How can Hamil­to­ni­ans re­spond to acts of ter­ror?

In­stead of fear­ing im­mi­grants, sup­port pro­grams, groups that prac­tise wel­come­ness

The Hamilton Spectator - - COMMENT - Tyler Welch is a writer and jour­nal­ist with a de­gree in in­ter­na­tional re­la­tions. TYLER WELCH

In re­cent weeks, as news of IS-in­spired or IS-planned at­tacks in Orlando, Bag­dad and Nice have landed in news­pa­pers and on TV screens, so too have calls for pro­tec­tive poli­cies. The Donald Trumps and the Newt Gin­grichs of the world laud the sup­posed ben­e­fits of anti-Mus­lim reg­istries, bans and tests. Mean­while, polls show that a sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of Cana­di­ans share the same thin­lyveiled hate of the Trumpian sup­port-base.

In Hamil­ton, how should we re­spond to the threat of ter­ror­ism? Should we lash out in our fear, or we cower in it? I say nei­ther. Let us in­stead reach out in love and keep our arms open and wel­com­ing.

Hamil­ton has a proud his­tory as a home for many cul­tural com­mu­ni­ties. These com­mu­ni­ties can be en­gaged mem­bers of Hamil­ton’s com­mu­nity and main­tain cul­tural iden­ti­ties from across the world.

Ex­perts point to a lack of iden­tity and wel­come­ness when study­ing how young Mus­lims be­come rad­i­cal­ized and vi­o­lent. When they feel their cul­ture or iden­tity is not wanted, or is even be­ing ac­tively stamped out, they can re­spond by join­ing rad­i­cal groups who feed them an iden­tity and a pur­pose. Of course, this is no ex­cuse for the grue­some hor­rors per­pe­trated by IS and sim­i­lar or­ga­ni­za­tions, but an un­der­stand­ing of rad­i­cal­iza­tion is im­por­tant when con­fronting the ques­tion of what to do next.

What we do next is con­tinue to love and sup­port Hamil­ton’s Mus­lim, im­mi­grant, and refugee pop­u­la­tions. The National House­hold Sur­vey from 2011 says 3.7 per cent of Hamil­ton’s pop­u­la­tion is Mus­lim, more than the Bud­dhists, Sikhs, Hin­dus, and Jews com­bined. Hamil­ton has also wel­comed al­most 1,000 Syr­ian refugees since De­cem­ber 2015. Per­haps the best am­mu­ni­tion against IS is for them to quickly run out of fighters will­ing to die for their cause. Hamil­ton can work hard to en­sure that our com­mu­nity is so cared for that no rad­i­cal fighter ever comes from our city.

Wesley Ur­ban Min­istries op­er­ates many pro­grams that sup­port im­mi­grants, refugees, and oth­ers. Pro­gram­ming for chil­dren, se­niors, and those with­out ad­e­quate hous­ing or work of­fers new­com­ers and un­der­priv­i­leged Hamil­to­ni­ans a great deal of sup­port and love. Micah House, The Im­mi­grants Work­ing Cen­tre, and the YMCA all pro­vide in­cred­i­ble care to Hamil­ton’s im­mi­grant and refugee pop­u­la­tion.

It is also im­por­tant to men­tion the good work of Mus­lim or­ga­ni­za­tions and mosques, like the Mus­lim As­so­ci­a­tion of Hamil­ton and Hamil­ton Down­town Mosque. These two, like many other lo­cal churches and places of wor­ship, op­er­ate chil­dren’s pro­grams, sum­mer day camps, and coun­selling ses­sions, all of which con­trib­ute to the greater Hamil­ton com­mu­nity.

If you want to fight IS and de­feat ha­tred, you don’t even have to leave town. Donat­ing your time or money to one of these or­ga­ni­za­tions, and wel­com­ing oth­ers with love is the best way for­ward in the face of ter­ror and fear.


Acts of ter­ror such as in Nice can be com­bat­ted by reach­ing out new Cana­di­ans and the dis­en­fran­chised to un­der­stand them, says Tyler Welch.

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