Article: Canada Needs The Political Will Required To Tackle Hate

A young mourner is comforted during a funeral ceremony for three of the victims of the deadly shooting of the Quebec Islamic Cultural Centre at the Congress Center in Quebec City, February 3, 2017. REUTERS/Mathieu Belanger

Canada Needs The Political Will Required To Tackle Hate

*Samer Majzoub

As bullets harvested the souls of the victims, one after another, on the night of the Jan. 29, 2017 at the Quebec Islamic Cultural Centre, a new era of terror was inaugurated, signed by the bloodshed of those who lost their lives and the tears that have been shed by the 17 orphans and six widows left behind.

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A young mourner is comforted during a funeral ceremony for three of the victims of the deadly shooting of the Quebec Islamic Cultural Centre at the Congress Center in Quebec City, Feb. 3, 2017. (Photo: Mathieu Belanger/Reuters)

The shock waves of that bloody night hit very hard across the country, creating fears, worries and uncertainties. The first few hours after the massacre, the main question that was uttered by the media, citizens and politicians was who had committed this crime. The picture came to be clearer when it was revealed that the shooter was a young student, from the same university where most of the victims either graduated from or worked at. Moreover, based on Facebook posts, comments and information from those who knew the shooter, it was revealed that his right-wing ideology was his instigator, leading him to murder innocent worshipers.

The only “sin” those murdered in the mass shooting carried was that they were all Muslims, who happened to be praying in the Centre. And the only reason why the killer decided to end their lives was a hate doctrine, represented by the Islamophobia and bigotry that have plagued the environment in Quebec, and the rest of the country, for many years.

Following Quebec’s tragedy, columnists, civic organizations, NGOs, politicians and the general public all agreed that xenophobia, Islamophobia and prejudice were the drive behind the violent incidents that have been targeting Muslim citizens. For years and years, warnings and public advice have been given to society’s stakeholders and the political classes regarding Islamophobia as an extreme form of discrimination and radicalization, which has been leading to violence targeting Muslim community.

The Quebec City massacre is a clear demonstration of the tragic end-product of letting Islamophobia go unchecked.

For many years, besides some soft talk, the concrete political will to tackle Islamophobia and other sorts of hate speech was almost totally absent from the public scene. On the contrary, various political platforms embarked on divisive agendas that inflamed the extreme ideologies that implanted the concept of “us versus them.”

Furthermore, some mainstream and social media became unchecked podiums for all those who shared their animosity and hostility toward their fellow citizens of different skin colours or beliefs. This dangerous combination can, very expectedly, create a path of hatred that may lead to fatal incidents. The Quebec City massacre is a clear demonstration of the tragic end-product of letting Islamophobia go unchecked.

Following the cruel killing of the six worshipers in Quebec City, there was an outpouring of sympathy and solidarity coming from every corner in the county in support of the families of the victims. Words of condemnation came from almost all politicians and public figures, bringing together all Canadians in their denunciation of the terrorist attack. The unfortunate reality came after this short term of solidarity which was presumed to be genuine enough to cause change in the toxic and bigoted environment that preceded the attack.

During the burials of the six victims, a spike of hate-related incidents were reported in various areas throughout the country, from Mosques being fire bombed to Muslim citizens being exposed to various physical attacks. Furthermore, there was a sudden increase of xenophobic incidences in many areas around the country as a result of political statements and positions held by those who have placed themselves at the forefront of the divisive rhetoric, creating friction within the Canadian social fabric.

Day after day and incident after incident, it has become a necessity that all systemic, racial and religious discrimination, including Islamophobia, must be studied thoroughly to come up with policies that will cure these social diseases once and for all.

Samer Majzoub, president of the Canadian Muslim Forum (FMC-CMF)

Outstanding Achievement Fulfilled by Canada and Community, op-ed by Hussein HobAllah

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*Hussein Hoballah, chief editor of Sada Al mashreq.

