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.
Journalist Doug Sanders, whose latest book The Myth of the Muslim Tide: Do Immigrants Threaten The West? tackles (and pretty much straightens out) the laundry-list of misconceptions and falsehoods that has made its way from the fringe to the forefront of the public domain about Muslim immigration and the West. In this interview, he goes in-depth on the larger issues.
The stakes here are high. The Muslim-tide beliefs have already become the founding myth behind several alarming political movements and the cause of one notable act of terrorism. Promoting these myths about Muslim immigrants has become a significant mainstream theme in global electoral politics with scarcely any proper fact checking of the underlying claims. It is vitally important to separate the real problems with Muslim immigration from those that are manufactured out of fear and bad information.
Many queer activists rise above their circumstances and assert their voice for justice that is not limited to LGBT issues. Belonging to a vulnerable minority, they understand prejudice and can empathize with "others." Queer Muslim activists, despite facing immense prejudice, continue their work quietly and with dignity. Their work ends up helping the very Muslim communities that so strongly shun them. They truly know the meaning of spiritual chivalry, to practice good without expecting the same in return.
The 14-year-old boy in the burka buying liquor from the LCBO was a big story recently -- and the problem is not 14-year-old grade 8 boys buying booze, but of anyone wearing a burka or veil, rarely being questioned. Who can blame the LCBO cashier for not risking the wrath of human rights zealots? The greater implications of this burka-and-booze story is that it could happen anywhere. The burka is an ideal disguise in our country, because we are so sensitized to pretending it's normal, that we are reluctant to cause a scene by asking questions.
Multiculturalism has veered off course when those responsible for our safety -- a major threat to which is Islamist terrorism -- are reluctant to use direct language to describe that threat. Law enforcement officials must be properly and candidly briefed on the role of religious ideology in some strains of terrorism.
The Prophet is reported to have stated that keeping good relations with people was better than praying, fasting or charity. Pakistani Muslims in the diaspora can wield much influence through their connections and networks. In the hallowed name of the Prophet, they must help rescue these Hindu girls not because it is politically expedient to do so, but simply based on the recognition that these girls are their own daughters and sisters.
The Jewish and Muslim communities have recently expressed international outrage and concern about a German court ruling that apparently limits the freedom of those wishing to practice a ritual circumcision. Any attack upon this ritual should be viewed -- and has historically been viewed -- as an existential attack upon the Jewish people. But it is not entirely clear that circumcision is under attack in Germany...
I am a Canadian Muslim woman and have had the privilege of calling Canada my home since 1984. I strongly believe that as a Muslim I have every right to question my faith, to arrive at my own unique understanding of it, and to practice it according to my very own sensibilities as a unique human being. For that I am grateful to my adoptive country, Canada.
Bruce Crumley writes in Time magazine: "In a free society, a newspaper can ridicule and stigmatize whomever (sic) it chooses, except those who demonstrate a willingness to respond with violence." Self-censorship is the order of the day -- something not unknown in the Canadian media when it comes to Islamic extremists.