How a misleading YouTube video is stoking fears about Shariah law before the federal election

Expect we will see more of this in the lead up to the election:

A short, grainy YouTube video circulating on social media purports to show evidence of an imam claiming that if Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is re-elected, he will institute Shariah law, the legal code of Islam, based on the Qur’an.

But the video was taken out of context, according to the man featured in it, and it was created by Sandra Solomon, known for her anti-Islam views.

The video has about 50,000 views on YouTube, a middling amount, but it has been posted on at least three different Facebook groups that are critical of Trudeau. Altogether, the groups have more than 185,000 likes, and posts of the video were shared more than 7,000 times.

The three pages get high engagement in terms of reactions, comments and shares, and they are in some of the most popular groups spreading memes and disinformation online. These groups equal or often exceed many traditional media outlets for engagement on Facebook.

The video itself includes a short section from a speech about Islam delivered by Mufti Aasim Rashid in Kamloops, B.C., in October 2017. It also features a picture of Justin Trudeau praying at a mosque and ends on a clip of Trudeau championing diversity, which is then covered up by a photo illustration of a small child wearing a “Make Canada Great Again” hat.

What’s in the video

In the full-length recording of Rashid’s speech posted to YouTube, he is critical of fears over Shariah, saying it is a principle that underpins Islam, and there is no conspiracy among Muslims to bring Shariah to Canada.

Nowhere in the video does Rashid mention Trudeau or the 2019 federal election. In fact, during the portion of the speech used in the misleading video, Rashid said he was actually referring to the former Stephen Harper Conservative government.

Taken out of context, the section that Solomon excerpted appears to show that Rashid believes the Canadian government wants Shariah law.

“The Canadian government wanted the Muslims to be able to regulate their own issues of marriage and divorce and set up systems of mediation and arbitration to solve their problems amongst themselves through Shariah law so that it’s not a burden on the court system, which is already so bogged down,” he said.

“The Canadian government wanted people like myself to sign off on custody cases, where there was an allegation of parental abduction,” he said in the video, specifying it relates to Muslim countries who might seek the approval of Muslim clerics in such cases.

Reached by phone, Rashid was surprised to find that a clip of his speech was circulating.

“I had no idea that someone would use that clip in that way,” he said.

Rashid told CBC News that his comments on arbitration referred to the Ontario government, which had allowed religious-based arbitration from 1991 until Premier Dalton McGuinty said in 2005 that “there will be no Shariah law in Ontario, there will be no religious arbitration.” The Liberals then passed an amendment to the province’s arbitration act.

Rashid said his second comment concerned the Stephen Harper government, and that representatives of the government had approached Muslim leaders in 2015 to help regarding custody cases where one parent in a couple has taken a child or children to a country whose legal system uses Islamic law. He specified that many countries with Islamic law haven’t signed on to the Hague convention on international child abduction, so according to Rashid, the federal government was meeting with Muslim organizations to see if they could offer endorsements or rulings that would be accepted by those countries, affirming whether a parent had permission to take their child.

Rashid said he was the director of religion for the B.C. Muslim Association when they were approached by the government.

A Senate committee in 2015 did look at the issue of cross-border child abduction, and did focus on the issue of working with countries whose legal systems are based in Islamic law.

Shariah law fears unfounded

Disinformation about the government and Shariah isn’t new — and some of it can be traced to fears around the federal government’s motion to condemn Islamophobia, religious discrimination and systemic racism in 2017.

This year, posters claiming the government wants Shariah were on display at a yellow vest protest in Alberta. Yellow vest protesters often espouse anti-immigration views, and the City of Hamilton is currently investigating the legal ramifications of banning yellow vest protests in front of city hall over safety concerns.

Just this week, People’s Party of Canada Leader Maxime Bernier accused Trudeau in a tweet of having room in his party for people who want to institute Shariah law. In another tweet this week, Bernier accused both Trudeau and Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer of pandering to people who “promote sharia law.”

Trudeau has been clear on several occasions this year that Canada doesn’t have Shariah law and he is not seeking to implement it.

At a town hall in Ste-Hyacinthe, Que., in January, Trudeau said when asked about Shariah lawthat “Canada doesn’t have it and will not have it.”

The Prime Minister’s Office also referred CBC News to another town hall in Regina the same month, when Trudeau said that “misinformation” was circulating about his position on Shariah law.

“You should be looking into what the facts are, you should be a responsible consumer of information,” he told a woman who claimed to have read a report indicating Trudeau had said Shariah law was compatible with Canadian values.

“I am pleased to be able to tell you that that also is not something that I ever said,” he told her.

