In September, the Canadian parliament began its study on how to combat “Islamophobia” as decided upon in the M-103 motion. A parliamentary committee, the M-103 committee, was established for that very purpose. Although motion M-103 was not binding, Samer Majzoub, a Muslim Brotherhood affiliate of the Canadian Muslim Forum, tellingly advertised:
“Now that Islamophobia has been condemned, this is not the end, but rather the beginning… so that condemnation is followed by comprehensive policies.”
Majzoub’s statement presumably meant that the next steps would be to make M-103 binding.
Part of the problem, however, with any study of “Islamophobia”, as with any motions about it, is that it is never clearly defined.
Growing concern in Canada over liberal policies benefitting Muslim extremists sheds light on why an “anti-Islamophobia” bill — proposed in the wake of the deadly January 17 Quebec City mosque attack and approved by parliament on March 23 — spurred such heated controversy there.
Motion 103, tabled by Liberal Party MP Iqra Khalid, a Muslim representing Mississauga-Erin Mills, calls on the Canadian government to “develop a whole-of-government approach to reducing or eliminating systemic racism and religious discrimination including Islamophobia.” Because the bill makes no mention of any other religious group targeted by bigots, it was opposed by most Conservative Party politicians and a majority of the public.
Ahead of what would turn out to be a 201-91 vote in favor of the motion, a petition was circulated asking MPs not to support it. According to the petition, Motion 103 would “lay the groundwork for imposing what is essentially a Sharia anti-blasphemy law on all of Canada.”
The petition further stated:
“…criticism of Islam would constitute a speech crime in Canada.
“This motion uses the term ‘islamophobia’ without defining it, and without substantiating that there is in fact any such widespread problem in Canada.
“This will lead to ideologically-driven overreach and enforcement against alternative points of view—including mature, reasoned criticisms of Islam.
- “Criticism of the treatment of women in Islamic-majority Middle Eastern countries could be criminalized;
- “It could be a punishable offense to speak out against the Mustlim Brotherhood, or to denounce radical Imams who want to enact Sharia law in Canada;
- “Criticism or depiction of Muhammad could be punishable by law;
- “Schools that teach the history of Islam’s violent conquests could be fined—or worse.
“That kind of content-based, viewpoint-discriminatory censorship is unacceptable in a Western liberal democracy.”
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When Motion 103, a non-binding proposal titled “Systemic Racism and Religious Discrimination” was first introduced by MP Iqra Khalid, supporters claimed it was a thoroughly uncontroversial request to study religious discrimination – with a particular focus on Islamophobia – and develop a method of reducing its impact.
The motion was approved on March 23, 2017. Initially brought before the House of Commons for debate as the province of Quebec was recovering from an attack by a crazed gunman on a mosque, killing six worshippers, the motion spoke to an “increasing public climate of hate and fear.” As parliamentary motions in Canada are usually passed with a minimum of fuss and because a similar motion condemning Islamophobia had been passed by Parliament months before, there were grounds to assume that M103 would pass without complaint.
However, this time, Canadians – who already have a pretty solid reputation as the most tolerant country in the world – weren’t buying it. Polls showed the motion was vastly unpopular. Canada’s official opposition leader Rona Ambrose decried the motion as divisive. Protests against the motion sprang up in Canadian cities all throughout February and March. Opponents of M103 claim the motion benefits the growing Islamist presence within Canada’s Muslim communities.
Some Canadian journalists, such as Globe and Mail columnist Tabatha Southey, dismissed these concerns as “groundless xenophobia fuelled panic,” while National Post columnist Andrew Coyne wrote protests off as “hysteria” and “intolerance.” IPolitics correspondent Stephen Maher described the reaction as “anti-Muslim.” Canadian Muslim Forum President Samer Mazjoub claimed that an opposition motion, which offered a condemnation of all religious bigotry, not just Islamophobia, “has created waves of xenophobia” all across the country.
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