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Archive for March, 2016

STOP ISLAMOPHOBIA

Posted by strattof on March 24, 2016

Islamophobia: hostility toward Islam and Muslims; prejudice against or fear of Islam and Muslims; anti-Muslim racism.

In 1997, the Runnymede Trust, a British anti-racist research institute, published a report on Islamophobia, which it defined as “an outlook or world-view involving an unfounded dread and dislike of Muslims.” The report shows how Islamophobia has four distinct, but inter-connected and mutually reinforcing aspects: social exclusion, violence, prejudice, and discrimination.

In 2001, the Stockholm International Forum on Combating Intolerance recognized Islamophobia as a form of racism alongside xenophobia and anti-Semitism.

In 2004, Kofi Annan told a UN conference on Islamophobia that “when the world is compelled to coin a new term to take account of increasingly widespread bigotry, that is a sad and troubling development. Such is the case with Islamophobia.”

ISLAMOPHOBIA: RECENT EXAMPLES

INTERNATIONAL

  • The cartoon in Charlie Hebdo predicting drowned Syrian toddler Alan Kurdi would grow up to be a sex offender
  • Donald Trump’s call for all Muslims to be banned from the US

NATIONAL

  • Stephen Harper’s opportunistic attack on Muslims during the election, which included a condemnation of the niqab, the creation of a tip line to report “barbaric cultural practices,” and a “none is too many” Syrian refugee policy

LOCAL

  • Talk show host John Gormley’s tweet encouraging the murder of Muslims
  • Premier Brad Wall’s identification of Syrian refugees with terrorism

ISLAMOPHOBIA: CONSEQUENCES

Promoting anti-Muslim fear and hatred, such Islamophobic views have real consequences for all Canadians. They lay the groundwork for:

  • ANTI-MUSLIM HATE CRIMES AND INCIDENTS: Such crimes and incidents have increased around the country, putting Muslim Canadians at risk of random acts of violence. Examples from the last eight months include:

-A physical assault on a pregnant Muslim woman in Montreal

-An attack on a niqab-wearing women in Toronto

-Hateful online comments posted to the story about the arrival of a Syrian refugee in Regina

-Pepper spraying of Syrian refugees in Vancouver

-Anti-Muslim messages spray-painted on the walls of a Calgary school

For more examples visit the National Council of Canadian Muslim’s online map of anti-Muslim hate-crime and incidents: http://www.nccm.ca/

  • ENDLESS WAR AGAINST MUSLIM COUNTRIES: Afghanistan, Libya, Iraq, Syria–Canada has now been at war in Muslim countries for 13 years without a break.

AM I ISLAMOPHOBIC? A TEST

According to the Runnymede report, if my answer to any of the following questions is “yes,” then I am being Islamophobic.

  1. Do I see Islam as a single unity, static and unchanging?
  2. Do I see Islam as separate and other–not having any aims or values in common with other cultures?
  3. Do I view Islam as inferior to the West—barbaric, irrational, and sexist?
  4. Do I view Islam as violent, aggressive, threatening, and supportive of terrorism?
  5. Do I see Islam as a political ideology, used for political or military advantage?
  6. Do I reject out of hand criticisms made of “the West” by Muslims?
  7. Do I use hostility towards Islam to justify discriminatory practices towards Muslims and exclusion of Muslims from mainstream society?
  8. Do I accept anti-Muslim hostility as natural and normal?

2 ISLAMOPHOBIC STEREOTYPES

  • The oppressed Muslim woman: The media focuses almost exclusively on the abuse of Muslim women’s rights, while rarely making mention of the accomplishments of Muslim women. Here are the names of four Muslim Canadian women we should all be familiar with but probably aren’t: Zarqa Nawaz, Monia Mazigh, Rukhsana Khan, Sheema Khan.
  • The inherently violent Muslim man: Like most non-Muslim men, most Muslim men hold ordinary jobs and value family and friends. They are not any more violent than non-Muslim men. Much of the violence in today’s world is directed at Muslims by non-Muslims. Between 2012 and 2015, anti-Muslim hate crimes in Canada doubled.

These stereotypes are mobilized to justify western wars in Muslim countries.

  • Hence, we were told that Canada was fighting in Afghanistan in order to liberate Afghan women.
  • Now we are being told the “war on terror” must never end.

TAKE ACTION: CHECK YOUR ISLAMOPHOBIA

March 21st was International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. Let’s mark the occasion by checking our Islamophobia.

Canadian culture is saturated with Islamophobia. Almost all of us are infected with it. What can we do about it?

