by Khadijah Ali (News & Analysis, Crescent International Vol. 44, No. 10, Safar, 1437)
Canada may have elected 10 Muslims to parliament — the first time in its history — but that is no protection against racist attacks. Several arson and physical attacks against masjids and Muslims have occurred in Canada in the wake of the terrorist acts in Paris on November 13.
True, officials at the highest level including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau have condemned these attacks in unequivocal terms. Trudeau is no doubt sincere; he has maintained all along that Canada’s strength lies in its diversity. He has demonstrated this through personal example in terms of his interaction with Muslims, Sikhs, Hindus, and other minority communities. He has also included several members of minority communities in his cabinet. These are all positive signs but they do not on their own stem the tide of racism and bigotry that has been given respectability by some politicians and media outlets.
Let us first recap what has happened to Muslims in Canada so far. A day after the Paris terrorist attacks, a masjid in Peterborough, Ontario, the city’s only masjid, was firebombed. An estimated $80,000 damage was caused. Two days later (November 16), two white males publicly assaulted a hijab-clad woman in Thorncliffe Park, a predominantly Muslim neighborhood of Toronto. The woman was on her way to pick up her children from school.
Her hijab was pulled off and the two men kicked and punched her in the stomach, knocking her to the ground. Her wallet and cell phone were snatched as they shouted racist slurs at her telling her, “You don’t belong here; go back to where you came from.”
The hijabi woman and all her siblings were born in Canada. Her extended family also lives in the Thorncliffe Park neighborhood. Despite her injuries, she managed to escape into the school building where the staff knew her. They immediately called the police and ambulance. She was taken on a stretcher to hospital as her young son looked on in horror, dazed at what had transpired.
The Thorncliffe Park assault was not an isolated incident. For Muslim women in hijab, the Toronto transit system — whether the subway or buses—has also become a hazardous place. Two of them were accosted on the subway after the Thorncliffe Park assault and again told to “go back to where you came from.” Both the mayor of Toronto, John Tory and the TTC chair condemned the racist slurs. Mayor Tory also condemned the Thorncliffe Park attack. He said these do not represent Canadian values and that every effort would be made to apprehend the cuprits and bring them to justice.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has also expressed deep concern about these attacks. While attending international conferences in Turkey and the Philippines, he released the following statement on November 18. “I have noted with deep regret a number of highly disturbing acts aimed at certain Canadians, including the fire at the mosque in Peterborough, the smashing of windows at a Hindu Temple in Kitchener and the attack on a Muslim woman in Toronto.”
He further added, “Diversity is Canada’s strength. These vicious and senseless acts of intolerance have no place in our country and run absolutely contrary to Canadian values of pluralism and acceptance.”
These are reassuring words coming from the prime minister. What is undeniable, however, is that some politicians as well as segments of the Canadian media have made Islamophobia respectable. To use a cliché, Islamophobia is the last form of racism that is still accepted as normal. This is passed off under the rubric of a nebulous security threat.
While no government or security agency should take security threats lightly, it is a far cry from targeting a vulnerable community that has lived peacefully in Canada. True, the Paris attacks were horrific and the people that were targeted and killed were innocents but why should Muslims residing in Canada have to pay the price for such crimes in France or elsewhere?
After every terrorist act anywhere in the world, the media demands that Muslims in Canada, the US and Europe must condemn such acts. Muslims and their organizations have done so repeatedly even though no such demand is ever made of any other faith community when their co-religionists perpetrate such terrorist acts. Quite aside from this, the media’s approach is disingenuous. They refuse to report the Muslims’ condemnation of such attacks but keep asking why Muslims aren’t condemning them. To call these media-types tone deaf would be far too charitable; they are absolutely wicked.
There is also another factor at work. Muslims and Islam are deliberately linked with every act of terror. What is conveniently ignored is that there are more than 1.8 billion Muslims in the world. They are spread over 57 countries; they speak different languages and have different cultural backgrounds. All of these differences are ignored and Muslims are considered a monolithic bloc and held responsible for every crime that is committed by any Muslim in any part of the world. Why should Canadian Muslims be victimized for a crime committed in another part of the world by people with whom they have absolutely no contact or link?
Racism and bigotry, however, do not emerge in a vacuum. The climate of hate is deliberately created. The media’s role has been mentioned and we will return to it a little later but we must examine the role of some political figures that use hatred as a tool to advance their narrow interests. Some politicians are racists and bigots, period.
