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.

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