March 27, 2017

Canadian parliament passes motion against rising Islamophobia

By Abdus-Sattar Ghazali

The Canadian parliament has passed a landmark anti-Islamophobia and religious discrimination motion that calls on politicians to condemn anti-Islamic behavior and rhetoric. It called on the government to recognize the need to "quell the public climate of fear and hate".

The vote on Friday (March 24) follows months of fierce debate in Canada, including protests from both the motion's supporters and detractors. The non-binding motion was passed by 201 votes to 91.

Liberal first-term MP, Iqra Khalid, introduced the motion, also known as M-103, last December, but it gained significance after the January attack on a Quwbex Mosque that left six Muslims dead.

"I think that we need to continue to build those bridges amongst Canadians, and this is just one way that we can do this," Khalid said after the vote in parliament.

The motion garnered an online backlash, petitions against it and nationwide protests. According to local media, Khalid has also received death threats after introducing the motion. Khalid told The Star that her office has been swamped with hateful messages over the Motion 103.

The majority of Canada's Conservative MPs voted against the motion. Conservative MP David Anderson put forward an amendment to the motion to try and change the wording to include other religions. He argued the motion should be to "condemn all forms of systemic racism, religious intolerance and discrimination of Muslims, Jews, Christians, Sikhs, Hindus and other religious communities". But the amendment was rejected by Liberals.

While condemning Islamophobia and all forms of systemic racism and religious discrimination the Motion-103 took note of petition e- 411 to the Canadian parliament. The petition, passed by the parliament on October 26, 2016, reads:

"Whereas:

"Islam is a religion of over 1.5 billion people worldwide. Since its founding more than 1400 years ago, Muslims have contributed, and continue to contribute, to the positive development of human civilization. This encompasses all areas of human endeavors including the arts, culture, science, medicine, literature, and much more;

"Recently an infinitesimally small number of extremist individuals have conducted terrorist activities while claiming to speak for the religion of Islam. Their actions have been used as a pretext for a notable rise of anti-Muslim sentiments in Canada; and

"These violent individuals do not reflect in any way the values or the teachings of the religion of Islam. In fact, they misrepresent the religion. We categorically reject all their activities. They in no way represent the religion, the beliefs and the desire of Muslims to co-exist in peace with all peoples of the world.

"We, the undersigned, Citizens and residents of Canada, call upon the House of Commons to join us in recognizing that extremist individuals do not represent the religion of Islam, and in condemning all forms of Islamophobia."

Liberal Member of Parliament Frank Baylis (Pierrefonds--Dollard, Quebec) sponsored a petition (e-411 Islam) condemning Islamophobia initiated on June 8, 2016 by Samer Majzoub, President of the Canadian Muslim Forum, one of the largest Canadian Muslim group founded in 1993.

According to Center for Enquiry Canada, E-petitions are a new feature of Canada's federal parliamentary system."..a feature which promises to provide increased access to Parliamentarians.

This new system is designed to allow individuals or groups to write and submit petitions to Parliament.

Every petition requires at least 5 Canadian citizen supporters and the sponsorship of a Member of Parliament to proceed. Any petition which receives 500 signatures within 120 days are submitted to the House of Commons for response.

By June 2016, the system had already collected 111 petitions and the government had issued 3 responses.
 


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Executive Editor: Abdus Sattar Ghazali
 


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