These types exists in the US — Donald Trump and Ben Carson (a black man, no less!) — as well as in Canada. Let us name some of them. Former Prime Minister Stephen Harper never missed an opportunity to whip up hatred against Muslims. Several of his ministers — Jason Kenney and Chris Alexander, for instance — also fall into this category. Harper’s Conservatives were turfed out of office in the October 19 general elections but they still garnered 30% of popular support. This is worrying.
Let us recall some of Harper’s deliberate attempts to besmirch the Muslims’ name. In an interview with Peter Mansbridge on CBC television in September 2012, Harper said “Islamicists” posed the greatest threat to Canada. He did not explain who these “Islamicists” were; Mansbridge did not bother to ask him either. In the same interview he said the case of 1,200 missing and presumed dead First Nations’ women was not high on the list of priorities of his government. How else do you describe a racist?
On January 30, 2015, Harper appeared at a carefully selected gathering of Conservative Party supporters in Richmond Hill, Ontario at which he again attacked Muslims. When asked whether Bill C-51 (aka anti-terror bill), which he wanted to rush through parliament, would have prevented the two attacks that occurred in October 2014 in Montreal and Ottawa, he said he did not know but he was going to go after Muslims whether they were being radicalized in basements or masjids. This is a completely false allegation; Muslims are not being radicalized in masjids but Harper felt no shame in making the allegation.
He went further. During the recent election campaign, he targeted two niqabi women turning their case into a hot button issue. The two women said they would willingly remove their niqab in front of a female judge or in a room full of women. They had already removed the niqab in front of a female judge for identification purposes and said would gladly do so again if there were only females present. Harper targeted one of the niqabi women, Zunera Ishaq. He and his gang of ministers were adamant she had to remove her veil that they called a “barbaric cultural practice.” Twice, the courts rejected the government’s position. Harper was undeterred and vowed to appeal the case in the Supreme Court. He also announced that if elected, he would ban the wearing of niqab in all government offices.
To the relief of many, especially Muslims, he lost the election and Canadians were spared the hate-filled messages of this man who had ruled Canada for far too long and brought nothing but shame to the country. When officials at the highest level indulge in such hateful rhetoric, it naturally encourages bigots and racists to come out of the woodwork. This is precisely what has happened. The consequences are there for all to see.
And then there are Muslim opportunists who have donned the mantle of being progressive, liberal and modern. They are nothing of the sort. They are filled with hatred of Islam and ordinary Muslims. This unrepresentative bunch of nutcases has realized that if they were to indulge in hate-filled rhetoric against Muslims, they would get some recognition from the anti-Muslim Zionist media and pro-Israeli politicians.
We are going to name them. They are a miniscule bunch of nutcases that have zero standing in the Muslim community but they claim to speak on its behalf and the rabidly anti-Muslim pro-Zionist media— Sun newspaper, Ottawa Citizen and the National Post, for instance — give them ample space in their columns. The leader of this gang is one Tarek Fatah.
This man proudly proclaims that his ancestors were Hindus. One would be hard pressed to find another Muslim that would take pride in his/her Hindu ancestry. He is also an ardent admirer of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi who emerged from the Hindu fascist outfit, the RSS.
Fatah is a rank opportunist. For many years, he was a member of the NDP when Bob Rae was the premier of Ontario. He wormed his way into Rae’s good books and got a job in his office. Later, he was thrown out of the party because of his unethical practices. He then joined the Liberal Party but in the last election, he said he was going to support Harper. That probably contributed to Harper’s humiliating defeat at the polls. Closely working with Fatah are two women, Raheel Raza and Farzana Hassan. Raza has taken it upon herself to oppose the niqab. She also gets ample time on radio and in pro-Israeli newspapers because she spews venom against Muslims.
As a revert to Islam, I have sincere advice for auntie Raheel Raza: please put on the niqab. It will do you a world of good. At your age, you would not need to put on a ton of make up. And it would not win you any brownie points except with the Zionist controlled media if you lead men in prayers. Believe me, it is not a pretty sight when you prostrate standing in front of men.
Whether Fatah, or aunties Raheel and Farzana and their ilk realize it or not but Canada has changed. The political wind is now blowing in the opposite direction. It would not come as a surprise if these people suddenly declare that they were ardent supporters of Trudeau and the Liberal Party all along. After all, these ideological mongrels have no commitment to anything except that they must always be with the winning side. The noble Qur’an describes this breed of people as munafiqs.