Last Tuesday, the 25th of October, two-thirty a.m. was attack time that befell the Muslim Cultural Centre in Sept-Îles’, which lies about 900 km to Montreal’s northern east. A few weeks ahead of commencing work, the centre’s furniture was destroyed. Now that the centre had lost around $5,000, NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair, as well as the entire parliament, condemned the incident on the 26th of October. The next day, the attacker gave himself up to the police that made a mitigating statement, saying the attacker had been driven by drunkenness rather than hate. He has therefore been released until trial. A day ahead of the incident, Bloc Québécois’ MP Mariléne Gill, objected when a visiting Ahmadi Muslim group asked for room to pray. Gill sounded uneasy and enraged enough to provoke the hate of any listener against the group, even if she didn’t mean it. However, Liberal Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage, Randy Boissonnault, was quick to respond, confirming that the Canadian Constitution spoke of respect to multiculturalism and faith in and outside parliament.

The attack, in addition to Ms Gill’s provocative speech took place when the Muslim community was working to get parliamentarians to condemn all forms of Islamophobia in Canada. Back on the 5th of last month, the motion failed to pass; a Conservative MP had voted against it.  Even earlier, community members in different Canadian regions had begun to suffer from attacks and harassments. An online petition signed by around 70,000 Canadian citizens had not been enough.

Back on last Wednesday, nearly an hour after parliament had condemned the Sept-Îles attack, MP Thomas Mulcair again proposed an Islamophobia-condemning motion- whatever form Islamophobia took. All accepted it, including MP Gill. That was great success for the Canadian Muslim Forum (CMF), the community and scores of other Canadian citizens, who had managed to get the online petition around 70,000 signatures. To the community, that is great achievement to take pride in; community members all across Canada have collaborated in coordination with the CMF. Canada, too, has the right to take pride in that because it means that the Canadian values protecting all citizens have been met. After all, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms confirms respect for multiculturalism and faith.

Now that Islamophobia has been condemned, this is not the end, but rather the beginning, like Mr Samer Majzoub puts it. Having launched the petition first, the interviewee says, “We need to continue working politically and socially and with the press.” They used to doubt the existence of Islamophobia, but now we do not have to worry about that; all blocs and political figures, represented by Canada’s supreme legislative authority, have spoken of that existence. In the offing, we need to get policy makers to do something, especially when it comes to the Liberals, who have shown distinct openness regarding Muslims and all ethnicities. After condemnation, policies must be made. Mr Majzoub says, “All of us must work hard to maintain our peaceful, social and humanitarian struggle so that condemnation is followed by comprehensive policies.”

This time it seems clear that collaboration, cooperation, loyalty and perseverance while claiming rights do not go useless. We need to keep that up in order to better our future and face the coming challenges “as long as some biased and racists are insulting, defaming or harassing citizens or even destroying and burning institutions.” We need to get more involved in political and social life and any other proper place so that we can protect our rights.

Let the community, including all institutions, enjoy this great achievement! Thanks to the CMF, whose president says, “This is everybody’s success, not just someone’s or an institution’s or a community’s.” Thanks to Mr Mulcair and his party for presenting the condemnation motion to parliament. Thanks, too, to MP Frank Baylis and his party for adopting the parliament’s online petition. We show gratefulness to all parties and MPs who have supported the motion.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Islamophobia Is Now A Canadian Concern

 

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http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/samer-majzoub/islamophobia-canadian-concern_b_12533736.html

*Samer Majzoub, E-411 petition initiator. 

The notion of discrimination has been the plague of humanity since forever. People have been targeted and persecuted for their skin colour, religious affiliation, race, nationality and others attributes. History is full of bloody periods where men, women and children have been exposed to violent hostility and deadly means for no reason besides their unique identities which their aggressors have used as pretext for crimes and atrocities inflicted upon them.

In the present days, at the time where the human civilization declares its superiority, new forms of hatred and bigotry have come to light. Modern stereotyping and what is considered to be the old fanatic stereotyping share many parallels, one of which is that both are discriminatory towards groups of people due to attributes of their identity, race, convictions and cultural background. The “new concept” of discrimination has been demonstrated under various titles, such as racial profiling, anti-Semitism and Islamophobia.

