Liberal MP's anti-Islamophobia motion set for debate next week - Politics - CBC News
Liberal MP's anti-Islamophobia motion set for debate next week
Some critics worry Motion 103 could chill free speech and ultimately lead to blasphemy laws
Members of Parliament will debate a motion to condemn Islamophobia and track incidents of hate crime against Muslims in the House of Commons next week.
Motion 103 was tabled by Mississauga, Ont., Liberal backbencher Iqra Khalid last fall, but will be discussed in the aftermath of last month's mass shooting at a Quebec City mosque. It calls on government to "condemn Islamophobia and all forms of systemic racism and religious discrimination."
The text of the motion also asks the government to:
Recognize the need to quell the increasing public climate of hate and fear.
Request the heritage committee study how the government could develop a government-wide approach to reducing or eliminating systemic racism and religious discrimination, including Islamophobia.
Collect data to contextualize hate crime reports and to conduct needs assessments for impacted communities and present findings within 240 calendar days.
The motion, scheduled for one hour of debate on Wednesday, has generated a backlash online, with petitions garnering thousands of signatures opposing the motion.
Some critics have mischaracterized M-103 as a "bill" or a "law" rather than an non-binding motion.
Some have warned that Canada is moving towards criminalizing Islamophobia or even to the implementation of Islamic law, called Shariah, in Canada.
Khalid declined requests for an interview from CBC News.
When she tabled the motion on Dec. 5, 2016, she described her experience as a "young, brown, Muslim, Canadian woman."
"When I moved to Canada in the 1990s, a young girl trying to make this nation my home, some kids in school would yell as they pushed me, 'Go home, you Muslim' — but I was home. I am among thousands of Muslims who have been victimized because of hate and fear," she said.
"I am a proud Canadian among hundreds and thousands of others who will not tolerate hate based on religion or skin colour. I rise today with my fellow Canadians to reject and condemn Islamophobia."
E-petition condemning Islamophobia
On the same day Khalid tabled her motion, an e-petition with nearly 70,000 signatures was tabled that called on the House of Commons to join the signatories in recognizing that "extremist individuals do not represent the religion of Islam, and in condemning all forms of Islamophobia."
Barbara Kay, a columnist for the National Post and contributor to The Rebel Media, worries about the potential impact on freedom of expression and special protections for a single religious group.
"There are a lot of countries in Europe where criticism of Islam, even if not entrenched in law as a hate crime, are being interpreted by police and law enforcement, social workers — the whole spectrum of the state apparatus. They have been internalized by those within the public service as wrong, and if not criminal then absolutely morally wrong, and therefore Muslims are a group that must be protected from this very offensive speech," she said in an interview with CBC.
Kay said anti-hate speech laws have traditionally targeted human beings, not ideas. She questioned the need to single out Islamophobia, and argued there are more hate crimes against Jews than Muslims in Canada.
Canada’s so-called anti-Islamophobia motion is nothing but trouble
Long before there was “fake news” and “alternative facts,” we had to grapple with “Islamophobia.”
The term first worked its way into popular culture more than a decade ago. It was originally used to denounce the harassment and inconveniences average Muslims unduly faced in the aftermath of 9/11.
But Islamophobia soon morphed into a catch-all phrase to silence anyone critical of the religion. This applied even if they were denouncing extremism like Shariah law or groups like the Muslim Brotherhood.
It’s now become so bad that it’s even hurled at liberal Muslims in the West for speaking out against the ultra-orthodox values that caused them to flee their home countries in the first place. The term has been rendered meaningless and anyone serious about tackling genuine religious discrimination should toss it aside.
Yet now Canada’s MPs are poised to approve a motion that could very well set the government on the path to criminalizing so-called Islamophobia. This is nothing but trouble for anyone who takes issue with the unsavoury aspects of orthodox Islam. I’m looking at you, women’s marchers, gay rights activists and my fellow non-believers.
Blasphemy law is a law limiting the freedom of speech and expression relating to blasphemy, or irreverence toward holy personages, religious artifacts, customs, or beliefs. Blasphemy laws are sometimes used to protect the religious beliefs of a majority, while in other cases, they serve to offer protection of the religious beliefs of minorities.
In addition to prohibitions against blasphemy or blasphemous libel, blasphemy laws include laws which give redress to those who feel insulted on account of their religion. These laws, which may forbid the vilification of religion, “religious insult”, defamation of religion, denigration of religion, offending religious feelings, contempt of religion, or use other similar language, are blasphemy laws. In some jurisdictions blasphemy laws include hate speech laws that extend beyond prohibiting the imminent incitement of hatred and violence.