If the House of Commons passes a motion condemning Islamophobia and all types of religious discrimination, it could show the world that Canada is at the forefront of combatting intolerance, says the president of the Islamic Society of Ridge Meadows.
It would also show that Canada’s moving towards a more equal society, said Ahmed Yousef, with the society.
“It would speak to Canada continuing to be a world leader and a forward-thinking super-power … while other governments are taking steps backward, toward more Islamophobic laws and regulations,” Yousef said Thursday.
Canada could be seen as a leader in fighting oppression, even by some Muslim governments who oppress their own people, he added.
Toronto Liberal MP Iqra Khalid introduced a motion this past week in Ottawa calling for all MPs to condemn Islamophobia “and all forms of systemic racism and religious discrimination.”
She also asked that the government develop a plan to reduce religious discrimination, “including Islamophobia,” and to collect data on hate crime incidents and work to help communities that have been affected.
But Mike Murray, a former Conservative candidate in Maple Ridge, said the motion is too narrow and should mention all religions.
A motion isn’t a law, but a statement about the will of the House, Murray added.
“I don’t think by singling out a particular religious group … that would be a positive thing to do,” said Murray.
Instead, Murray supports the Conservative motion made on Thursday that would broaden the statement to include all religions.
The Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms and the Criminal Code protects various religions, he added.
Islamophobia hasn’t been defined, he added. “It leaves undetermined what actions or words would be deemed to be Islamophobic.”
Murray said he’s not against the spirit of the motion.
“But I do think you have to clarify things correctly and make sure that it’s not singling out one particular religious group, based on a particular event.”
On Jan. 29, six people were killed in a mass shooting as they worshipped in a Quebec City mosque.
“I would support the opposition’s motion … that discrimination against all religions is condemned,” said Murray who ran for the Conservatives in Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge in the 2015 federal election.
“I would like to see a unifying motion that would bring everybody together.”
Yousef is also circulating a link to an online petition asking people to sign and e-mail back.
Yousef said Islamophobia is a new word. But that’s because Muslims are the current targets of religious intolerance.
“Anti-Semitism was not a term that was commonly used prior to World War Two and the Holocaust, but it came into use as a result of human behaviour.”
He understands that some might oppose mentioning one particular religion, but this is the one that’s now being persecuted, and including all religions would be difficult.
“Islamophobia is the result of the current, and for the past decade and a half, persecution in the media, more than anything else, and in rhetoric, and now we’re seeing the actual physical attacks that are being carried out against Muslims.
“It’s a matter of identifying the group that is most persecuted nowadays,” rather than giving one religion preference over another.
Yousef said reports will label any attack by a Muslim as a terrorist incident, while an attack by a non-Muslim is considered a lone attack.
Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge Liberal MP Dan Ruimy didn’t respond to inquiries about if he’ll support the bill.
“Knowing him and knowing his character, I would be shocked and surprised if he voted against it,” Yousef said.