Making Peace Vigil

Standing up for peace

STOPPING ANTI-MUSLIM RACISM

Posted by strattof on February 16, 2017

On January 29, 2017, a gunman opened fire in a Quebec City mosque, killing six men: Mamadou Tanou Barry, Ibrahima Barry, Khaled Belkacemi, Abdelkrim Hassane, Azzeddine Soufiane, and Aboubaker Thabti. These men were killed because of their religion. 17 children lost their father to this act of hateful violence.

We at Making Peace Vigil extend our sympathies to the families of the men who were killed. In this time of terror, we stand in solidarity with Muslim communities in Regina and throughout Canada.

But expressions of sympathy and solidarity are not enough. We must all actively struggle against anti-Muslim racism, also known as Islamophobia.

HOME-GROWN RACISM

THE SUSPECT

The lone suspect in the shootings is a young, white, Christian, Canadian man and a student at Laval University. He is charged with six counts of first-degree murder.

NOT OUT OF THE BLUE

This act of terror did not come out of the blue. It occurred in a climate of increasing hate and fear, with many powerful members of our society promoting intolerance of Muslims.

CULTIVATION OF HATE & FEAR

It is not just that President Donald Trump’s hateful anti-Muslim rhetoric is crossing the border. Canada has produced plenty of its own anti-Muslim racist rhetoric. For example:

2013   The Parti Québécois proposed Charter of Quebec Values recommending a ban on public sector employees wearing “conspicuous” religious symbols—i.e. head or face coverings.

2015   The Barbaric Cultural Practices Act passed into law by the Harper government, supported by the Liberals: It’s still law.

2015   Saskatchewan talk show host John Gormley’s tweet encouraging the murder of Muslims

2016   Parti Québécois leader Jean-François Lisée’s suggestion that an assault rifle could be hidden under a burka

2016   Conservative party leadership candidate Kelly Leitch’s proposal to vet immigrants for their “Canadian values”

Such anti-Muslim rhetoric helps fuel hate crimes, such as the Quebec City massacre.

NOT AN ISOLATED INCIDENT

Nor is the Quebec City shooting an isolated incident. Hate crimes against Muslims are on the rise in Canada. For example:

  • In 2015, a mosque in Peterborough Ontario was firebombed.
  • In 2016, a man showed a noose to two Muslim women waiting at a transit station in Edmonton and sang “O Canada.”
  • Six months before the Quebec City shooting, a pig’s head was placed at the door of the same mosque during Ramadan.

TRUMP & TRUDEAU

When President Trump imposed his Muslim ban, indefinitely barring Syrian refugees and blocking citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries from admission to the US, Prime Minister Trudeau was quick to respond with a tweet saying refugees are welcome in Canada: “To those fleeing persecution, terror & war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of faith. Diversity is our strength #WelcomeToCanada.” These are wonderful words!

But words need to be backed up with action. If Trudeau’s heart-felt declaration is going to have any real meaning, changes will have to be made to Canada’s refugee and immigration system, in particular to the Safe Third Country agreement and the cap on private sponsorships. 

SAFE THIRD COUNTRY AGREEMENT

Signed by Canada and the US in 2002, the Safe Third Country agreement requires refugees to make asylum claims “in the first safe country they arrive in.” 

The Agreement is the reason that asylum seekers coming from the US have been entering Canada illegally by walking across the border. If they try to cross legally, they will be turned back to the US where they are likely to face detention and deportation.  

So desperate are some asylum seekers that they have attempted the journey in -20° weather. Two nearly froze to death. One has lost his hands to frost bite, another most of his fingers.  

Repeal the Safe Third Country Agreement! So far, the Trudeau government has declined to do so—making a mockery of the Prime Minister’s tweet that refugees are welcome in Canada.    

CAP ON PRIVATELY SPONSORED REFUGEES

In December 2016, the Trudeau government placed a cap of 1,000 on privately sponsored Syrian and Iraqi refugees for 2017. The cap exposes the hypocrisy of Trudeau’s tweet claiming that Canada welcomes refugees.

Lift the cap! So far the Trudeau government has declined to do so.

STOPPING ANTI-MUSLIM RACISM

  • Let Prime Minister Trudeau know you want his government to repeal the Safe Third Country Agreement and to lift the cap on privately sponsored refugees: trudeau@parl.gc.ca or 613-995-0253.
  • Send the same message to Minister of Immigration, Ahmed Hussen: Hussen@parl.gc.ca or 613-954-1064.
  • Ask your MP to support Motion 103, calling on the federal government to study ways in which the government can reduce or eliminate systemic racism and religious discrimination in Canada, including Islamophobia. Full text available at: https://www.nccm.ca/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/ENGLISH-LETTER-WITH-SIGNATORIES.pdf

Ralph Goodale: ralph.goodale@parl.gc.ca or 613-947-1153

Andrew Scheer: andrew.scheer@parl.gc.ca or 613-992-4593

Erin Weir: erin.weir@parl.gc.ca or 613-992-9115

  • Learn more about Islamophobia. Visit the website of the National Council of Canadian Muslims: https://www.nccm.ca/
  • Counter Islamophobia wherever you find it. Find ways to do so without giving offence.

UNITED AGAINST ISLAMOPHOBIA

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