Six years ago, I could not imagine the day my son would go into grade 1, let along imagine my son asking me if he can fast. Last week, he said to me: "I want to fast with you and dad. Please, please, please!" I was silent at first, not knowing how to tell him that there is no way I am letting him fast 17 hours.
Ramadan is scheduled to commence later this week and I am not looking forward to it. The Islamic calendar is lunar based, so Ramadan shifts by approximately 10 days every year. Fasting during the winter months is easy with dawn being so late and sunset being so early. Fasting during the summer months is brutal -- dawn is currently at 3:45 a.m. and sunset is at 9 p.m.
Few media outlets have mentioned the abuses that minorities in Bangladesh have endured since the country won its independence from Pakistan in 1971. Discrimination is particularly brutal against the indigenous peoples of the Chittagong Hill Tracts region, who have suffered horrific human rights violations at the hands of Bangladeshi settlers and the military forces supporting them. Canada is an aid donor to Bangladesh and must take action to end the ongoing human rights violations against religious minorities and indigenous peoples.
A ceremony designed to showcase our national values of freedom of religion, expression, accommodation and speech? Well, let's just say that this election year, the Prime Minister should focus on reaching elsewhere for points rather than conjuring fear from diversity at a time where cultural understanding and unity are desperately needed.
On January 30, a reporter asked Harper how newly-introduced anti-terror legislation will differentiate between somebody who is "radicalized" and "a teen who's just messing around in the basement." Harper answered by saying promoting terrorism is a serious offence no matter "what the age of the person is, or whether they're in a basement, or whether they're in a mosque or somewhere else." Harper's response to this question associates hundreds of mosques across the country with the promotion of terrorism and violence and is misguided for multiple reasons.
Muslims are justifiably worried that we'll be implicated in the crimes of these individuals. But Michael Zehaf-Bibeau was still a human being looking for support from both his Muslim and non-Muslim communities. And although we'll never know the truth, it seems he eventually found his support on the Internet, which preys on the marginalized in our society. People want moderate Muslims to speak out and decry radicalization. And they do, but tweets and press releases are not always the answer because they don't solve a very real societal problem. There are unwell people out there who need our help. And they are increasingly showing up in our mosques.
This week, Canadians observed the National Day of Remembrance for Victims of Terrorism. For Sikh Canadians and Jewish Canadians alike, the Day of Remembrance has particular resonance. That our two communities have shared experience in facing terrorism was pointedly on display during the 2008 Mumbai attack.
Quebec's Muslim women have been threatened -- violence against veiled women has increased dramatically since the Charter debate was introduced. In Quebec, the issue of choice and self-determination around the veil is critical. It would seem, then, that in matters of fashion, religion, and secularism, Montreal's Muslim women are being held to a higher standard by their provincial government. Montreal's young Hijabistas -- and those who support them -- told us what the veil means to them.
When I leaned over and asked a woman in a movie theatre to please put her cellphone away, she started yelling at me. She AND her husband called me an F'ing TERRORIST repeatedly. Does the colour of my skin or the fact that I wear a piece of cloth on my head make it alright to lambaste me in public in front of my child and her friends?
A peppy, intrepid, and widely read blogger from Denver, Ann Barnhardt, has stirred controversy with a vituperative attack on Islam and a specific denigration of Muhammad. She used bacon strips as book marks while reading from the Koran and then ripped out the pages and burned them on a video. Her strictures against Muhammad are excessive, given that the Prophet has a greater personal following than any ostensibly human religious figure except Jesus Christ, and they are regrettable, but her contempt for the Jihadists is commendable and brave, and should be emulated.
The Komagata Maru was introduced to me sandwiched between narratives of the Chinese Head Tax and Japanese Internment. It had no scope to breathe. No room for discussion and further explanation. And it was the only time I remember seeing people that looked like me in my school textbooks. But the Komagata Maru is more elusive. It took me years to unlearn the biases I had built up around the story, hear the voices of the pioneers and understand the history on its own terms.
Many comments regarding the appropriateness and potential effectiveness of the Canadian Office of Religious Freedom have been made; however, with the exception of a few reporters, no one has noted the exclusion of Secular Humanist or atheist organizations from whatever consultation that occurred. The frosting on that cake was the failure to invite representatives from any Secular Humanist organizations to the press conference formally announcing the creation of the office and the appointment of Dr. Andrew Bennett as its ambassador.
Growing up I was taught that homosexuality was bad. Not by my family, but by society. I took an extreme stance on homosexuality and internalized it in a very detrimental way. To keep people from knowing about my "secret", I became a gang member. I was known for being ruthless to others. Early 2009, I was arrested and sent to serve time with the State of Georgia. I remember asking the prison Imam about homosexuality, who told me that the only difference of opinion in traditional Sunni law was the manner in which the homosexual was to be executed. During Pride in Atlanta, I was told about an organization that changed my life forever.
Anti-Muslim bigots have gone too far in criticizing Justin Trudeau for his anticipated speech at a major Islamic conference that is going to be held towards the end of the month in Toronto. I find it disheartening to have hate-mongers trying to muzzle a convention like this one where people gather from all over the continent to nourish their souls.
The shooting of the young Pakistani activist shows one thing: Fanatics are cowards who resort to violence to silence their critics. Malala Yousufzai was shot and seriously wounded on Tuesday as she was leaving her school in her hometown. It is sad and shameful to see these thugs committing horrific crimes against humanity in the name of religion. Doing their dirty work in the name of the faith is a great insult to those who follow the faith and to the faith itself.
There is no justification for the murder of U.S. Ambassor Chris Stevens and three other U.S. diplomats in Benghazi last night. But at the same time, there is no justification for the movie that led to these attacks. The murder of those four Americans is the cause of the recklessness, ignorance and hatred of two parties: extremist Muslims and the film's writer and director, Sam Bacile. Maybe there is no work of art that is worth the loss of life, but at the very least, when individuals are killed over their work, we hope to be able to learn something from the creation in question, we hope that there is some consolatory value in an unnecessary sacrifice. Such is not the case here.