In Toronto, this past June, Faith McGregor, walked into the Terminal Barber shop owned by Omar Mahrouk and asked for a haircut. Mahrouk said his barber shop did not serve women. McGregor's decision to file a complaint against Mahrouk was the right one. This is something that should not happen here in Canada.
The American Presidential election between Republican Candidate, Mitt Romney and incumbent Democratic Candidate President Barack Obama, takes place in only a two days on November 6, 2012. Its outcome may result in a remarkably different future for many. What happens in the U.S. affects us all -- both here in Canada and overseas. As a Muslim Canadian woman, I wonder, what is on the mind of a Muslim American woman right now?
To my fellow Muslims -- the 99 per cent who are peaceful -- here is my message. Online articles, information and resources, including amateur video productions, are everywhere. "Policing" opinions on religious matters is unrealistic in most instances. But some of you say "Innocence of Muslims" is a special case and should be banned. Personally, I disagree. The video should not be banned, nor should any video that one finds disturbing because of its anti-Islamic, anti-Semitic, anti-Christian or anti-religious content. Why? For a number of reasons.
An 11-year-old Pakistani girl with Downs Syndrome might be put to death for blasphemy. Killing people for expressing negative and/or dissenting views on religion, for burning Qurans, for writing letters -- is this Islam? No. In Islam, a law that penalizes a person for challenging or disparaging the religion -- is blasphemy itself.
Is domestic terrorism, instigated by white supremacists, such as Breivik, on the rise? Recently, more incidents of hate crimes are reported to be taking place, with alarming frequency. There have been at least seven reports of hate crimes targeting Muslims and mosques in the last 10 days in the United States. Here in Canada we look down at the U.S. and say, "well, everything is worse down there, more guns, more violence, more racism." Not so fast. According to Statistics Canada figures from 2009, the frequency of hate crimes are up.
Yesterday in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, seven people were killed and a number injured, including a police officer, when a gunman, named Wade Michael Page stormed a congregation of five hundred people at an American Sikh gudwara. While we and other faith groups dug into our hearts in this manner, the Westboro Baptist Church representative Fred Phelps tweeted: "Beautiful work of an angry God who told Wisconsin to keep their filthy hands off his people." No. Before we are Muslims, Christians, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, B'hai, Jain, Zoroastrian, Aboriginal, Wiccan, Humanist and Sikh -- we are human. God only cares about the way in which we treat one another.