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Canada Heading Towards Blasphemy Law

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On December 5, 2016, Canadian MP Iqra Khalid proposed a bill against Islamophobia (Motion 103). She began her statement in parliament by saying, “Mr. Speaker, I am a young, brown, Muslim, Canadian woman …”

I find it curious that Khalid begins by identifying herself first as brown, then Muslim and lastly as a Canadian. To my understanding, a Canadian member of parliament should identify as Canadian first.

And being Canadian means showing concern for everyone, not just a select group of people.

Perhaps this may be the reason why Khalid has not studied what Islamophobia really means. The term Islamophobia was created in the 1990s, when U.S. Muslim Brotherhood groups decided to “play victim” for the purpose of “beating down critics.” It is also in sync with a constant push by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation to turn any criticism of Islam or Muslims into blasphemy.

Is this what we want in Canada? Blasphemy laws?

As a Canadian Muslim I am very concerned about the direction in which we are headed. My family and I came to Canada 29 years ago to embrace the values of a liberal democracy, of which freedom of speech is the most vital.

M-103 will kill free speech and goes directly against Canadian values.  Canadians must speak out against this attack on their democratic values. But now they won’t, because they are being silenced by the fear of being called Islamophobes.

Unfortunately racism, bigotry and hate exist in all societies and have existed since time immemorial. As caring Canadians we must always speak out against these acts. But this extends to all communities. For example, anti-Semitic acts are on the rise across the world and also in Canada.

However, it’s not laws that will stop the rise of hate and bigotry.

A bill like M-103 will only increase the frustration of ordinary Canadian who want to (and have the right) to ask questions regarding Islam. Being concerned about creeping sharia is not “phobic.” Questioning honor-based violence and FGM in Muslim majority societies is not “phobic.”

Furthermore every citizen has the right to be concerned about the safety and security of his or her country. If people questions about radicalization and its connection to terrorism, that is also not “phobic.”

Sadly, the tragic attack on a Quebec mosque is being used for political purposes to further the implementation of M-103. If there is to be any lesson learned from the murderous attack on innocent worshippers, it is that we need more intra-faith dialogue, discussion and debate.

Muzzling free expression is not a solution to hate and bigotry.

If M-103 is passed, it will silence positive criticism and widen the gulf between Muslim and non-Muslim Canadians.  This is unacceptable.

Raheel Raza is an award-winning author, journalist, and filmmaker on the topics of jihad and sharia. She is president of The Council for Muslims Facing Tomorrow, and an activist for human rights, gender equality, and diversity. She is one of nine women’s rights activists who took part in Clarion Project’s film “Honor Diaries” which breaks the silence on honor violence against women.

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Raheel Raza

Raheel Raza is ​an adviser to Clarion Project. ​She is an award-winning author, journalist and filmmaker on the topics of jihad and sharia. She is president of The Council for Muslims Facing Tomorrow, and an activist for human rights, gender equality, and diversity.