A longer clip from Rashid’s speech circulated on anti-Muslim websites last year, but got little traction. Even Solomon’s video, a minute-long clip of his hour-long speech, didn’t get much attention when it was posted on her YouTube page in November 2018. It wasn’t until April this year that it first appeared on a Facebook page called United Conservative Movement of Canada. Then it appeared on two more pages in June and July and began to circulate more widely on Twitter.

Who’s behind the video

Sandra Solomon was investigated by Peel Police in March of 2018 for ripping out pages of a Qur’an and placing them on the windshields of cars parked outside an Islamic centre in Mississauga, Ont.

At the time, police investigated the behaviour as possibly “hate-motivated” but they did not lay charges in the case because “it was determined that no criminal offence has taken place,” a Peel Police spokesperson said.

CBC News reached out to Solomon by phone and email. She did not return emails, and a person who answered a phone number listed on her website said it was a wrong number.

Evan Balgord, the executive director of the Canadian Anti-Hate Network, said the video plays into two primary fears pushed by anti-Trudeau and far-right groups online.

“That there is a secret Muslim conspiracy to take over Canada is like, their No. 1 thing, and their No. 2 thing is that Trudeau is a secret Muslim,” he said.

Balgord said the video hit on those two points, and since the comments were made by a Muslim man, it has all necessary conditions to be shared widely in outrage.

Source: How a misleading YouTube video is stoking fears about Shariah law before the federal election

FATAH: Sandra Solomon’s bigotry helps the Islamists

I don’t normally post articles by Tarek Fatah given I find him overly alarmist but his critique of Sandra Solomon more than merited:

Just when the spectre of a Canadian law based on Motion 103 that would have criminalized the critique of Islam seemed to be receding, one Sandra Solomon has given Islamists a fresh lease on life. Solomon states she is an ex-Muslim convert to Christianity, saying she is a Palestinian who suffered sexual abuse in Saudi Arabia by her former husband.

Last week, Solomon visited a mosque in Mississauga where she tore up pages of the Quran and heaped abuse on worshippers, referring to the Muslim holy text as a “satanic evil book” and said she wants to see the Quran designated as “hate literature.”

Had Solomon simply stood outside the mosque with placards to criticize Islam and protest the Islamic texts that permit wife-beating and promote armed jihad, she would be in her right to do so. But that is not all what she did.

Video footage shows Solomon entered the mosque when worshipers were praying and yelled bigoted epithets. “What God do you worship? You worship Satan, that’s who Muslims worship,” she shouted as she was led out.

In a video that has since been deleted from the Internet, but captured by Global TV, Solomon speaks to the camera boasting that she has been visiting mosques for over a year. She then proceeds to rip pages out of a Quran, and places them on the windshields of cars in the parking lot.

If not hateful, at best Solomon’s behaviour was derisive, uncouth, ill-mannered, uncivil and most certainly undeserving of the cross she proudly wears as a symbol of her faith in Jesus.

On the two occasions that I have run into Solomon, she has come across as someone obsessed with herself, and seeking the attention of people around her. At an event hosted by “Muslims Against M103”, she had to be told to stop addressing the audience from the floor when she started ranting about herself.

If Solomon was protesting the alleged hatred some Muslims have for non-Muslims, then she played straight into the hands of the very people she was opposing.

Hatred cannot be fought with hate (or even love). Wisdom suggests hatred is fought only with truth backed by facts and reason. Unfortunately, Solomon has plenty of hate and totally lacks wisdom. Just a tiny bit of the latter would have made her realize that she is the agent provocateur who unwittingly serves the interests of the people she supposedly opposes.

Earlier this year my colleague Farzana Hassan wrote on these pages that the “M103 report seems to signal victory for citizens who sought to protect free speech.” Her optimism, she said, was based on the fact the wording on the M103 report “certainly appears to accede to their demand that ‘Islamophobia’ not be treated as a special case” as “twenty-nine out of the 30 recommendations in the report even avoid the nebulous and troublesome word.”

Now that Solomon has provided a fresh lease on life to ‘Islamophobia,’ Hassan’s words may well prove to be premature. Already a group The Muslim Council of Peel and some mosques say they are working with the police and “have asked for this to be investigated as a hate incident.”

As for the self-righteous Imams and Islamists who are crying “hate”, perhaps it is time for them to take stock of their own actions. At least 20 times a day, from dawn to dusk in every mosque of Canada, they should stop describing Jews as “people who are suffering the wrath of God” and Christians as people “led astray from the path of God.”

Source: FATAH: Sandra Solomon’s bigotry helps the Islamists