Canada continues its submission to Islamism. My local paper, the_ Hamilton Spectator,_ ran an op-ed on January 26th from a local Muslim doctor under the headline, “Islamophobia is alive and well.“ Dr. Raza Khan, writing about the tragic shooting a year ago by a lone individual in a Quebec City mosque killing 6 and injuring more, advocates that Canada should designate January 29th as a “National Day of Remembrance and Action on Islamophobia.“ The doctor recites a few anti-Muslim actions by some fringe groups, and Quebec’s law that those wearing burkas or niqabs would not be eligible from offering or receiving public services, its legislature feeling that faces should be disclosed. From this he hectors us that “Racism is surging in Quebec” and that “the ugly face of hatred (is) here in Canada.”
He concludes his essay thus: “Never Again. For all.“ Most of us know that “Never Again” is the term most often used in the hope that the Holocaust murdering 6 million Jews will never again happen. Dr. Khan however appropriates this expression for the purpose of drawing moral equivalence between acts of some isolated individuals and a considered legislative policy about how far hiding your face can go in a liberal democracy. This equivalency was run in the newspaper three days before International Holocaust Remembrance Day. This attempt to give another commemorative date to Muslims a few days before Holocaust Remembrance Day follows an attempt to bring a motion before Canada’s Parliament giving special attention to “Islamophobia” in a motion condemning racism.
Member of Parliament Iqra Khalid in her Motion 103 calls on the government to “condemn Islamophobia and all forms of systemic racism and religious discrimination,“ asks the government to “recognize the need to quell the increasing public climate of hate and fear,“ and request for the “Commons heritage committee to study how the government could develop a government-wide approach to reducing or eliminating systemic racism and religious discrimination, including Islamophobia, and collect data to provide context for hate crime reports and to conduct needs assessments for impacted communities. Findings are to be presented within eight months.“ Khalid has been “unwilling to entertain any compromise on the specific wording” of Motion 103.
Dr. Khan is rightly concerned about any hatred between groups that manifests itself in violence, and I agree that we should not “tolerate” it. However, the act he discusses in his article – the horrible shooting at the mosque in Quebec City – cannot be said to be supported by any Canadians that I have heard of, and so to taint all Canadians with charges of “Islamophobia” is unfair.
Canadian writer Diane Weber Bederman has tried to clarify just what is the meaning of the term “Islamophobia” that seems to be as often used as a weapon against the West as it is a shield to protect the innocent. With motion M103 certain Muslims are seeking to give “Islamophobia” a specific protection not mentioned in the motion for other religions or racial or ethnic groups.
And so, the use of the term “Islamophobia” tends to arise when Muslims seek special privileges in our schools or assert that Sharia law or cloaking women or other matters that are as much _custom _as_ religious_ _doctrine_ should override Canadian laws or customs. We must ask however: Is there an agreed upon definition of Islamophobia that we Canadians can agree on before we engage in the collective mea culpa that Dr. Khan seems to expect? In fact, Canadian writer Diane Weber Bederman recently contacted four major media outlets in Canada and asked them to share their working definitions of Islamophobia. The _National Post _and the _CBC_ did not reply. The other two, the _Toronto Star _and the _Globe and Mail _said they don’t have one. She asks, “How can we have a meaningful conversation about Islamophobia if we not agree upon a definition.
Firstly, a “phobia” is an_ irrational fear._ It is obvious to me that the fear that people generally have about Islamist terrorists and the violent clashes between certain Muslims and their neighbours in the Middle East and Asia, or against the West, or various groups_ within_ Islam – Sunnis versus Shia, Iran versus Saudi Arabia, Hezbollah against the Lebanese Sunnis, Turks versus Kurds, etc. – is very real and is not a phobia.
Secondly, is there one unified Islam that too many Canadians supposedly hate, or does the disdain relate only to radical or extremist versions of Islam? The word Islamophobia therefore confuses the very issues we need to discuss and therefore lacks any utility and I suggest we stop using it.
In my recent book, The Ideological Path to Submission … and what we can do about it (Mantua Books), I assert that what we really should fear is not the many Muslims who hold Canadian liberal freedoms and justice system as the highest priority, but those who we call “Islamists” because they follow the ideology of “Islamism”. Islamism as a political and religious ideology connotes supremacist doctrines – Sharia Law instead of the laws of Western nations, hatred of gays, Jews, Christians and Hindus (or at the very least holding them to be “infidels”), abuse of women and children, the desire for a world-wide Caliphate and a host of illiberal actions and beliefs. This distinction is also used in the important new book by Professor Salim Mansur of London’s Western University, entitled_ The Qur’an Problem and Islamism_ (Mantua Books). It is also the distinction embraced by most of the reformist Muslims about whom one can read in Canadian Christine Douglas Williams’ book entitled_ The Challenge of Modernizing Islam: Reformers Speak Out and the Obstacles They Face_ (Encounter).
Khan, in his hectoring of Canadians on the need to commemorate the deaths of Muslims in Quebec City with a special National day of remembrance states that since there is a national day commemorating the killing of 14 women at a college in Montreal in 1989, Muslims deserve the same thing. What he omits to say, for obvious reasons, is that the killer of those 14 women was the son of a Muslim. He also omits to say that some Muslim young men in Canada continue to commit terrorist offences and that acts of hatred directed to Muslims (which I agree should be zero) in fact are far less than acts of hatred against blacks and Jews. Attempts to gain special privileges for Muslims is indeed a slippery slope and must be on pause until Muslims themselves sort out their many internecine conflicts, most importantly the menace of Islamism.
Most importantly, Khan does his own community a tremendous disservice by harping on a hatred that in fact, looking at Muslim participation in our society, in our universities, in our professions and in our media, does not in fact exist. Those who are educated professionals should be leaders in rejecting the use of the term “Islamophobia” and encouraging his Muslim co-religionists to reject the ideology of Islamism, which has brought so much violence around the world. It is Islamism, not tolerant Canadians, that has created the stain against Islam and pretending otherwise is not a basis for a better Canada.
Finally, it is downright offensive for Khan to conclude by stating, “Never again. For all.“ “Never again” of course is the Jewish slogan that “never again” will the Jews permit a Holocaust against 6 million Jewish men, women and children, and that Jews must remain strong and vigilant in the Jewish homeland, Israel. To equate whatever prejudice or even hatred that Muslims experience in Canada with the death of six million is questionable moral equivalency which I find most offensive.
It is time for our opinion leaders to leave behind misleading words like Islamophobia, and explore more deeply the difference between Islam and Islamism, and make such distinction the basis of who to welcome to Canada and who to protect from prejudice in Canada. Muslims themselves will have to determine whether tolerance of Islamists in their midst will have negative consequences for their larger community. Hopefully, the next article we read from a Muslim spokesman in Canada will eschew blame against all Canadians and instead make demands of those illiberal Islamists whose goal is not friendly participation in our tolerant society but an attempt to force submission of a liberal nation to illiberal acts and values.
Howard Rotberg is President of Mantua Books Ltd. (www.mantuabooks.com) which is Canada’s sole conservative publishing house. He is the author of four books in the area of political culture, values and ideologies, including Tolerism: The Ideology Revealed and its sequel, The Ideological Path to Submission … and what we can do about it.