Motion against Islamaphobia an attempt to silence rational critics of political Islam

By Anthony Furey
Winnipeg Sun
Jan 29, 2017

MP’s pitch spells trouble

Long before there was “fake news” and “alternative facts,” we had to grapple with “Islamophobia.”

The term first worked its way into popular culture more than a decade ago. It was originally used to denounce the harassment and inconveniences average Muslims unduly faced in the aftermath of 9/11.

But Islamophobia soon morphed into a catch-all phrase to silence anyone critical of the religion. This applied even if they were denouncing extremism like Shariah law or groups like the Muslim Brotherhood.

It’s now become so bad that it’s even hurled at liberal Muslims in the West for speaking out against the ultraorthodox values that caused them to flee their home countries in the first place. The term has been rendered meaningless and anyone serious about tackling genuine religious discrimination should toss it aside.

Yet now Canada’s MPs are poised to approve a motion that could very well set the government on the path to criminalizing so-called Islamophobia. This is nothing but trouble for anyone who takes issue with the unsavoury aspects of orthodox Islam. I’m looking at you, women’s marchers, gay rights activists and my fellow non-believers.

When the House of Commons returns next week, Liberal MP Iqra Khalid’s M-103, which has the unobjectionable title of “Systemic racism and religious discrimination,” will be somewhere on the order paper and up for a vote.

Scratch below the surface and it’s immediately clear this is hardly about religious discrimination in general. It singles out Islamophobia by name and nothing else. There’s no mention of, say, antiSemitism at all.

Its first point is to “recognize the need to quell the increasing public climate of hate and fear.” What a vague and unsubstantiated sentence. This is lawmaking, folks, not social justice warrior blogging.

The motion then goes on to direct MPs to take note of a petition on the government’s website that was signed by tens of thousands of Canadians.

“Recently, an infinitesimally small number of extremist individuals have conducted terrorist activities while claiming to speak for the religion of Islam,” petition E-411 notes. “Their actions have been used as a pretext for a notable rise of anti-Muslim sentiments in Canada.”

It continues: “These violent individuals do not reflect in any way the values of the teachings of all the religion of Islam. In fact, they misrepresent the religion. We categorically reject all their activities. They in no way represent the religion, the beliefs and the desire of Muslims to co-exist in peace with all peoples of the world.”

Then — and here’s where the trouble really takes root — the petition says “we ... call upon the House of Commons to join us in recognizing that extremist individuals do not represent the religion of Islam, and in condemning all forms of Islamophobia.”

Hang on a second ... first they’re talking about terrorists but then they end with “extremist individuals.” Not the same thing. Not at all. You can be an extremist, a radical, a supremacist, without being a terrorist.

The ummah isn’t a binary world of a few terrorists on one side and then over a billion moderate liberals on the other. There’s a massive grey area that holds severely orthodox values completely at odds with the West. And we should all feel free to call them out for it.

But you can see how denouncing a radical imam for his Shariah advocacy could end up being considered, in the eyes of this motion, an Islamophobic act that’s a part of this alleged uptick in public fear. This is an attempt to silence rational critics of political Islam.

Now motions aren’t the same as private member’s bills. They’re often just about nodding in agreement with some flaky sentiment. M-103 is different. It’s got teeth.

It calls on the Heritage Committee to commence a study on eliminating Islamophobia. The study could then recommend laws to pursue this nebulous goal. If they do, there’s a good chance they’ll be dragnet laws that criminalize anyone who dares stand up to the many unsavoury parts of orthodox Islam.

There’s certainly evidence of an increasing climate of hate in Canada ... coming from within Islam. Supremacist groups like the Brotherhood and Hizb ut-Tahrir have a rising presence here. And yet this motion could handcuff us from standing up to them.