Standing up against Islamophobia and hate; the journey…

*Standing up against Islamophobia and hate; the journey…

On Jan 29.2022, the following briefing was sent to all federal stakeholders; Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, all the federal  ministers, all the MPs of all parties, and both the French and English media.

The 5th anniversary of Jan 29 Quebec mosque massacre

Here comes the 5th anniversary of one of the most horrifying terror attacks that our country has witnessed in its recent history. On Jan 29, 2017, hate manifested itself in the most bloody way by shooting to death innocent Canadians in a space of peace while praying in Quebec City Grand mosque. The terror attack left 6 men dead, 17 orphans, 6 widows, and one man with lifelong disability.  On 29 January 2017 at around 7:54 pm, a gunman stormed Quebec City Mosque,  Islamophobia had been demonstrated as an extreme “deadly”  form of hatred toward not only Canadians of Muslim faith but, rather against us all as citizens in this country, our values, integrity, and human lives.

Standing up against Islamophobia has been a long striving journey that the Canadian Muslim Forum (FMC-CMF) and others took over their shoulders over the years. On this long journey, there has been a sky-rocking of all forms of Islamophobia across the country including violent ones. Canadian women have been in the center target and victims of discrimination as a result of Islamophobia.    

As any long “drive”, there have been dates and occasions that left crucial impact on the civic struggle against Islamophobia:

  • Sept 2009 , the Canadian Muslim Forum (FMC-CMF) FMC-CMF) formed “Islamophobia task committee”, first of its kind in Canada, the committee set down several objectives to tackle the subject of Islamophobia in the country. The committee kept working on for years at all levels of the society stakeholders, media and at the political spectrums.
  • June 2nd 2010, was the first ever parliamentary day at the Hill by  FMC-CMF delegation designated for the subject of Islamophobia. MP Mr. Richard Nadeau of the Bloc Québécois welcomed the delegation by a statement read on the floor recognizing its presence and the concerns of  Islamophobia impacts on the community. The years that followed FMC-CMF June 2nd 2010 parliamentary day were spent in non-stop quest to make sure that Islamophobia becomes point of interest  for Canadians from all backgrounds and stripes.
  • June 8, 2016, at 5:45 p.m. was another crucial date and time for the “creation” of the “infrastructure interest and concern” in tackling Islamphobia in Canada. In that date a petition known by E-411 requesting the Canadian House of Commons to recognize and condemn Islamophobia in the country was open to signatures. The petition was initiated by the president of the Canadian Muslim Forum, Samer Majzoub, and sponsored by Mr. Frank Baylis , MP Liberal Party of Canada who presented the petition to the House on Dec 6, 2016.The uniqueness of such a petition, that fact that it was posted at the website of the House of Commons in Ottawa. The petition had achieved very noticeable success by collecting close to 70,000 thousands signatures from across the country. This significant number of signatures that the petition attained required FMC-CMF to mobilize from cost to cost to cost, Canadian communities, hundreds of volunteers, stakeholders at all levels and decision makers, from all backgrounds in support of the petition . The E-411 petition has been the base achievement of all the concrete relevant steps that have been taken subsequently.
  • Oct 26, 2016 witnessed the first real and actual milestone at the political level, not only in Canada but in the Western world too. Based on and following the success of petition E-411, Canada legislative body was the first in the Western world to adapt a motion unanimously to condemn all forms of Islamophobia. The motion was presented by Thomas Mulcair, the New Democratic Party leader. It followed unsuccessful attempt on Oct 5 2016.

No doubt that the fact that the motion was adopted without any objection from any of the federal political parties’ MPs reflected its importance to all Canadians across the political spectrum.

