Liberal Jewish and Muslim MPs condemn imams who called for the death of Jews
For much of the last week, MPs have have largely been pre-occupied with this question: Should the House of Commons condemn Islamophobia and all systemic religious intolerance and hate or should the House simply condemn all systemic religious intolerance and hate?
That debate culminated with a vote yesterday, a vote in which the Liberal majority prevailed to kill the motion that would have condemned all intolerance and hate but which did not mention Islamophobia by name. The Liberals said they wanted to wait until April when they will get a chance to condemn Islamophobia and all systemic religious intolerance and hate.
While that debate occurred, at least two mosques were vandalized. But reports also surfaced while this debate was on the minds of MPs in which two imams, preaching from the floor of mosques in Toronto and in Montreal, called for the death of all Jews.
The Toronto incident, first reported by Jonathan Halevi of CIJNews, took place at the Masjid Toronto mosque, the same mosque where worshippers last Friday had to go through a handful of protestors bearing signs such as “Muslims are Terrorists” and “Say No To Islam.”
Halevi also spotted a video from 2014 taken at a mosque in Montreal where another imam, who is no longer in Canada, also called for the death of all Jews. Halevi, the Canadian Jewish News noted in its report on the Montreal incident, speaks Arabic but translated the imam’s hate-filled sermon with the help of another Arabic speaker.
These reports were reminders that, though the number of anti-Muslim incidents in Canada is on the rise, Canada still has a significant problem with anti-Jewish or anti-semitic incidents. Indeed, the most recent data from Statistics Canada on hate crimes — the most recent data, unfortunately, is from 2014 — lists 429 hate crimes that year in which the motivation was religious. Of those, nearly half or 213 were hate crimes directed at Jews while 99 hate crimes were directed at Muslims.
Despite all that, 165 Liberals, led by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, stood up and voted against this motion Tuesday:
That the House:
(a) recognize that Canadian society is not immune to the climate of hate and fear exemplified by the recent and senseless violent acts at a Quebec City mosque;
(b) condemn all forms of systemic racism, religious intolerance, and discrimination of Muslims, Jews, Christians, Sikhs, Hindus, and other religious communities; and
(c) instruct the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage to undertake a study on how the government could
(i) develop a whole-of-government approach to reducing or eliminating all types of discrimination in Canada, while ensuring a community-centered focus with a holistic response through evidence-based policy-making,
(ii) collect data to contextualize hate crime reports and to conduct needs assessments for impacted communities; and that the Committee report its findings and recommendations to the House no later than 240 calendar days from the adoption of this motion, provided that in its report, the Committee should make recommendations that the government may use to better reflect the enshrined rights and freedoms in the Constitution Acts, including the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
The Liberals, in debate on the motion above, said they will vote instead for M-103 which reads:
That, in the opinion of the House, the government should:
(a) recognize the need to quell the increasing public climate of hate and fear;
(b) condemn Islamophobia and all forms of systemic racism and religious discrimination and take note of House of Commons’ petition e-411 and the issues raised by it; and
(c) request that the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage undertake a study on how the government could
(i) develop a whole-of-government approach to reducing or eliminating systemic racism and religious discrimination including Islamophobia, in Canada, while ensuring a community-centered focus with a holistic response through evidence-based policy-making,
(ii) collect data to contextualize hate crime reports and to conduct needs assessments for impacted communities, and that the Committee should present its findings and recommendations to the House no later than 240 calendar days from the adoption of this motion, provided that in its report, the Committee should make recommendations that the government may use to better reflect the enshrined rights and freedoms in the Constitution Acts, including the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. (Private Members’ Business M-103)
But, of course, they haven’t yet voted on M-103 and they will not get a chance to do so at least until early April. So right now, the Parliamentary record shows Liberals voting down a motion condemning racism and intolerance even as Conservatives, New Democrats, and Bloc Quebecois MPs, along with the lone Green Party MP, voted in favour of condemning all racism and religious intolerance. (Conservatives, it should be noted, vowed not to vote for M-103 when that motion comes to the floor, preferring, instead the one voted on on Tuesday.)
It’s in that context — the reports of the imams calling for death to Jews and the Liberal rejection of a motion condemning, in part, discrimination against Jews — that a group of Liberal Jewish and Muslim MPs issued this statement Wednesday:
As Canadians, we rise and fall together. Polarization doesn’t only hurt targeted groups, it hurts all Canadians.
As Parliamentarians, we feel it is our responsibility to rally Canadians around our shared values of human rights, equality and respect for each other. It is our duty to speak out and set an example for Canadians in confronting stereotypes and prejudice, and advancing understanding and education.
We are horrified by reports that two Imams in Montreal and Toronto called for the death of Jews during sermons. We condemn such behaviour and call on the mosques’ administration to take appropriate action.
We are equally troubled by reports of hate notes posted outside identifiable Jewish homes in Toronto this past weekend, as well as deeply concerning accounts from university campuses of Jewish students being targeted and vilified. Anti-Semitism is real and we must stand together against it.
We are also united in condemning Islamophobia and supporting Motion 103. Three weeks ago, six Muslim Canadians were killed during their prayer service at a Quebec mosque. Since the attack, there have been troubling incidents of mosque vandalism and a protest with hateful slogans outside a Toronto mosque. As Parliamentarians we recognize this rise in Anti-Muslim sentiment as Islamophobia.
We respect and defend Canadians’ right to freedom of speech and peaceful protest, and Motion 103 does nothing to change speech laws in Canada, contrary to falsehoods being circulated. We believe the best way to counter hate is through free and open dialogue and as such we also want to exercise our right to speak out against intimidating Canadians, including children, when they’re visiting their place of worship.
Motion 103 sends a message of solidarity to all those affected by religious and other forms of systemic discrimination and calls on the Heritage Committee to study and make recommendations to respond to them.
Religious, ethnic, gender and sexual orientation discrimination is a threat to our diversity and social cohesion. We call on all Canadians to lead by example. Words matter.
The overwhelming majority of Canadians reject guilt by association and stigmatization. That is why we must redouble our efforts to promote education and understanding.
We take pride in the countless Canadian stories of interfaith groups coming together to make our communities better.
We must continue to defend a Canada that is based on our Charter of Rights and Freedoms respecting the rights and responsibilities of all. Diversity is our strength.
Hon. Jim Carr, Winnipeg South Centre
Hon. Karina Gould, Burlington.
Hon. Ahmed Hussen, York South — Weston
Hon. Maryam Monsef, Peterborough — Kawartha.
Omar Alghabra, Mississauga Centre
Julie Dabrusin, Toronto — Danforth.
Ali Ehsassi, Willowdale.
David Graham, Laurentides — Labelle.
Anthony Housefather, Mount Royal
Majid Jowhari, Richmond Hill.
Iqra Khalid, Mississauga — Erin Mills.
Michael Levitt, York Centre
Yasmin Ratansi, Don Valley East
Dan Ruimy, Pitt Meadows — Maple Ridge.
Marwan Tabbara, Kitchener South — Hespeler
Arif Virani, Parkdale — High Park.
Salma Zahid, Scarborough Centre
Original article courtesy of National Post.