Dear Mr. Prime Minister Hon. Justin Trudeau,
As a journalist, a member of PEN Canada and a member of CJFE, I agree with you what you have clearly said last Friday that freedom of the press is very important to you and Canada.
You were saying this in the context of Chinese Foreign Minister’s angry remarks in Ottawa about a Canadian Journalist, Kevin Garratt, who has been jailed in China. But sadly I got harassed, humiliated and bullied by your three MPs on the following day in Mississauga in the wake of my rights for free press.
On that harassing incident, I was about to call the police but then took a deep breath and decided to reflect in it the press.
On a bright sunny Saturday afternoon, I saw MP Omar Alghabra walking to an event stage with two other MPs, Salma Zahid and Iqra Khalid. I was standing with my wife, Haleema Sadia and a few friends at the Halal Food Festival, Celebration Square Mississauga.
As we knew all three MPs, my wife and I greeted them. My wife, an anchor person, asked MP Omar Alghabra to come to our TAG TV Studio. Alghabra blasted us in return and pointed out to me that I wrote a misleading article against him and the infiltration of Islamists to the liberal party.
I answered that I didn’t write any misleading article.
Then he opened his smart phone and showed me my article with the title, “Brotherhood Front Groups Target Canadian Parliament,” that was published in April 3, 2014.
He accused me of attacking the Muslim Brotherhood, Jama’at-e-Islami and other Muslim groups in that article and called me a discredited journalist. He then lectured me about ethics of journalism for around fifteen minutes.
MP Salma Zahid jumped into the discussion and accused me of mentioning her name against previous government’s Bill C51 (that I never did). Then MP Iqra Khalid accused me of associating her with Jama’at-e-Islami.
Sadly, the way those MPs surrounded and harassed me and my wife that Saturday afternoon prove my fears what I have expressed in the same article two years ago.
I pondered that if my single article about my opinion on growing Islamic extremism is upsetting those Canadian Muslim MPs to that extent that they were so intolerant and humiliating to me and my wife (we are both Progressive Canadian Muslims who don’t necessarily buy their perception of Islam) and towards dissident thoughts, how could we expect them to create a bridge between the government and Canada’s diverse Muslim communities?
It’s not the first time we experienced such attacking behavior from them. They have been observed by other community members as talking negatively about our writing and speaking our ideas in the Canadian Pakistani and Muslim communities.
My wife was shocked and wondered, based on this highly irresponsible and humiliating behavior, whether or not those MPs belong in the Canadian Parliament or rather a parliament in Pakistan or Syria.
She fearfully asks me what would happen to us as those three member parliaments have in a way threatened us and our right to a free press.
I responded to my wife that we will keep fighting for our rights for a free press, even against those powerful people who misuse their powers and try to harm us.
I hope you will help assure our safety and maintain environment of a free press that is dear to you and all Canadians as well.
Tahir Gora is a Pakistani and the Director of the Canadian Thinkers’ Forum, a member of the Coalition of Progressive Muslim Canadian Organizations. He can be followed on Twitter at Twitter.com/TahirGora.