In 2010, the Canadian Muslim Forum (FMC-CMF) had led a community delegation to the House of Commons in Ottawa Hill. The objective of that parliamentary day was to create awareness and shed more light to the legislators over the notion of Islamophobia and the very troubling sharp increase in reported incidents that were related to this issue. Statistics and points of discussions were presented. Concerns over the moral and physical violent incidents against Canadians because of their visible religious identity had been some of the focus points brought up during the trip to Parliament that day.

As the years have passed, the Canadian Muslim Forum (FMC-CMF), community organizations, activists, human rights groups, some public figures, intellectuals, elected officials and others have kept their worries very well exposed over the intensification of Islamophobia in the country.

Media statements, seminars and lectures, raising the subject matter to elected officials and creating awareness amongst the communities and the general public have all been means used to demonstrate the danger of letting hatred and intolerance prevail, which would lead to a toxic environment by bringing up friction within the society and creating fear in the hearts and minds of young Canadians who have been victims of verbal and physical aggressions by bigots and hatemongers.

In early 2015, the Canadian Muslim Forum (FMC-CMF), in a press conference held in Montreal, voiced citizens’ frustrations and denunciations over using the Muslim community as a political football by certain politicians in hopes of gaining more votes during election periods. Furthermore, there were notes over the role of a few media outlets in inflaming Islamophobia during these times.

As hate speech moves from being a phenomenon to a social disease, some politicians, public figures and other media outlets joined in on the warnings expressed previously that Islamophobia has to be stopped, rejected and deplored. On Oct 1, 2015, Quebec’s National Assembly came together to condemn Islamophobia. Furthermore, more declarations started to be heard from various sides, whether from the governmental ruling side or the opposition side, all joining together to warn against the looming upsurge of hate speech.

The tackling of Islamophobia as a Canadian issue took another step ahead on the ladder of interest in the country. On June 8, 2016, a petition had been initiated by myself and sponsored by Frank Baylis, federal Liberal MP of Pierrefonds-DDO, calling on the House of Commons to condemn all forms of Islamophobia in Canada. The petition known by e-411 collected close to 70,000 signatures, making it the most signed online petition in the history of the House of Commons. Canadians from coast to coast showed their support for the request that the petition carried to denounce discrimination against Muslim citizens.

Based on the solid support that the petition e-411 got from Canadians, a motion to condemn all forms of Islamophobia was submitted, on Oct 5, 2016, to the House of Commons for unanimous approval by all MPs. Although the unanimous motion didn’t pass through due to the refusal of a small group of Conservative representatives out of the 338 members in the House of Commons, the fact that it earned the consent of the vast majority of other legislators proves that the Islamophobia is becoming a true Canadian concern.

Surely, the trip to recognize and to condemn discrimination, as it is a total contradiction to Canadian values, has not come to an end yet. Canadians from all stripes of social, political, racial and religious backgrounds are coming together at a much faster pace to stand united up to hate and smear campaigns against their fellow citizens.

Multiculturalism Is A Canadian Success Story. *Samer Majzoub

 

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*Samer Majzoub

Throughout the years, the nation of Canada, as we are aware, became a land of immigration, a home to millions of people from different lands, ethnicities, cultures and religious beliefs. Every new comer that has settled in Canada in the last few hundred years and those who will settle in the future share one common name: “immigrants.”

http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/samer-majzoub/multiculturalism-in-canada_b_9388576.html

 

 

Article: We Need To Make A Collective Effort To End Violent Radicalism, by Samer Majzoub.

California Shootings

http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/samer-majzoub/end-violent-radicalism_b_8746608.html

*Samer Majzoub
The concept of radicalism that leads to violence through history has always, similar to all other philosophical doctrines, sought to justify its movement based on mainly social, economical and political reasoning.
“Religions” have been, in recent times, added to the catalogue that violent radicals use to legitimize their acts, and as mean of delivering their objections to what they consider “injustice.” This addition of “religious” reasoning to violent operations has made the subject much more sensitive, confusing and complicated.