  1. Think critically. Question our own assumptions.
  2. Read against the grain. Look for contradictions. For example, the Canadian government imposed sanctions on Iran for its supposed nuclear weapons program, but it never raises the issue of the US’s huge stockpile of nuclear weaponry or of Israel’s undeclared arsenal of nuclear weapons.
  3. Raise the subject of Islamophobia with family, friends, and colleagues.
  4. Call out Islamophobic statements and assumptions wherever we encounter them. Learn to do so in a manner that provokes thought rather than anger.
  5. Seek out progressive voices: Regina’s own Zarqa Nawaz, as well as Rukhsana Khan, Sheema Kahn, Monia Mazigh, Chris Hedges, Robert Fisk, Glen Greenwald, the late Edward Said.
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WAGE PEACE NOT WAR

Posted by strattof on March 17, 2016

Kudos to the Trudeau government for keeping its election promise to stop Canadian bombing in Syria. But are the “sunny ways” of our new government really that much different from the Harper government’s blatant-war-mongering?

Sadly, the Liberal government is not working for peace. In fact, it is expanding Canada’s military mission in Iraq and Syria.

  • Bombing mission: A Canadian refueling aircraft and two surveillance aircraft will remain in the region to assist with the bombing campaign = deputized bombing.
  • Training mission: The size of the Canadian training mission will triple, increasing from 69 – 207. These are Canadian soldiers who will train Iraqi soldiers to kill.
  • Deadly weapons: Canada will, for the first time, provide Iraqi forces with weapons, including machine guns and mortars.
  • Endless war: The mission has been officially extended until March 2017. However, it is not scheduled to be evaluated until 2018 and has been budgeted over a three-year period = 2019.

Although the details are sketchy, the Liberal plan also includes an increase in humanitarian aid and in diplomatic efforts to find a negotiated solution to the conflict.

GIVE PEACE A CHANCE!

WHAT IS DAESH (ISIS)?

Daesh* is a direct result of the 2003 US invasion and occupation of Iraq. It developed out of an al-Qaida affiliate that came into existence in reaction to the American invasion. It includes former military leaders from Saddam Hussein’s army who lost their positions under the US military occupation.

Under Saddam, Sunnis held all key positions in the Iraqi government and military. After toppling Saddam, the US removed all Saddam appointees from power and replaced them with Shia politicians and military leaders. Then, after the 2006 elections, the US threw its support behind the Shia dominated government of Nouri al Malaki and its policy of Sunni marginalization. Owing to this policy, Daesh grew significantly.

Thanks also to the US, Daesh has very sophisticated weaponry. It captured hundreds of millions of dollars of US military equipment from the Iraqi Security Forces. It also has weapons supplied by the US to rebels in Syria trying to overthrow the Assad regime.

*Following the lead of the Toronto Star, the vigil is adopting the term Daesh as the most accurate and appropriate term to describe the group that calls itself ISIS. Daesh is the long-form Arabic title of the group: al-Dawla al-Islamiya fi al-Iraq wa al-Sham.

FUTILITY OF WAR

Will western military operations against Daesh bring about any good outcome? Have the first 13 years of the “war on terror” had a beneficial outcome?

  • Descent into murderous chaos in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya: Where is the promised freedom and democracy?
  • Immense human suffering: Thousands of civilians have been killed since the airstrikes began in September 2014. Many more have been injured. Whole cities have been reduced to rubble. Millions of people have become refugees.
  • Endless war in the whole Middle East region.
  • More violence, more death, more suffering, more refugees.

THE COSTS OF WAR

The costs paid by the people in the war zone are horrendous: death, injury, trauma, bereavement, displacement.

We in Canada also pay a high price:

  • 162 Canadians died in the war in Afghanistan.
  • 1 in 10 Canadian veterans of that war suffer from PTSD.
  • 62 Canadian veterans of the Afghan war have committed suicide.
  • There are also financial costs to Canadians:
  •     Afghanistan: $18 billion
  • Libya: $347 million
  • Iraq-Syria 2014 – 2015: $528 million
  • Iraq-Syria 2016 – 2019: $1.6 billion.

That’s a lot of money! It could have been spent instead on education, affordable housing, healthcare, and clean drinking water for all Canadians.

ENDLESS WAR: WHO BENEFITS?

  • War is big business. It is very profitable for Canadian arms manufacturers, making them $12.6 billion in annual revenues, approximately 50% of which comes from international sales.
  • Who loses? Ordinary citizens everywhere!

