There is no Islamophobia in Canada

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There is no Islamophobia in Canada

by Tarek Fatah
The Toronto Sun

Where else in the world would a Catholic prime minister, the leader of its right-wing Christian Conservative opposition, the left-wing party headed by a turbaned Sikh and the head of a separatist party join the city’s mayor, the province’s premier and tens of thousands of ordinary citizens to condemn the horrific mass murder of a Muslim family, allegedly at the hands of home-schooled Christian man?

The answer of course is Canada. The entire nation stood in solidarity with us Muslims, yet the only consensus heard for days since the tragedy is that this country of ours, that opened itself to so many Muslims fleeing tyranny, is itself “Islamophobic.”

What more do we Muslims expect from Canada?

Our impact on Canada has forced almost every urban secondary school to allocate space for makeshift mosques and, at times, cafeterias where Islamic clerics go to give sermons to ensure gender segregation and lecture our youth on how to reject the “western way of life.”

No Buddhist, Hindu, Sikh, Jew or Baha’i demands special prayer rooms inside workplaces, universities, or washrooms to accommodate mid-day washing rituals Muslims undergo. No manager dare says “no” to our request and, if they do, Lord help them en route to the Human Rights complaints office.

Everything we ask we get, including call to prayers on mosque loudspeakers in neighbourhoods where the majority of the population is not even Muslim.

And pray, what do we say during these prayers? Pious and religious Muslims who pray five times a day invoke a verse that refers to Jews as people who have incurred the “wrath of Allah” and Christians as “people who have been led astray.”

The actual verse of the Quran says:

Guide us to the straight path
The way of those upon whom you have bestowed your grace
Not the way of those who have earned your wrath
Nor of those who went astray

From the Quran published in Saudi Arabia to its interpretation by the 8th century jurist Ibn Kathir, all claim that these words or derision are meant to describe Jews and Christians.

The question then is simple: If we Muslims are comfortable denouncing Jews and Christians 48 times a day in our five daily prayers, then isn’t it we who spread hate and then play victim?

If it’s true that Islamophobia exists in Canada, then our country is not alone. Wherever we Muslims live or have moved as a minority, the fact is it is our behaviour in relations with the majority and our contempt for the host community’s religion and civilization has aroused in it this supposed ‘irrational fear’ of our faith Islam or our presence as Muslims.

Be it in France or Russia, the Philippines or India, Mozambique or Nigeria, wherever we exist, a tiny minority of Islamists are bound to emerge, take leadership and trigger conflict with the “kaafirs” (derogatory word for our non-Muslim neighbours).

And we don’t have to go far to gauge the contempt we have for the non-Muslim, be it Hindu or Jew, our main targets.

At the vigil in London, Dr. Munir El-Kassem, an Islamic cleric who once served as the chaplain of the London Police Service, revealed his pent-up feelings by drawing a parallel between the Palestinian-Israel conflict and the tragedy that descended on London. He concluded his remarks by saying, “Whatever is happening in Jerusalem and Gaza, is related to whatever happened in London, Ontario.”

If at all there is Islamophobia across the world, why is it so?

It is time for us Muslims to raise the question we never ask ourselves: If at all there is Islamophobia across the world, why is it so?

Is it because we block the streets in New Delhi and Paris during Friday prayers in an exhibition of piety, but in reality we thumb our nose and declare our superior faith?

Is it because we parade our sisters, daughters, and wives in all-encompassing black burqas over their bodies, even at Wasaga Beach on a sunny day last Friday?

Is it because we have a history of killing each other (as in Yemen, Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan)? Or commit genocide of our own as in Darfur in 2005 and Bangladesh in 1971?

No matter what, the solution to Islamophobia lies within us. Let’s not wear the Muslim Brotherhood political flag on our heads and then pretend it is a command from Allah. Stop dressing up as medieval Arabs when visiting mosques. Stop defending polygamy and child marriage as fundamental Islamic rights, and above all stop trying to sneak Sharia Islamic law into Canada by brokering the Muslim vote bank because there isn’t any such thing.

Tarek Fatah is a Robert J. and Abby B. Levine Fellow at the Middle East Forum, a founder of the Muslim Canadian Congress, and a columnist at the Toronto Sun.