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.
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.
Why aren't more Muslims living in the West actively speaking out against a series of terror acts inspired by Islamic State ideology? Are the press releases against such acts released by traditional Islamic centres enough to show our solidarity with our neighbours? These are the questions in my mind.
If it is not right to host Islamophobic or white supremacist speakers, then it is not right to host Muslim supremacist, homophobic and transphobic speakers. Indeed, all zulm (oppression) is connected. Muslims overwhelmingly condemn ISIS. However, according to Muslim human rights activist, Shafiqah Othman Hamza, it is not enough to quote Qur'anic verses on peace while ignoring the systemic persecution and discrimination of minorities.
Recently, a bloodthirsty mob torched an Ahmadi owned factory in the Pakistani city of Jhelum. In contrast to Canada, where communities galvanize against hate, there were no rallies in defence of Ahmadi neighbours, and social media was ablaze with their "heresies" instead of condemnation of persecution.
The power of small acts of kindnesses should not be underestimated, for they are more powerful than military expeditions. Indeed, it is not the youth who are loved that are prone to radical indoctrination but those who are forsaken at the margins. It is also important to understand that strength lies in diversity, for if we unconditionally reach out to others, they will likely reach out to us in our time of need.
Such is the nature of our hyper-connected planet that events seemingly worlds away from our day-to-day lives can reverberate in our neighbourhood. That is the power and promise of social media - it makes the world smaller. The flip side, however, is that faraway events, like those in Paris, Beirut, Nigeria and Egypt, can embolden otherwise-marginal, hateful forces here at home.
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.
A vicious cycle of hate seems to have been engendered where hatred of the West feeds the hatred of Islam. The way out of this hate is by looking within instead of pointing fingers at others. Some people do not care for such a nuanced understanding. They look for simplistic answers to complex problems.