“Canada and the politics of Islamophobia,” by J. B. Gerald
It is now seven days since six
Muslim worshippers in Quebec City were murdered at their place of worship.
In Canada many are still mourning. Many others are protesting the politics
of hate. Government politicians have made efforts to assure the Muslim
communities how welcome Muslims are in Canada. How do we know the
politicians' words are genuine?
Government also promises Aboriginal people they will be welcome in their
own land, with clean water, health care, safe places to live, a future.
These are not forthcoming. Many Aboriginal people remain less well treated
than refugees. So many Indigenous people suicide, their lives and assets
squandered for the enrichment of people who live far away. Settler youth
commit suicide as well. So many settler peoples die from drug overdose, as
if they would all prefer to be somewhere else.
It is better to say something honest about this Québec City murder of Muslims in their place of worship. Islamophobia in North America is one result of the dehumanization of Muslims. The dehumanization comes from U.S. and NATO policies. The U.S. Coalition has dehumanized Muslim peoples by bombing their civilian populations. It dehumanizes Muslims to torture them at Abu Graib and Guantanamo. Illegal acts against innocent peoples and particularly women and children, deprives entire groups of their humanity. The dehumanization is intentional.
Canada's cooperation with U.S. government policies in unprovoked wars on Islamic countries shows an ambivalence toward Islam, inhumanity, fear of the U.S., and greed. Canada helps in the killing. Domestically the "war on terrorism" periodically strips Muslim people of their human rights.
Five Muslim men arrested in Canada from 2000 to 2003 under Canadian Security Certificates were incarcerated and after some years were all released because the government was repeatedly taken to court to free them. There was no proof adequate to hold them. The lives of these men and their families were badly damaged when mastered by the country they came to for refuge. It is hard to argue that the Canadian Security Intelligence Service treats Muslim peoples with an even hand.
While some human rights and relief were demanded by Canadian courts, simple compassion by government for any of the Security Certificate defendants wasn't evident and isn't evident: Mohamed Harkat, arrested in 2002, held in solitary confinement for three years was released to a restrictive form of house arrest; never charged with a crime, he lives with his wife under continuing threat of deportation to Algeria where they fear he will be tortured.
The government's care for Canadian citizen Omar Khadr as a Muslim child left him in Guantanamo to be tortured. He was only freed after years of citizen protest and the pro bono efforts of a private lawyer, Dennis Edney.
Canada repeatedly abandoned if not encouraged the torture of Muslim citizens abroad, among these Abousfian Abdelrazik and Maher Arar.
Canada's military handed over Muslim prisoners to American forces in Afghanistan when it was known they would be subject to torture.
In Québec, on Feb. 27, 2010, Said Namouth a Muslim, was sentenced to life imprisonment - no crime of violence was committed - for conspiring to commit an act of violence in a foreign country, facilitating terrorism, and editing a threatening video.
Of the "Toronto 18," as the media called the young Muslims presented the public as homegrown terrorists in 2008, several were sentenced to extreme sentences without committing a crime of violence, not knowing how to commit the crimes they were led toward, without the assistance of police informants. Their individual cases are arguable. What isn't arguable is that all were Muslims and saw no love in the destruction without cause of Muslim countries. If these wars were criminal would these men be guilty for trying to resist? Is Islamophobia simply a transference to Muslims of people's self hatred for U.S. and Canadian crimes against essentially defenceless Muslim nations?
The pressure for Muslims to be "good" Canadians is immense. Within Muslim communities some fleeing to North America from countries destabilized, bombed, obliterated, by U.S. foreign policy, were on U.S./NATO payroll and have closer government connections than most citizens. Government searches for terrorists behind every bush increases the fidelity of perfectly normal middle class Muslims who are guilty of nothing. Those who might break the mold and try to resist criminal policies illegally are targeted by highly paid informants as with the "Toronto 18." If they help the victims of foreign policy legally, they are criminalized as was the Iraqi-American doctor, Dr. Rafil Dhafir in the U.S.: his foundation sent medical supplies to the children of Iraq; Dr. Dhafir was labeled a suspected terrorist by politicians and is serving 22 years in an American supermax prison for breaking sanctions, medicare fraud and tax evasion.
Of Muslims speaking their truths to power, Imam Anwar al-Aulaki was an American citizen placed on the U.S. President's killing list and murdered without a trial, as were two of his children subsequently.
Islamophobia is implanted in U.S. and Canadian government policies. It is implanted because it's of tactical use in taking over the resources of predominantly Muslim countries. Resistance to the hatred comes from the people.
In response to the fire-bombing of the Masjid al-Salaam mosque in Peterborough Ontario, November 14, 2015, the town's Beth Israel synagogue voted unanimously to invite the mosque's congregation to worship in the synagogue.
In response to the burning of the Victoria Islamic Centre in Victoria Texas (January 28th) worshippers were given keys to the local Jewish Synagogue by the members of Temple Bnai Israel. The Temple president explained -"We got a lot of building for a small amount of Jews" (Independent). Nearly a million dollars was raised online in the first three days after the fire.
In Toronto, responding to the carnage in Québec City, a multi-faith group formed rings of protection around at least six mosques during worship: “For, though we are grieving and many in our communities are afraid and feeling victimized, the Prophet (peace be upon him) did not come to teach us to be paralyzed by our fears or to wallow in self-pity, or to be mouthpieces for grievances. He came to teach us how to heal and how to be healers, how to respond to ugliness with beauty, how to be fully human in times of ease and in hardship.” — Imam Abdul Aziz Suraqah, Imdadul Islamic Centre, North York. (thestar.com).
Amid this great sleep of North American middle classes there's intelligence among all who have known oppression.
Partial sources online: "Jewish people give Muslims key to their synagogue after town's mosque burns down," Jon Sharman, Feb. 1, 2017,Independent; "In wake of Québec mosque attack comes amazing gesture with rings of peace: Paradkar," Shree Paradkar, Feb. 3, 2017, thestar.com; "Canadian synagogue invites Muslims to pray in building after local mosque is fire-bombed," Nov. 28, 2015, The Independent.
"Canada and the politics of Islamophobia"
by John Bart Gerald
image by Julie Maas
First posted: nightslantern.ca February 5, 2017
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