The Canadian Parliament Finds Time to Condemn Islamophobia, but Not Anti-Semitism

March 31 2017

Canada’s legislature passed a motion last week condemning “Islamophobia.” Although it has no legal force, Vivian Bercovici is disturbed by its implications, not to mention the parliament’s silence concerning a greater problem:

Many feel that the adoption of the term “Islamophobia” in the motion, [which makes no effort to define it], 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 Muhammad 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. . . .

Discrimination against an individual due to religious belief is [already] 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 the government seems unconcerned. Also, last Thursday, when the House voted on the Islamophobia motion, it was reported that in a recent sermon at a Montreal mosque, the imam spoke of the “disease of the Jews” [and advocated their murder]. . . . The mosque has posted the sermon on YouTube. . . .

In 2014, the most recent year for which there are statistics, there were 99 reported hate-based incidents involving the 1.2-million Canadian Muslims; and 1,627 such incidents targeting Canada’s 375,000 Jews. You do the math. . . .

One year ago, a motion condemning the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement and anti-Semitism was introduced in the parliament. . . . Iqra Khalid, [the Liberal MP who introduced the Islamophobia resolution], was not present for that vote. In fact, an observer who was in the House recalls that when the vote came to the floor, many Liberal MPs stood up and walked out. Forty-three of the 185 members of the Liberal caucus were absent for the BDS/anti-Semitism vote, and they did not all have dentist appointments or a sudden case of the flu.

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Read more at Commentary

More about: Anti-Semitism, Canada, Islamophobia, Politics & Current Affairs

Iran, America, and the Future of Democracy in the Middle East

Nov. 23 2022

Sixty-two days after the death of Mahsa Amini at the hands of the Islamic Republic’s police, the regime has failed to quash the protest movement. But it is impossible to know if the tide will turn, and what the outcome of the government’s collapse might be. Reuel Marc Gerecht considers the very real possibility that a democratic Iran will emerge, and considers the aftershocks that might follow. (Free registration required.)

American political and intellectual elites remain uneasy with democracy promotion everywhere primarily because it has failed so far in the Middle East, the epicenter of our attention the last twenty years. (Iraq’s democracy isn’t dead, but it didn’t meet American expectations.) Might our dictatorial exception for Middle Eastern Muslims change if Iran were to set in motion insurrections elsewhere in the Islamic world, in much the same way that America’s response to 9/11 probably helped to produce the rebellions against dictatorship that started in Tunisia in 2010? The failure of the so-called Arab Spring to establish one functioning democracy, the retreat of secular democracy in Turkey, and the implosion of large parts of the Arab world have left many wondering whether Middle Eastern Muslims can sustain representative government.

In 1979 the Islamic revolution shook the Middle East, putting religious militancy into overdrive and tempting Saddam Hussein to unleash his bloodiest war. The collapse of Iran’s theocracy might be similarly seismic. Washington’s dictatorial preference could fade as the contradictions between Arab tyranny and Persian democracy grow.

Washington isn’t yet invested in democracy in Iran. Yet, as Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has often noted, American hostility toward the Islamic Republic has been damaging. If the theocracy falls, Iranians will surely give America credit—vastly more credit that they will give to the European political class, who have been trying to make nice, and make money, with the clerical regime since the early 1990s—for this lasting enmity. We may well get more credit than we deserve. Both Democrats and Republicans who have dismissed the possibilities of democratic revolutions among the Muslim peoples of the Middle East will still, surely, claim it eagerly.

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Read more at Dispatch

More about: Arab democracy, Democracy, Iran, Middle East, U.S. Foreign policy