Last Thursday, the Canadian Parliament voted overwhelmingly for a motion to condemn Islamophobia, as proposed by rookie Liberal MP Iqra Khalid.
A reflection of Parliament’s moral position, a motion has no legal force. However, this one has certainly stirred the Canadian public, only 29 percent of whom supported it, according to a poll released on the day it came to the House floor for a vote.
Many feel that adoption of the term “Islamophobia” in the motion, which is poorly understood politically and academically, is ill-advised and potentially captures any negative comments made about the religion of Islam, thereby stifling free speech.
For example: Would the publication of cartoons satirizing the prophet Mohammed be “Islamophobic”? Such conduct, in recent years in Copenhagen and Paris, was deemed to be “Islamophobic” and was the direct cause of multiple murders of magazine editors and cartoonists.
Free speech and accountability are the foundational principles of all democracies, however flawed. Quite justifiably, many Canadians are asking: Are we able to criticize Islam? Or does doing so render us “Islamophobic?”
Discrimination against an individual due to religious belief is prohibited by Canadian law, as is advocating genocide or promoting hatred and violence against individuals of a particular religion.
Which is exactly what seems to be occurring with alarming frequency in some Canadian mosques, and about which our government seems unconcerned.