W A G E   P E A C E

  • Let Prime Minister Trudeau know you want Canada to work for peace in Iraq and Syria. Sign the enclosed postcard.
  • Give the postcard to one of us to mail or drop it in a mailbox. Mail to the Prime Minister does not require postage.

RALLY FOR PEACE: CANADA OUT OF IRAQ AND SYRIA

DATE:    MARCH 19—anniversary of the 2003 invasion of Iraq

TIME:     1 pm

PLACE: PEACE FOUNTAIN, CITY HALL 

A gathering with songs and speakers and one clear message:

NO MORE ENDLESS WAR!

 

 

Sponsored by PeaceQuest Regina, Making Peace Vigil, & Regina Peace Council

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TRUTH AND RECONCILIATION

Posted by strattof on March 10, 2016

The report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) is heart-wrenching and damning. The result of a six-year study of the history and legacy of Indian residential schools, which included archival research and the testimony of 6,750 residential school survivors, the report documents

  • The brutal truth about Canada’s residential school system;
  • The appalling treatment of Indigenous children at the schools;
  • The far-reaching consequences of the abuses; and
  • The continuation of the abuse today.

The report also tells us what we must do to repair this historical and on-going wrong.

The work of the TRC is over. The work of Canada and Canadians must begin.

THE TRUTH 

  • Canada’s residential school system was established in the 1880s. Funded by the federal government, the schools were run by Christian churches, primarily Catholic, Anglican, Methodist, Presbyterian, and United. The last residential school, Gordon’s School in Punnichy SK, closed in 1996.
  • In his 1879 report to John A. Macdonald, Nicholas Flood Davin (after whom a Regina elementary school is named) recommended the establishment of a residential school system to “aggressively civilize” Indigenous children. As the TRC report puts it: “The residential school system was based on an assumption that European civilization and Christian religions were superior to Aboriginal culture” (4).
  • In 1920, attendance at the schools became compulsory for all Indigenous children between the ages of seven and 16.
  • More than 150,000 children attended the schools, many of them forcibly removed from their families.
  • Mental, emotional, physical, and sexual abuse was rife at the schools. Food was often insufficient and of poor quality. In most cases, schools were poorly maintained and overcrowded.
  • At least 6,000 children died at the schools from malnutrition, disease, and abuse ‒ a higher death rate than that of Canadians who enlisted to fight in World War II. Many of the children were buried unceremoniously in unmarked graves.

GENOCIDE

“The establishment and operation of residential schools were a central element of [Canada’s Aboriginal policy], which can best be described as ‘cultural genocide’” (TRC 1).

Genocide, as defined by the United Nations, includes:

  • Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group;
  • Causing severe bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
  • Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part.

“The Canadian government pursued this policy of cultural genocide because it wished to divest itself of its legal and financial obligations to Aboriginal people and gain control over their land and resources” (TRC 3).

THE LEGACY

The legacy of the schools remains. The consequences include:

  • The significant gap in education, income, and health between Indigenous peoples and non-Indigenous Canadians;
  • The over-representation of Indigenous children in state care;
  • The high incarceration rates of Indigenous people;
  • The disproportionate number of Indigenous women who are murdered or go missing.

The legacy also includes:

  • The racism many Canadians harbour against Indigenous peoples;
  • On-going systemic racism, evident in ●33% – 50% less funding for First Nations schools ●22% – 34% less funding for First Nations child welfare services ●housing shortages and substandard, over-crowded living conditions on First Nations ●139 Drinking Water Advisories in effect in 94 First Nations communities lack of respect for First Nations Treaty rights ● the granting of state access to Indigenous lands and resources.

RECONCILIATION

We now all know the truth. Reconciliation requires individual and collective action. Here are eight key recommendations taken from the TRC report:

  1. Reduce the number of Indigenous children in care.
  2. Close the health gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities.
  3. Eliminate the overrepresentation of Indigenous people in custody.
  4. Fully adopt and implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
  5. Provide education to public servants on the history of Indigenous peoples, including the history and legacy of residential schools.
  6. Make teaching about residential schools and Indigenous history mandatory in the public education system, K – 12.
  7. Implement procedures for the ongoing identification, documentation, maintenance, commemoration, and protection of residential school cemeteries.
  8. Install a publicly accessible, highly visible, Residential Schools Monument in each capital city.

