scholars and institutions worldwide. Muslims and Islam should not be synonymous with a group of barbaric criminals. It hurts our communities, it hurts our children, and it only bolsters their false claims. Even law enforcement agencies agree that language has the power to cast suspicion over entire communities, and provide a veneer of credibility to the terrorists’ claims.

Finally, Canadians must choose “love over fear,” to echo the touching sentiments expressed in a Montreal metro earlier last week by three young men who posted a video of their solidarity. Holding each other’s hands, a Muslim originally from Egypt, his friends from Paris and New York, did what many Canadians must do now—defeat the extremist narrative by coming even closer together.

I would also add to her list: maintain the Statistics Canada annual report on police-reported hate crimes (with the shift of multiculturalism to Canadian Heritage, this should be a priority).

Source: What Canada needs now: a strategy against hate | hilltimes.com

What a difference a day makes: The reframing of Canadian Muslims has begun

More evidence of how the change in tone is being noticed:

Women in headscarves are smiling everywhere. They are in the subway station in Montreal with brightly coloured headgear and cell phones to match. They are at a rally in Ottawa, up close with the prime-minister-designate as they snap selfies that will trend on Twitter. They are walking with their heads held just a little higher, returning smiles offered by random passersby.

What a difference a day makes. The same women who were expressing feelings of fear and discomfort just walking to a mall, or to school, are now the same women whose text emoticons are high-fives, fist bumps, and smiley faces as they share videos of Justin Trudeau bhangra dancing.

It is as though Canadian Muslims, and Canadian Muslim women in particular, stepped out of one frame and into another.

The previous frame had been imposed on them, without their consent and despite their protests. Throughout the election, Canadian Muslims watched as they were vilified as “other,” practitioners of “barbaric cultural practices,” and making choices alien from “Canadian values.”

This othering led to a documented spike in anti-Muslim incidents, including verbal and physical attacks on visibly Muslim women in both hijab and niqab, along with increased Islamophobic online postings and comments.

Yet this deliberate framing throughout the election period was nothing new. Canadian Muslim communities have endured years of it. Whether it was making sweeping generalizations about an entire faith – claiming that “Islamicism” was the greatest threat facing Canada – or suggesting that Canadian mosques could be harbouring radical extremists – a decade of Stephen Harper changed perceptions about Canadian Muslims in deeper and perhaps more hurtful ways than even the aftermath of 9/11.

Back then, Prime Minister Jean Chretien made it a point to visit Ottawa’s main mosque soon after those horrific attacks, memorably doffing his shoes and joining the congregants in a public show of solidarity.

Little of that was on show during the Harper years. After the deadly attack at Parliament Hill by a deranged individual pledging allegiance to violent extremist ideology a year ago, the Prime Minister went nowhere near a mosque.

The local police chief, on the other hand, reached out to community leaders to reassure them that the force was on alert in case of any backlash. Mr. Harper preferred to amplify the incident as a terrorist attack and underplay the details of the perpetrator’s life, including the fact that he was a homeless drug addict who had no formal connection to international terrorist groups.

…Canadian Muslims stepped out of those unfair frames every day as they continued to lead typical lives, yet the national framing and its impacts could not be ignored. A poll found that the number of Canadians holding negative impressions of Islam and Muslims had climbed to 54 per cent in 2013 from 46 per cent in 2009.

Is this now over? Probably not: There is a small but growing cottage industry of anti-Muslim bloggers and commentators who seem bent on suggesting that Islam and Muslims are inherently anti-democratic and dangerous. This may be helping to feed a nascent anti-Muslim movement in this country.

Yet a change in tone and rhetoric from the highest office in the land is certainly something to smile about. That alone will help change the picture, or at least refocus the lens.

Une poursuite en diffamation contre Harper devant les tribunaux: NCCM Case

Will be interesting to watch (earlier story Why Stephen Harper owes Canadian Muslims an apology):

Le bras de fer entre l’avocat de Stephen Harper et celui d’un groupe musulman qui poursuit en diffamation le premier ministre lui-même a commencé mardi, en pleine période électorale.

Le Conseil national des musulmans canadiens (NCCM) poursuit M. Harper et son ex-directeur des communications, Jason MacDonald, pour avoir affirmé à la télévision Sun News que l’organisme avait «des liens documentés avec une organisation terroriste telle que le Hamas».

Le groupe musulman assure avoir toujours dénoncé le terrorisme et demande une rétractation publique pour laver sa réputation ainsi qu’un montant de 100 000 $ en dommages-intérêts. Mais l’avocat du premier ministre a été clair mardi lors d’une requête présentée devant la cour: il entend prouver que le Conseil a bel et bien des liens avec le Hamas.

Mardi, les discussions ont tourné autour d’une demande de l’avocat du premier ministre, Peter Downard, d’avoir plus de temps pour interroger les intervenants, mais surtout d’avoir accès à plusieurs documents de la NCCM. Sa requête va de la liste des donateurs du groupe musulman à des informations sur certains de ses administrateurs, en passant par les documents liés au changement de nom du groupe (anciennement CAIR-CAN).

L’avocat de l’organisation, Jeff Saikaley, croit que ces documents ne sont pas pertinents à l’affaire, certains n’existant tout simplement pas, et il aimerait aller de l’avant avec le procès.

La juge de la Cour supérieure de l’Ontario Liza Sheard a réservé à plus tard sa décision sur l’affaire. Les deux parties devront s’armer de patience dans cette cause, puisqu’une autre requête devrait être entendue en novembre, et le procès comme tel risque de ne pas commencer avant plusieurs mois.

Une poursuite en diffamation contre Harper devant les tribunaux | Fannie Olivier | Actualités judiciaires.