In preparation for the National Summit on so-called Islamophobia last Thursday, the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) released a series of recommendations that reveal an agenda of separation, not integration.
As its report rightly states, Canadian Muslims are not a monolithic group. However, there was little presence of any diversity that makes up the Canadian Muslim community. Voices of Kurdish, Iranian, Baloch and anti-Taliban Afghans were absent as were those of North African Francophone Muslims largely settled in Quebec.
It was a jamboree of victimhood-seeking Islamists who have always desired Sharia law in Canada over the decades. In contrast, Muslims who have escaped the tyranny of Sharia and have integrated into mainstream Canadian society were rebuffed. Those who seek a worldwide caliphate over the skeleton of Western civilization were celebrated by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the Liberal party's vote-bank machine.
This love affair between the Liberal party (Conservatives and the NDP being no exception) and Canada's Islamists did not go unchallenged.
The Montreal-based Association Québécoise des Nord-Africains pour la laïcité (AQNAL), led by University of Montreal Prof. Nadia El-Mabrouk, issued a scathing critique of Muslims who seek to influence public policy by playing the victim card of Islamophobia.
In a statement AQNAL said, as Canadian citizens of Muslim culture or religion, we welcome all initiatives to combat hatred and intolerance and to foster social cohesion and understanding among citizens. "However, not only do we not see any social cohesion in the NCCM recommendations," the largely North African Quebecois Muslims said they "consider the NCCM report as only exacerbating tensions that accentuate anti-Muslim feelings."
The AQNAL statement was co-signed by Ensaf Haider, wife of Saudi-imprisoned human rights activist Raif Badawi, a number of secular Muslims from English Canada (including yours truly), Raheel Raza of the Council of Muslims Seeking Tomorrow, and ordinary liberal Muslims who are themselves targeted by Islamists.
The statement that was ignored by the media in English Canada but ran in La Presse newspaper said: "As numerous surveys have shown, it is not Islam but religious fundamentalism, and in particular religious accommodation, that arouses distrust among Canadian citizens. A 2017 survey, for example, found that 67% of Quebecers and 61% of Canadians believe that religious accommodations requested by Muslims show that they don't really want to integrate and that anger towards them is justified.'"
The NCCM opposition to Quebec's Bill 21 drew particular ire from the statement signed by anti-Islamist Muslims across the country.
The NCCM opposes Bill, which 21 requires that certain public officials, including teachers, not wear religious symbols.
The Bill 21 Law requires that certain public officials in positions of authority, including teachers, not wear religious symbols, in order to respect the freedom of conscience of all citizens.
One of the effects of Bill 21 is to limit the social pressure of the Islamic veil on young Muslim girls in public schools. However, Bill 21 is under attack by Islamists and the NCCM. Quebecers are accused of racism and islamophobia because of their attachment to secularism.
Bill 21 would limit social pressure to veil on young Muslim girls in public schools.
This stubborn attack on the fundamental values of the Quebec nation can only exacerbate anger towards Muslims.
If at all Islam appears frightening, it is because of Islamist terror attacks throughout the world, offensives against human rights in countries where Islam is dominant, but also because of the entry of Islamist ideology in the West, notably through the imposition of the Islamic veil for women.
The Islamic threat, particularly from the theocratic regime of Iran, financiers in Saudi Arabia and the Pakistan jihadi military which is willing to do anything to defend their backward vision of Islam, is very real. Canadians are aware of this. Yet, the NCCM makes no mention of the need to combat this retrograde and violent manifestation of Islam.
The statement by Canada's secular Muslims concluded: "We are Canadian citizens of Tunisian, Algerian, Egyptian, Palestinian, Afghan, Pakistani origin, all of whom have different cultures and different relationships to religion and faith. We want our children to be seen as Canadian citizens before any other identity and we refuse to allow the school system to be manipulated to push them into the silo of political Islam via victimhood."
Is that too much to ask for? Why is the rest of Canada silent as its values are trampled upon by those who seek a Caliphate instead of the Commons?
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.