What is the problem with M-103?

A:

 The term “Islamophobia” is not defined in the motion or in Canadian law. The MP who introduced the motion, Iqra Khalid, says that it refers to discrimination against Muslims. This understanding runs counter to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation’s (OIC) definition of “Islamophobia” as “an excessive fear against Islam and anything associable with Islam”. This definition is worrisome as “anything associable with Islam” would include Sharia slander laws that stand in opposition to Canadian traditions. These Islamic anti-blasphemy codes have three consequences. One, they extend “hate” legislation beyond protecting the faith practitioner or individual as intended by Canadian human rights codes. Two, they embrace protecting the faith, doctrines and practices of Islam from criticism or scrutiny. Three, they would send a chill to reformers in the Muslim and other communities who in good conscience think about and want to protect rights of women, minorities, and children or those who think about and want to criticize the excesses of political Islam.

 

The fact that the OIC uses such a definition should be of grave concern to Canada. This 56-member state organization is the second largest in the world behind the United Nations itself. The OIC is the prime mover of United Nations’ efforts to pass resolutions that deal with international human rights and to which Canada is a signatory. It stands to reason that Canada will be expected to apply an understanding of the term that is in line with those of other nations. In European jurisdictions the term “Islamophobia” has had the following impacts on the rule of law and democratic free speech:

  • In Britain, it has aided the introduction of Sharia courts that parallel the British legal system.  These courts discriminate against woman appellants and deem their testimony to be valued at half of that of a man;

  • In Denmark, criticism of the “ideology of Islam” has been ruled a criminal offense with lawbreakers fined and sanctioned;

  • In France, a Jewish scholar was taken to task by the “Collective Against Islamophobia in France” for citing a survey of Muslim attitudes towards Jewish residents of Arab lands; and

  • In Sweden, a new law has been implemented to criminalize “anti-immigrant speech” on the internet.

 

Given the application of the term “Islamophobia” in other Western nations, the proponents of M-103 have credibility problems. They leave us with the impression that Islamophobia is the equivalent of anti-Semitism or anti-LGBTQ in promoting hatred of individuals from a specific group of people, namely Muslims. It is not. Evidence from other jurisdictions that employ the term “Islamophobia” gives no assurance that “Islamophobia” will be used only to protect Muslims from discrimination. What is more likely is to supress criticism of Islam by moderate imams, the majority of secular Muslims, human rights advocates, and others as a religion or political ideology. 

The confusion over this definition is the root of the problem.