Tory opposition to Islamophobia motion is stoking prejudice
Conservative MPs are stoking a wave of anti-Muslim sentiment by raising unfounded fears about a motion calling on the House of Commons to condemn Islamophobia, a Canadian Muslim leader said Tuesday.
Samer Majzoub, president of the Canadian Muslim Forum, said the Conservatives are trying to “delegitimize” and “degrade” the Liberal motion by presenting an alternative motion of their own that condemns all forms of racism, intolerance and discrimination against Muslims, Jews, Christians, Sikhs, Hindus and other religious groups — without mentioning the word Islamophobia.
A few hours after Majzoub spoke at a news conference, the Conservative motion was defeated by a vote of 165-126, with the governing Liberals using their majority to block a united opposition party front in favour of the motion.
Majzoub told the news conference that Muslim Canadians are increasingly suffering prejudice and acts of hatred — including a deadly shooting spree at a Quebec mosque last month that left six worshippers dead — and that the problem can’t be tackled until it’s recognized for what it is: Islamophobia.
Conservative MPs have argued that the Liberal motion singles out one religious group over others and could potentially curtail Canadians’ freedom to criticize any aspect of Islam because it doesn’t define the term Islamophobia.
Majzoub said those arguments are unfounded and are helping fuel anti-Muslim sentiment.
“The fact that it was approached by some of the Opposition in this way has created all (these) xenophobic waves,” Majzoub told The Canadian Press after the news conference.
“Certainly, it did not help, the way they approached it.”
Majzoub pointed out that the Liberal motion, known as M-103 and introduced by Toronto-area MP Iqra Khalid, does not have the force of law and would simply instruct the Commons heritage committee to conduct a study on reducing systemic racism and religious discrimination, including Islamophobia, and collect data on hate crime reports.
The Conservative motion would do the same but without specific reference to Islamophobia.
“This motion, unfortunately ... came as trying to delegitimize the M-103 and trying really to degrade this motion,” Majzoud told the news conference, accusing the Tories of using Muslim Canadians as a “political football.”
“It is so, so sad that those political games are coming after a terrorist attack ... I just want to say to all those politicians ... what you are going to say to the 17 orphans that they cry every night for their fathers to be with them?”
Majzoud said he’s had calls from Muslim parents asking if it’s safe to send their Canadianborn children to school.
“We are a community under siege and this is not an exaggeration ... It is an out-loud time to stop playing games and it is time to address Islamophobia in its real sense.”
Canadian Muslim Forum spokesperson Samah Jebbari (left) listens as President Samer Majzoub responds to a question during a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa Tuesday.