The word Is­lam­o­pho­bia not hav­ing in­tended im­pact

The Standard (St. Catharines) - - OPINION - TAREK FATAH

A pro­fes­sor of lin­guis­tics at the Univer­sity of Ot­tawa, com­ment­ing on the so-called anti-Is­lam­o­pho­bia mo­tion, M103, has urged the Trudeau gov­ern­ment “to start an in­ter­na­tional Com­mis­sion on how to han­dle the vi­o­lence in the Ko­ran,” which, he says ex­ists, with­out doubt.

Pro­fes­sor Karim Achab gave his pre­sen­ta­tion on Nov. 8 to the Stand­ing Com­mit­tee on Cana­dian Her­itage re­gard­ing the mo­tion on sys­tem­atic racism and re­li­gious dis­crim­i­na­tion, which fo­cusses on “Is­lam­o­pho­bia”.

Us­ing a Pow­er­Point pre­sen­ta­tion, Achab said “Is­lam­o­pho­bia” is an in­ap­pro­pri­ate, un­jus­ti­fi­able word.

He then fo­cussed on the def­i­ni­tion of “Is­lam­o­pho­bia” of­fered by many Is­lamist ac­tivists: “The ir­ra­tional fear or ha­tred of Mus­lims that leads to dis­crim­i­na­tion or ac­tual acts of ha­rass­ment or vi­o­lence.”

Dis­sect­ing “Is­lam­o­pho­bia”, the lin­guis­tics pro­fes­sor told MPs, “pho­bia (is) a med­i­cal term re­fer­ring to one type of men­tal dis­or­der.” Al­lud­ing to anti-black racism and the geno­cide of the Yazidis by Is­lamic State, the pro­fes­sor asked why there were no words for “Blacko­pho­bia” or “Yazidi­pho­bia”?

The next speaker was my friend, Yas­mine Mohammed, an­other Cana­dian of North African Arab her­itage. She was born in Canada in a strict Is­lamic en­vi­ron­ment but has today stepped back from the faith.

Mohammed in­tro­duced her­self to MPs on the com­mit­tee with these words: “I was born and raised in Canada. I both at­tended and taught in pub­licly funded Is­lamic schools in Canada. I wore a hi­jab from the age of nine in Canada. And later, when I was forced into a mar­riage with a Ji­hadi, I wore a niqab, here in Canada as well.”

Get­ting straight to her point, Mohammed said: “M103 is do­ing the ex­act op­po­site of its in­tent. Rather than quelling big­otry, it is feed­ing the fire — be­cause it in­cludes the word “Is­lam­o­pho­bia” that is not about pro­tect­ing peo­ple — Mus­lims — it is about pro­tect­ing the ide­ol­ogy — Is­lam.”

She ad­dressed the fear of Cana­di­ans whom, she ac­knowl­edged, have “been nat­u­rally un­easy and sus­pi­cious about how a so-called peace­ful ide­ol­ogy could be spilling so much blood.”

Then she told her story. It moved even Lib­eral MPs who, for the most part, have in­sulted Mus­lims who have op­posed M103 be­fore the com­mit­tee.

Mohammed said: “But to peo­ple like me, peo­ple with back­grounds in the Mus­lim world, this is blasé. We have been deal­ing with Mus­lims killing in the name of re­li­gion for 1,400 years. We are ac­cus­tomed to Is­lamists, like the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood, and Ji­hadis like Al Qaida and ISIS.

“I was mar­ried to a mem­ber of Al Qaida. I had his baby. None of this is a mys­tery to me. None of this is new.”

Later, not one Lib­eral or NDP MP asked her a sin­gle ques­tion. As if she had never been there.

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