Letters to the Editor

LETTERS: Not the place to debate religion

Editor:

Re: MPs focus on motion singling out Islam, Feb. 8.

Progressive Muslims and all Canadians who value freedom of speech should be very concerned about Motion M-103 and the petition E-103, which preceded it.

The petition basically states that the petitioners believe that “an infinitesimally small number of extremist individuals have conducted terrorist activities while claiming to speak for the religion of Islam,” while the petitioners themselves believe that “in fact, they (the extremists) misrepresent the religion.” The petition then requests that MPs “join us in recognizing that extremist individuals do not represent the religion of Islam, and in condemning all forms of Islamophobia.”

My objection to the government acceptance of this petition is simple.

First, the petitioners are asking the government of Canada to decide between competing interpretations of Islam, with an intent to validate one over the other. The government is unqualified to do any such thing. Even if it were, it has no business involving itself in theological discussions. Unlike many Middle Eastern countries, Canada is dedicated to the concept of the separation of church and state.

Secondly, by committing itself to a condemnation of “all forms of Islamophobia,” it is conveying a privilege to Islam that it has not conferred on any other religion. The language of this petition is exclusive rather than inclusive.

If the government really intends to be even-handed, it ought to condemn all forms of religious persecution. Period. But wait, it already has. It’s part of Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

But there is probably more to it than that. Check out the meaning of “Islamophobia,” according to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. Look up the “Cairo Declaration on Human Rights” and “Shariah Law.” Our earnest MPs and many signatories to the petition may have been duped. Should the Canadian government, in its scramble to please every vocal and visible minority, find itself backed into the universally accepted definition of Islamophobia, even progressive Muslims may find themselves hauled in front of a human-rights tribunal for daring to criticize the fundamentalists.

As for motion M-103, it references e-411 and asks for a study to determine “a whole-of-government approach to reducing or eliminating systemic racism and religious discrimination including Islamophobia in Canada.”

Once again, current laws and the Canadian Charter of Rights already provide the legal framework for combating racism and religious discrimination, and many special-interest groups have not been shy about pursuing every imagined slight through the Human Rights Tribunals. Motion M-103 would have been redundant, except that it specifically refers to Islamophobia.

An official government acceptance of specifically “anti-Islamophobia” legislation can easily become a direct attack on one of our most cherished freedoms: the freedom of speech, without which there can be no properly functioning democracy.

I’m hoping our elected MPs will prove to be a lot more astute in protecting our basic rights and freedoms rather than rushing in to this potential quagmire simply as an act of condolence for recent atrocities which have already been roundly and unanimously criticized.

John Drent, Surrey

 

 

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