THE CANADIAN PRESS
C/O Patrick Erlich
"We welcome you. We love you. We support you — we believe in your rights."
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When I was a young child I remember watching my dad as his headaches would start. His eyes would begin to glaze over. In those moments, my dad would regress to a terrified six-year-old boy, speaking in whispered tones in his native Yiddish, begging his sister to be quiet as they hid from the Nazis in a Belgian church.
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Unfortunately, the absence of a clearly identified clergy in the Muslim world (particularly in the Sunni world) does not favour a reform of Islam. To reform this religion, the various representatives of Islam all around the world should cooperate, coordinate their action to find common ground on major issues.
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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.
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There needs to be a concerted effort to confront the rise of prejudice that was encouraged by the Conservatives in their bid for re-election. Although Steven Harper has been defeated, the lingering "permission" given to bigotry needs to be challenged in every workplace and community across Canada. Canadians have never been immune to the corrosive influences of racism and anti-Semitism. At this point in history we are called upon to specifically challenge Islamophobia. The fact is that our Muslim brothers and sisters have been made to feel defensive about their faith and unsure of how their neighbours accept them.
While we may find that there are some dangerous strangers, to decide that we should make negative assumptions about everyone we do not know is downright foolish. It is time to go back to celebrating the fact that our Canada is a welcoming and tolerant country in which we raise our children to respect and include all of us.
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Kim Davis, claimed that her "conscience will not allow" her to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples -- In late August, a Calgary a bus driver named Jesse Rau refused to drive the Calgary Transit's rainbow bus. Both individuals raised religious objections. These are interesting normative positions. Can an individual refuse to obey a law if it conflicts with their personal interpretation of a religion? Does it matter if the individual is an elected official or a private citizen? To sort this out, let us engage in a thought experiment.
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Often two individuals or groups who detest each other have more in common than they'd like to admit. Islam's lunatic fringe and their comrade Islamophobes are such bedfellows. And their supporters, who intellectualize to legitimate their xenophobias are just as much mirror images of each other.
Horrific and murderous events in France and Nigeria have, once again, led us to examine the relationship between religion and violent conflict. But this framing, while commonplace, is simplistic and incorrect. The religious texts and teachings of spiritual leaders from any major religion are resolute in their condemnation of violence as a means to fulfilling objectives of any scale. When reviewing the source material one finds there is no rational relationship between religion and conflict. In fact, religion is a pretext for cooperation, not conflict.
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Perhaps there is an element to which the Conservatives truly believe they are fighting a cultural and religious practice that they find repugnant. Even still, that seems far beyond the point, as has been stated many times by various commentators: a conservative man forcing a woman not to wear a niqab is effectively the same violation of her liberty as a conservative man forcing her to wear the niqab. What could be more Canadian than including someone's harmless religious practices in a citizenship ceremony, or really any other facet of public life?
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A guy who you think is attractive but who has some unsuitable personality traits comes up and asks you out. You say yes, even though what you really meant to say was no. "Why did I do that?" you wonder. According to new research from the University of Toronto and Yale University, rejecting unsuitable romantic partners is easy in hypothetical situations, but not so when considering a face-to-face proposition.
The problem today is not that religion still exists or that some people are religious.The problem lies in the animosity that persists between the different religions. The reality is that religious diversity is not likely to disappear. Acceptance and encouragement of coexistence between all religions is what will bring us toward a more peaceful society.
Halloween celebrations are cancelled at one Ontario school. No candy, no costumes, no fun. The reasoning behind this puzzling decision is supposedly one of inclusiveness, according to school administrators. The decision of the school board to cave in to these demands is political correctness on steroids.
Our public servants are already subject to a code of ethics that requires them to not make decisions based on religious prejudice (as well as gender, race, or sexual orientation). The Marois government says it is not enough and wants government employees to hide their affiliation with a particular religion. This idea is not only flawed, but it lacks core empirical proof to justify its existence.
Most Canadians probably do not know what blasphemy is, let alone that publishing blasphemous materials is still a criminal offence in this country. But there is some irony here, because the Canadian government publicly defends the freedom to publish cartoons that mock a religious figure and looks abroad to protect religious minorities from oppression while at the same time punishing that at home.
Fifty years ago today, the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave his famous "I Have A Dream" speech. But today Dr. King's call to freedom and liberty might be considered inconsistent with "Quebec values." Quebec Premier Pauline Marois is an avowed separatist pursuing this agenda by unusual means: a series of xenophobic policies that is ostracizing Quebec from the 21st century mainstream. The civil rights struggle of our time is to insist that the only valid standard is the content of our own character, and not our religious clothing, celebration of particular holidays, or the language we speak at work and at home.
The so-called "charter of values" being contemplated by our provincial government would make a mockery of the free and open society that many of Quebec's nationalist leaders have been promoting for decades. It would force religious Quebecers "into the closet", and send the message that religious adherence is something to be ashamed of. Moreover, if religious symbols are barred from the public sphere, they and those who wear them will be rendered even more foreign and separate from the majority. Far from encouraging integration, therefore, such a ban would reinforce divisions based on religious affiliation.
If we want our own children to learn to be courageous defenders of rights, we must first engage them in thinking critically about those rights. While adults may feel uncomfortable talking to children about the place of religion in society, we can still teach our children that people whose beliefs and practices differ from their own are deserving of respect and understanding.
How can the adherent of any religion (or even the atheist) -- who believes that his faith (or lack thereof) defines the true reality and offers the correct perspective on what is ethically and morally correct -- even accept a value of freedom of religion when it permits behaviour that this person deems incorrect?
Congratulations to the members of Al Rashid Mosque for their mailout of a beautiful brochure on Islam to all of Edmonton and area. I especially appreciate their renouncing of Jihad as bombing and terrorism. (If I could afford it I would send a copy of this brochure to every member of the current terrorist government of Iran who have publicly threatened to kill the people of Israel.)
It would seem that marriage is some form of societal construct that allows for two individuals to create some type of life partnership and, in a gestalt manner, to be legally recognized as such. The result is that in an array of legal matters -- from taxation to insurance to inheritance -- these individuals are now perceived within the rules of this partnership.
The reality is that society saw in the marital unit a structure that was beneficial to society, for one reason or another, and so it responded accordingly. The fact is, though, that changes in society have made marriage irrelevant in regard to those original benefits to society.
I was recently invited to debate Pastor Ted Haggard regarding whether a state should allow same-sex marriages or not. To me, the issue of same-sex marriage is not one of individual rights but, rather, involves the fine and detailed structure of society. The marital unit is the building block of society and its re-classification to include the same-sex couple is not just a matter of a simple change of definition.
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.
The Catholic school boards take our taxpayer money and use that to create environments that disregard the rights and values that bind us together as a province and nation. As long as we're the ones footing the bill for your little 'God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve' sideshow, there is no debate.