Oct 19 2015, “Canadian Values” victory-day: inclusion over exclusion!

 

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http://samermajzoub.com/2015/10/26/oct-19-2015-canadian-values-victory-day-inclusion-over-exclusion/

The call for the 42nd Federal Canadian  election was issued by the Governor General David Johnston on   August 4. The subsequent campaign spanned 78 days from the dissolution of Parliament to the election, one of the longest campaigns in Canadian history. This was also the first time since the 1930 election when a Canadian Prime Minister tried to win a 4th consecutive term in power.

The main parties’ standings at dissolution of the 41st Parliament was 159 seats for the Conservatives, 95 for the NDP, 36 for the Liberals and 2 for the BQ. From the early stages of the election campaign, it was clear that it would be a hard-fought election due to what was considered a 3-way race between the three main federal parties, CPC, PLC and NDP.  The NDP, being a front-runner, gave this particular election more enthusiasm as historically the Conservatives and Liberals have always ruled the country.

As the elections campaign persisted, polls were clearly showing that Canadians wanted change after almost a decade of Conservatives rule. In spite of the conservatives’ extensive elections media campaign presenting Mr. Stephan Harper as the best leader for the country, by early September, surveys of Canadians had shown the contrary: they were looking for a new PM. All indications were obviously directing towards a new resident at 24 Sussex Drive  in Ottawa, the nations’ capital, on Oct 19.

The three main competing parties, CPC, PLC and the NDP put up strong media campaigns targeting voters with their political platforms. The parties’ leaders wasted no time to present their arguments and points of views over various subjects and topics. This continued until Sept 15 when a Federal Court of Appeal panel dismissed a government appeal over a ban on face coverings at citizenship ceremonies in what amounts to a major policy rebuke of the Harper government. At this point, the election campaign witnessed a sharp spin towards what has been considered by many as ugly and horrible conducts by the Conservatives adopting a very divisive approach and rhetoric in hopes of winning the election.

The Conservative era in the last decade has been overshadowed by controversial policies in many aspects, but mainly by human rights violations under security excuses. The Conservative government ended its ruling period with the very contentious bill C51 and bill C24. Both bills have been considered “ as an attack on constitutional freedoms and an “extraordinary inversion” of the role of judges”  and  “a two-tiered system in which naturalized Canadians are treated as second-class”  .

The election rhetoric based on fear-mongering against women who wear the niqab took over air waves, campaigns, interviews and polls. The campaign turned women’s safety and rights into a political game that distracts from the realities and significant concerns of Canadians. Muslims and Arabs have been problematized as not only a security problem, but as a socio-cultural problem in Canada. The Conservatives thinking they will win more votes from the niqab controversy, sank deeper into their conflict-ridden political campaigns. What made such negative policy bitter is the fact it was run by the prime minister of the country whose main role is to unite Canadians and protect women’s rights.

Muslim Canadians felt and without prior notice that they have been used as a political football for election purposes. The majority of Canadians started to believe that the Muslim community is being used to capitalize on misconceptions and to create fear in the hearts and minds of fellow citizens. As a result, in the midst of the elections movement the xenophobic and Islamophobic sentiments hit a peak and the expected constructive political debates during campaigns turned to be theaters where Islamophobia became a free-for-all scene.

As the election campaign came to its last session, it became clear that the niqab debate that was initiated to the advantage of the Conservatives had back fired.  Mr. Harper relied on polls he ordered himself and bet big time on the niqab debate and lost. Canada is a great country by all means. It can’t accept bigotry, hatred and discrimination. Canadians, on Oct 19 2015, made it clear and loud: yes to inclusion no to exclusion.  The majority of Canadians chose the Federal political parties that have championed Canadian values of unity, harmony, equality and freedom of choice to represent them in the House of Commons. The election results will send a strong message to those politicians who have pursued campaigns of hate, prejudice, Islamophobia, fear and division amongst Canadians that they have harvested what they have planted, loss and defeat.

Samer Majzoub, Recipient of Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal ; President of Human right’s advocacy group ; Recipient of many recognition awards.