Tackling extremism includes tackling its roots. After the heinous crimes perpetrated against Charlie Hebdo in Paris last year, the world united around the adage that read "violence can never silence an idea." It is imperative that this same methodology be applied when challenging extremist ideologies.
On Canadian multiculturalism day the Prime Minister's multicultural message was bang on. Justin Trudeau declared that "Our roots reach out to every corner of the globe. We are from far and wide, and speak over 200 languages. Our national fabric is vibrant and varied, woven together by many cultures and heritages, and underlined by a core value of respect.
This Ramadan we must be reminded that there are those who fast from intimacy and physical love all the time because they are gay and their circumstances or their mindset make it impossible for them to find and fall in love with a partner of the same gender. Muslim family -- we know this is not how life is supposed to be lived.
The human rights, criminal and marriage laws of Canada may have changed since I frequented my first gay nightclub almost four decades ago, but the scourges of homophobia continue still, now coupled with a new brand of American home-grown and well-armed terrorism. Orlando drove this message home in a deeply personal way. I went to my first gay bar when I was in my early 20s. I went in search of belonging, in search of friendship, in search of community. I went to be around people like me, hoping I would find a safe place and strength in numbers.
Muslims can learn from mother. They must be proactive in the fight against Islamist movements that lead to terrorism. Because self-distancing alone cannot fight terror. On the contrary, merely denying personal responsibility for an act tends to lead very quickly to the abrogation of the responsibility to act.
When we say that nowadays to call for sexual freedom in Arab and Muslim societies is more dangerous than the demand to topple monarchies or dictatorial regimes, we are not playing with metaphor or attempting to gain sympathy. We are stating a bitter and painful fact of the reality in which we are living.
Huntingdon's clash of civilizations narrative insists that there is an irreconcilable conflict between Islamic and Western Civilization. Paradoxically the leaders of global terrorist movements such as Al Qaeda and the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) unequivocally agree with Huntingdon's view and have done their best to propagate it.
Visiting Canada on a European Parliament membership technicality with no federal or provincial parties willing to engage given her bigoted views (and possible stench of sulphur) has not prevented her from criticizing Canada's policies on immigration and multiculturalism. The terror attacks in Brussels have only added more ammunition to a sharp tongue already loaded with nationalist, nativist and jingoistic diatribe.
When some may think it's best to mind their own business when a very close friend is about to make a really bad decision, I believe it's important to let them know. With the strong possibility that the highly divisive Donald Trump will be the Republican candidate for the United States presidency, it is often out of friendship that many Canadians feel compelled to share their concerns with their neighbours to the south. After all, as friends, we don't want walls between us.
The responses of individuals and countries to the Syrian Refugee Crisis has been a bit of an informal test on the level of humanity within individuals and nations. Even though outwardly Canada seems to have embraced the incoming refugees, I think some people have forgotten the compassion and despair that was felt when the image of Alan Kurdi's lifeless body, was seared into our collective unconscious.
There is general belief that Islamic schools are religious educational bodies, and the kind of courses taught is based on Islamic theology. This is a false understanding. It is important to note that the majority of these schools are either don't or only partially receive subventions from provincial authorities.
In Canada, the term assimilation is especially unpopular. It's associated with painful events in the country's history. But the country's proponents of forced assimilation often underestimated the inevitability of resistance on the part of their targets. The lessons of our history seem lost on many Canadians as it's surprising to learn how many endorse making "others" like "them." Paradoxically, several Canadians that continue to fear assimilation are amongst those most apt to believe that their own cultural survival depends others assimilating.
Traditionally acknowledged by all Islamic schools of thought as being beyond gender, Allah is regarded as encompassing both masculine and feminine characteristics. Nonetheless, in contradiction of this concept, the vast majority of Muslims now refer to Allah by the masculine pronoun of "He" without reservation and in the Quran the pronoun "She" is never mentioned.
As the media vigorously tries to answer the root causes of radicalism, I wish they would do the same about the outrageous Republican candidate that is Mr. Trump. What, or who, radicalized him? His actions mirror the fanatics and extremists who seek to divide us and create mistrust and hate between neighbours.
Before I talk about the wretched Muslims ruining America, I'm going to admit I'm not American. I am Canadian, which I realize is pretty unfortunate. To make up for this deficiency, I've always pretended to be American. I pretend because it is feels great to be "exceptional" and more civilized than the rest of the world. I pretend because it makes me feel safer to fear others who are different. I pretend because American Republican politicians aren't afraid to demonstrate their overt bigotry by generalizing an entire group of people. Now, it's time to finally stop pretending and fulfill my true destiny.
A window of opportunity has opened where several provincial governments and Ottawa are enlightened and willing to partner to deal with problems. Eleven Muslim MPs were elected to Ottawa alone in 2015, and one is a cabinet minister. If the stars are aligned, what then are the key challenges that the community should take on?
The coordinated killings that rocked Paris over the weekend are an unspeakable horror. But we must not allow the horrific nature of this atrocity to drag Canada back into the racism, Islamophobia and war-mongering that characterized our last government. The burden to hold firm on the change that we demanded in the October election is jointly shared between Canadians and our Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Muslims are a marginalized group within Canada. We don't have access to political power in the way white people do, and we are in fact subject to stereotypes and demonization from political power and the media alike -- the collective blame laid upon Muslims legitimizes the idea that all Muslims should be punished for the acts of a tiny minority. Once this idea is legitimized, spates of hate crimes are committed and some Muslims end up feeling unsafe in their own communities.