On October 26th, the media was clearly taking a rare holiday, because Canadian federal government passed an anti-Islamophobia motion and it went largely ignored by the media. Though major news outlets were falling over themselves when a similar motion failed on October 6th, when this motion passed, they were disappointingly absent. So it begs the question, what were they doing?
To give you the scoop without further delay, here’s what’s wrong with this situation:
The Muslim-Canadian community deserves better than for this motion to pass silently.
Hate crime lawyer, June Chua, writes about the symbolic value of the motion for Yahoo News:
“The symbolism of it is the biggest impact. It’s meant to stigmatize that hate crime, which is good. It says clearly that attitudes socially are changing.”
The difficulty, of course, of the motion generating greater stigma for those expressing or acting on anti-Islamic views, is that the motion would have to be known about, and talked about.
The motion is very, very needed… as Islamophobia is on the rise in may Western countries.
Apart from the plentiful institutional and passive forms of Islamophobia, there has also been a huge surge of direct, active and pre-meditated displays, aggressions and cruelty directed at the Muslim community across the country. Statistics Canada identifies that hate crimes against Muslims reported to police have more than doubled over the past three years. The National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) reports that October saw more hate crimes against the Canadian Muslim community than any month this year, so far.
Need we mention that the lack of media attention seems fairly (and ironically) Islamophobic? Perhaps we shouldn’t, because when Liberal MP Omar Alghabra pointed this out, he was bombarded with violently racist backlash:
— Rasp (@DailyRasp) October 6, 2016
And of course, we’re never free of the Drumpf supporting Americans chiming in, asking for their bigot king to “build a wall to the North.”
So while the motion has good intentions, will it actually change anything, or anyone?
Sure, the motion passing makes most people feel a little bit better. It means to shame and prevent actions and words which are undertaken in an attempt to humiliate, isolate, frighten, endanger, or injure Muslims. This also extends to damage or vandalism of property.
But unfortunately we can’t be sure this motion is going to do a single thing to help improve the worsening situation. It is surely a step to a more equitable Canada for all citizens, but it would demean the struggles faced by the Canadian Islamic community to look to a motion to be a quick-fix, cure-all, solution.