If I were a Muslim I’d be embarrassed

By Diane Weber Bederman

One cannot talk about Muslims or Islam without being accused of racism or religious hatred when in fact it is about culture. We must not speak badly of Islam or Muslim for fear we may upset Muslims and they become radicalized and commit acts of terror. I suggest media pundits have promoted Islamophobia to shame those of us who see the danger in aspects of Islam into keeping quiet.

We have leading thinkers in Canada like Charles Taylor warning us that we are contributing to an anti-Muslim atmosphere in Canada because of the Conservative government’s policies. Lawrence Martin of the Globe and Mail wrote “Mr. Taylor, the well-known philosopher who headed up a Quebec commission on cultural and religious minorities, suggested that the federal Conservatives are surfing on Islamophobic sentiment, which makes alienated Muslim Canadians easier targets for recruitment by radical Islamist terrorists.”

Martin said we must put Taylor’s concerns in a broader context. “It’s not just anti-Muslim rhetoric that puts Canada high on the radar list of enemies, or the upping of the ante by extending the Islamic State mission to Syria.” It’s also that the Harper government shut down the embassy in Tehran, as if that’s a bad thing. He might want to read The Islamic Republic of Iran—State sponsor of Terrorism by Shabnam Assadollahi, human rights advocate and Iran expert.  Martin also suggested Harper has endangered us in the Arab world through unconditional support for Israel. If I understand Taylor’s statements, the last thing we want to do is upset the Arab/Muslim world for fear of the reaction of alienated Muslims in Canada. Is he suggesting Canada should make policy based on the potential actions of Muslims or any other ethnic/culture/ religious group in Canada? Should Canada turn a blind eye to Muslim on Muslim murder and Muslim on Christian murder for fear of hurting the feelings of Muslims in Canada?

If I were a Muslim today, I would be embarrassed by those statements made by Charles Taylor, described as “Canada’s most renowned philosopher.” Other immigrant populations like the Italians, Germans, Chinese, Japanese, the Irish the Jews, and the Sikhs, have suffered in Canada from nasty rhetoric and behaviour and did not lower themselves to acts of terrorism, intimidation or harassment. Yet, Prof. Taylor, who was speaking at the Broadbent Institute said Muslim stereotyping and stigmatization is “sociologically very, very similar” to that faced by Jews in the past. “We’ve got to fight it wherever it comes up.”

Really? Muslim “stereotyping and stigmatization” is similar to the Jewish experience in Canada?

My mother, who was born in Canada, grew up in an anti-Jewish climate. When she went looking for work in the 1930’s her high school teacher told her to change her name. It sounded too Jewish. She went looking for work when

signs read “No Jews.” She lived in a time when there were Jewish quotas at schools, hospitals, businesses and she experienced the reign of the Liberal government who refused to allow Jews to come to Canada, relegating them to the incinerator in Europe-because the Liberals feared losing their Quebec base and Quebecers did not want Jews in Canada.? My mother, a Canadian citizen who happened to be Jewish, had to watch while this country said “None is Too Many” when it came to the Jews. And the esteemed Mr. Taylor is comparing the experience of Muslims today to the experiences of the Jews in this country?

What is the obsession with comparing present day events with the experiences of the Jews over the millennia? The Jewish people have been under attack since recorded history. From atrocities committed for centuries in Arab countries to widespread anti-semitism throughout white Europe leading to the first and God-willing only military-industrial attempt to exterminate an entire people, one can only hope that no other people suffer like the Jews. The Jewish experience should not be the bar to which all other violence is compared. Nothing that has taken place in recent memory compares to the hate for Jews. Nothing.

Now show me Muslims under attack in Canada because of the actions of our government to stop the insanity in the Arab Muslim world. Show me. Show me the discrimination against Muslims in Canada because we are talking about the niqab.Show me. Show me Muslim communities in Canada who have hired extra security, extra, because there is always security required at Jewish facilities particularly since 9/11, around their schools, community centres and cemeteries to protect their people going about their everyday business because of threats to their community.

Jews are bombarded in Canada with calls to annihilate Israel, the Jewish state. Have Muslims in Canada been exposed to cries for the extermination of any Muslim country?

I can show you a rise in anti-Semitism in this country since 2013 I can show you Jewish students on our university

campuses who are harassed and intimidated by anti-Jewish rhetoric calling for the destruction of Israel and hate-filled anti-Semitic Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) events.  There’s Israel Apartheid Week (IAW), an annual anti-Israel event originating in Toronto in 2005 that now exists in 130 cities worldwide, mainly on campuses. Calls to “Kill Jews in Jerusalem” were heard in Toronto, the capital of Ontario, from Queen’s Park at al Quds in 2013 and not a word was heard.  Jewish men and women were beaten up at a rally in Calgary last summer. Hardly a whisper of concern for the Jews.

All I ask is for some facts to prove that the government’s actions are leading to an increase in anti-Muslim behaviour. Show me. And if I am wrong in my assessment, I will apologize. If Martin and Taylor are wrong, will they?

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