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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?
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"We have those two devils within our society: racism and xenophobia. They exist," said Philippe Couillard.
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"One day she broke down, the comments made her drown."
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"These same people we're bringing into Canada ... are the main victims of these terrorist groups."
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.
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.
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.
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Yaser Louati said French Muslims could not take responsibility for "someone who just claims to be Muslim."
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"They cannot separate us."
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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.
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The act of madness is followed by a wave of madness, where states are bombed to rubble and the cycle of irrational thinking becomes the rule that governs the game. I wish, as we utilize our resources to discuss issues facing our societies, we could do the same with these acts of violence so that we can discover a solution.
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The Alberta battleground riding of Edmonton-Mill Woods became one of only two ridings in the city and one of only four ridings in the province to go Liberal. For the first time in a decade, Edmonton-Mill Woods is not a Conservative domain. This is only one example of a larger trend across Canada.
How can Muslim LGBT lead the dialogue if a majority amongst them segregate their lives from conservative spaces? The importance of dialogue within conservative Muslim communities cannot be over-emphasized. Such a dialogue will have to be part of a much-needed internal critique, for outside solutions may be rejected as anti-Muslim bigotry.
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On Sept. 17 a group of prominent Arab and Muslim organizations from across Canada got together and sent a letter* to the leaders of the five main federal parties: Conservatives, NDP, Liberals, Bloc Quebecois and Green Party.
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New journeys often create surprises. Over the last few months, as I've gotten increasingly stuck on issues of Islamophobia and the fringe, extremist xenophobia in the Muslim world, this journey has been true to form. I've been struck by both the similarities between the two hate camps and their sheer resilience.
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In an email this week to members of the Muslim community, Staff-Sgt. David Zackrias urged the reporting of all forms of abuse.
What is most telling is that even given the divisive and downright xenophobic campaign the Conservatives have run thus far, they are still within striking distance to form government. This carefully crafted U.S.-style Republican narrative has set Canada on an extremely dangerous course, and one that only Canadian voters can steer back to the right path. From "old stock Canadians" deserving of greater government benefits, to the ridiculous niqab debate, to the absurd hotline dedicated to reporting "culturally barbaric" practices, the Conservatives are pulling no punches in their quest to mobilize their voter base.
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Those who oppose the ban shouldn't insist that it's so obvious a rights violation that it doesn't merit explanation. It is impudent to simply dismiss a large majority of Canadians who support the idea of a niqab ban at a citizenship ceremony, as misguided as that may be.
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Be aware that, in our midst, a group of Canadian citizens are being dehumanized. History has shown us over and over again that this leads to oppression, hatred, and violence. Move past your knee-jerk reaction of protectionism. Don't be fooled by rhetoric. Understand that to that Muslim woman wearing the niqab, not being able to choose what she wears is oppression, even if it makes you personally uncomfortable.
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With Canada's federal election less than two weeks away, I felt it important to address a highly topical matter: the Conservatives' close relations with the controversial Jewish Defense League. In 2001, after it had engaged in a series of bombings, an assassination, and several other violent incidents, the JDL was labeled a "violent extremist Jewish organization" and a "right-wing terrorist group" by the FBI.
The issue here is that such a tip line will do nothing but draw deeper lines in the ground between race, religion, and so on. We will notice that "barbaric cultural practices" is a purposefully vague descriptor that could encompass a plethora of different acts, yet Canadians are only left guessing as to what Kellie Leitch and her party would classify as such practices. This proposed tip line has already been compared by some to similar situations in place in interwar Germany and the Soviet Union.
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The motion condemns Islamophobia towards Muslim Quebecers, in particular Syrian refugees.
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Stop with the ignorant posts, people. Think about it before you blindly share some meme, or post that's not even accurate. You sound stupid. We share this planet with 7 billion other people -- some estimates suggest that 2.2 billion of them are Muslim. Enough with the "If we went to your country, we'd have to live by your rules." Stop. Muslim is not a country. I'm sorry if pointing out your religious intolerance has offended you, but it was the same type of ignorance and vitriol that eventually caused the slaughter of millions of Jews in the Second World War. Before you're too quick to defend your hate speech, marinate in that for a minute and think about if you want to contribute to that kind of hate.
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In an odd twist of fate, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi decided to have a change of heart and "pardon" three Al Jazeera journalists including Canadian journalist Mohamed Fahmy. Whether Sisi was feeling charitable on the eve of the Muslim holiday of Eid-Ul-Adha or wanted to improve his faltering global reputation before his visit to the United Nations is unknown.
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The timing for the image of Muslims to change from fire-breathing jihadi terrorists, frothing at the mouth to actual human beings could not have been worse. This election was supposed to be about economic renewal and getting tough on crime and instead we are in a recession and the papers are full of stories about Muslims drowning in the sea.
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We have seen how "Islamicism" has become a convenient tool for the government to employ a more aggressive foreign policy. Although it's easy for Canadian Muslims to lay blame on the Conservatives and Stephen Harper for such discriminatory and exploitative tactics (and doing so would be justifiable), it would also be disingenuous. The current situation is simply a culmination of years of political apathy from the Muslim community whose voter turnout is consistently below the national average.
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The past year has been a very active one for the anti-Islam industry in Canada. Leading the charge is none other than Prime Minister Stephen Harper who -- in gearing up to the elections in October 2015 -- has been stoking Islamophobia by pandering to public unease about Muslims.
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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.
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According to the most recent Canadian census, Canada has more than one million Muslims citizens--they're our country's fastest growing religious population.. Yet sadly, when we searched Canadian news using the keywords "young Muslim," seven of the top 10 articles that came up concerned violence and radicalism.
In both the U.S. and Canada, Muslims face real scrutiny, fanned by politicians out to earn xenophobic votes and media folk out to sell copies. North American society, on both sides of the border, needs to get to grips with five key misconceptions if it wants to contribute to a clean, prejudice-free society.