TAKE ACTION

  • In the run-up to the provincial election, ask candidates how their party intends to implement the recommendations of the TRC. All eight recommendations listed on the previous page include provincial governments in the calls to action. Make TRC recommendations an election issue!
  • Make the TRC report a selection for your book club. It’s available in book form under the title Final Report: Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, Volume I. It is also available online. Google “honouring the truth, reconciling for the future.”
  • Recommend the TRC report for CBC’s 2017 Canada Reads. The TRC report is, indeed, the “one book all Canadians should read”! http://www.cbc.ca/books/contact /

Without truth, justice, and healing, there can be no genuine reconciliation. Reconciliation is not about ‘closing a sad chapter of Canada’s past,’ but about opening new healing pathways of reconciliation that are forged in truth and justice”(TRC 12).

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PROVINCIAL ELECTION: 5 QUESTIONS TO ASK CANDIDATES

Posted by strattof on March 1, 2016

  1. Will your party stop squandering taxpayers’ money on the Boundary Dam carbon capture facility?

$1.5 billion has already been spent on this project and it doesn’t work.

  • It has only been able to achieve its target of capturing 90% of emissions for very short periods.
  • 55% of the time it doesn’t work at all.

And because it doesn’t work, SaskPower has had to pay Cenovus Energy $12 million in penalties for failing to deliver the agreed-upon quantity of carbon dioxide. That’s our money too!

But even if it did work, the Boundary Dam project would still be a boondoggle. Its purpose is to green-wash the coal and oil industries by ►capturing 90% of the CO2 emissions from the coal-fueled Boundary Dam Power Plant and ►piping it in compressed form to Cenovus’s Weyburn oil field to be used to increase the amount of crude that can be removed.

To avoid the worst effects of climate change, 75% of fossil fuel reserves must remain in the ground, say leading scientists.

  1. Will you speak out against the Energy East pipeline?

TransCanada’s proposed Energy East pipeline cuts right through Regina in the Harbour Landing area. The pipeline would carry 1.1 million barrels of tar sands oil a day.

PROBLEMS

  • TransCanada has a poor safety record. Its first Keystone pipeline, built in 2010, had 12 spills in its first year of operation.
  • Energy East is also an environmental hazard. Its purpose is to expand Canadian tar sands production—the main cause of increasing carbon emissions in Canada.
  • At the December 2015 Paris climate conference, Canada promised to cut carbon emissions by 30% from 2005 levels by 2030.

Climate leadership means saying ‘no’ to tar sands pipelines and ‘yes’ to developing a sustainable green economy.

  1. How does your party intend to implement the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission?

Many of the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission include provincial governments in the calls to action. Here are three of them:

#1: Reduce the number of Aboriginal children in care.

#30: Eliminate the overrepresentation of Aboriginal people in custody.

#43: Fully adopt and implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

All Canadians must make a firm and lasting commitment to reconciliation to ensure that Canada is a country where our children and grandchildren can thrive.”—TRC 364

  1. Where does your party stand on prison privatization?

As part of its prison privatization scheme, in 2015 the Wall government privatized prison food services, contracting out meal preparation to Compass Group, a for-profit, multi-national corporation. Now meals for Saskatchewan’s prison population are prepared in Alberta and trucked in frozen.

Since food privatization took effect, prisoners at Regina’s Correctional Centre have gone on four hunger strikes, citing concerns about food quality and quantity.

CHARTER RIGHT

Adequate food of reasonable quality is a Charter right, under section 12, banning cruel and unusual punishment.

REHABILITATION

Nutritious food is an essential part of prisoner rehabilitation and brings lasting benefits to prisoners and society.

COLONIAL SETTLER SOCIETY POLICIES

The privatization of prison food services must also be seen in its particular cultural and historical context:

  1. The demographics of Saskatchewan’s prison population = 80% – 90% Indigenous.
  2. Its relationship to other colonial settler society polices using food to weaken and control Indigenous peoples: ►John A. Macdonald’s starvation policy, implemented in 1878, to force Indigenous peoples into submission ►inadequate diets at residential schools that undermined the health of generations of Indigenous children.
  3. The call of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission for re-conciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples.

PREMIER BRAD WALL’S COLONIAL MINDSET

Brad Wall’s response to the prisoners’ concerns? “If you really don’t like the prison food, there’s one way to avoid it, and that’s don’t go to prison.” Wall would be well-advised to read the report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

  1. If elected, will your party ban the police practice of carding?

Carding—also known as street checks—is the police practice of randomly stopping people for questioning when there is no reason to do so.

The “card” in carding refers to the contact cards police create on individuals they stop. The information on these cards gets entered in a police data base where it stays indefinitely.

PROBLEMS

  • Statistics show that so-called “random” stops always end up targeting racialized and marginalized people. In Regina, the practice is an excuse for harassing Indigenous people.
  • The information on the data base becomes the basis for further police harassment.

 

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