OPINION: Islamophobia motion is naïve

Federal Motion 103 exemplifies the kind of dangerous naïveté and ivory-tower political correctness that stifles debate and erodes democratic ideals.

M-103 is a non-binding motion introduced in Parliament by Muslim MP Iqra Khalid. The motion exhorts the government to “condemn Islamophobia and all forms of systemic racism and religious discrimination.” What’s wrong with this sentiment? A lot.

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First, “Islamophobia” is not defined in the motion, although Khalid herself has been quoted as saying it is defined as the “irrational hate of Muslims that leads to discrimination.”

That is a purposeful misuse of words. A phobia is generally defined as an “irrational or extreme” fear, not an “irrational hate.” Khalid’s definition immediately links hatred with discrimination, a connection that implies that one’s thoughts or feelings about another group or person, in and of themselves, are somehow discriminatory or inevitably lead to discrimination. George Orwell himself could not have drafted a more fitting example of a thoughtcrime.

Second, the motion selects Muslims as a special group worthy of special protection or consideration. Why? Yes, there was one shooting incident in Quebec recently. But is Canada roiled by anti-Islamic marches, hate speech or mosque bombings? No. In fact, Canada has accepted thousands of (Muslim) Syrian refugees and is set to accept more. Canada is, in fact, a haven for Muslims. The motion insults all Canadians by asking the government to “recognize the need to quell the increasing public climate of hate and fear” at a time when taxpayers are supporting thousands of Muslim refugees.

Third, and perhaps most importantly, Islam is a religion. Religions are merely a set of ideas and beliefs, subject to criticism and debate.

The motion, by conflating Islam with individual Muslims (“Islamophobia”), attempts to shield Islam and Muslims from opposing views. Islam, as Sam Harris has said, is full of bad ideas. These include the persecution (and killing) of gays; marriage of young girls to elderly men; suicide bombing; the killing of apostates; and the killing of those who dare to draw cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed.

These are not beliefs worth defending, and if you hold them then I am opposed to you. But your religion does not inform my opposition. If you hold such beliefs because you are Muslim, I am against you. If you hold them because you are Christian, I am against you. If you hold them because you are a Nazi, I am against you. I am against you because my beliefs and values are informed by liberal democratic ideals, such as freedom of speech, universal human rights and civil liberty.

Parliament shouldadopt a motion addressing Islam. But that motion should recognize why many people in liberal democracies fear – quite rationally – the tenets of that faith. The motion should express support for Muslim reformers and urge greater awareness amongst Muslims of the dangerous and regressive ideas inherent in many of Islam’s teachings and beliefs.

Until M-103 contains that sort of language, it serves only as a reminder that some in our society are more interested in dividing Canadians into groups and sub-groups rather than uniting us behind the liberal democratic ideals that have guided this country for the past 150 years.

Robert A. Finlay is a Burnaby resident.

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