  • End of Oct 2016 parallel to its pursuit for the adaptation of the House of the motion condemning all forms of the Islamophobia, FMC-CMF was looking for the next step with regards to concrete policies tackling Islamophobia. Mr. Samer Majzoub, FMC-CMF president, stated in an interview “Majzoub expressed his thanks to all Canadian federal parties and attributed the success of the motion to “true Canadian values”. “ he said the motion would open doors and lead to discussion of concrete policies around the issue”. Accordingly, during the month of Oct 2016, FMC-CMF established direct line of communication with Mrs. Iqra Khalid, MP, Liberal Party of Canada, who came back from a trip overseas. FMC-CMF was seeking Mrs. Khalid’s readiness to present a private motion at the House to adopt “policies” to tackle Islmophobia phenomena in Canada. By the end of the month, Mr. Khalid showed all the readiness to embark on the initiative.
  • March 23, 2017 the adaptation by the House of Commons of the private motion M-103 presented by Mrs. Iqra Khalid. The motion condemned Islamophobia for the second time at House and called for a parliamentary committee to study how to tackle racism and religious discrimination in the country. There is no doubt that the debates, and sometimes heated ones, over the motion M-103, and what followed the private motion had brought up the subject of Islamophobia to the peak attention of Canadians. Mrs. Khalid courageous resistance to the Islamophobic hate campaign against her was appreciated all over. Following the presentation of the M-103, Islamophobic sentiment witnesses surge that never seen before. At one point FMC-CMF president, Mr. Majzoub, was subject to death threat that was left at the front of his house doors’ steps.
  • Jan 29 2019 As per the recommendations that came out of the M-103 parliamentarian committee, FMC-CMF and CJPME launched, during 2018/2019, a Canada wide campaign including a professional survey on Islamophobia which results were published. Moreover, another parliamentary full day was held on Jan 29 2019 calling for designation of January 29th as a National Day of Remembrance and Action on Islamophobia and other forms of religious discrimination, as per one of the recommendations of the report from Parliament’s Heritage Committee, M103.
  • June 2019 Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez of the federal Liberal government unveils anti-racism plan, including the definition of Islamophobia, fulfilling one of the key recommendations from a parliamentary committee study that came out of M-103
  • July 22, 2021 Following yet another terror attack in London, ON eliminating a Canadian family of Muslim faith, the federal government held a summit on Islamophobia concluding with series of commitments that governments has entitled itself too. FMC-CMF submission to the Islamophobia summit .

What’s next….action plan & special envoy assignment!

The House of Commons led by the majority of the MPs, and the Federal government led by PM, Justin Trudeau, supported by other political leaders, have taken moves and shed the light on the plights that Islamophobia is causing.

Both the federal legislative and the executive bodies have adopted and embraced recommendations and commitments to fight Islamophobia and other forms of discrimination. The goals are set and clarified. Hence, we believe that at this point of time there is an urgent need is to move to a real, concrete and defined action plan that will accomplish the ultimate goal of combating Islamophobia and hate, reducing and putting an end for such phenomena(s) in Canada.

The need is for an action plan that set very clearly what are the steps to be taken, means to be adopted, resources available and time frame for the plan to be accomplished.

We also believe that there it’s is essential to  proceed in assigning special envoy for Islamophobia  in the country whose job will be to focus on the pertinent subject matter and have the resources on hand to make sure that the relevant action plan is applied accordingly.

FMC-CMF is hopeful that by Jan 29 2022 , the day of remembrance of the Quebec mosque attack victims and action against Islamophobia, the federal government will have clear cut announcements  of its intentions of an action plan creation and assigning of special envoy for Islamophobia in Canada.

Words to conclude

FMC-CMF underlines that what have been achieved so far in regard to standing up against Islamophobia would not have been possible without the efforts and contributions of the community, non-for profit organizations and activists that are resilient in their refusal to be second class citizens and rejection to be victims of prejudice and bigotry. This would not have been possible without political leaderships that have decided to take steps to face hate. And surely, this would have been very difficult to achieve without the support of Canadians across the country.

Speaking about Islamophobia in no way means it’s our only hate form that we face in the country; anti-Semitism, racial profiling, anti-Asian sentiment, bashing of races and discrimination against indigenous people are issues that we all as Canadians and as humans should work hand on hand to stand up against.

Canadian Muslim Forum(FMC-CMF)

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