Ibrahim Hindy is the Imam of Dar Al-Tawheed Islamic Centre in Mississauga, Ontario.
There have been a number of posts featuring NZ’s [New Zealand] PM, Jacinda Ardern, and how she’s responded to the New Zealand terrorist attacks with grace and compassion. She has looked sincerely grieved by the events and has said all the right things.
After the Quebec Mosque Shootings, Justin Trudeau also said all the right things. In fact, this past Sunday, he took time out of his schedule to visit a Mosque in Ottawa to speak to the community – and again addressed the tragedies in New Zealand in Parliament.
But there’s been a large difference between Jacinda and Justin.
After the Quebec Mosque attack, Justin [Trudeau] said all the right things too. And he wept, I believe sincerely, during the funeral prayers for the deceased.
But after the tears dried, and the media moved on to other stories, we – as a community – were left with nothing.
Of course, we had the large M103 debates in the aftermath of the shootings. Remember those? The right wing mobilized to fight, through lies and half-truths, against a mere motion to condemn the existence of Islamophobia and a pledge to study the issue.
The Muslim community faced assault after assault from the far-right over M103. Some of us got death threats. More received hate mail. White supremacists and their supporters protested every week. And what did we get for all that abuse?
Well M103 passed, but when it came to committee, most Liberal MPs were terrified of being associated with M103, so they backed away from being too engaged with the committee process. Meanwhile the conservatives filled the room with highly problematic voices, and the final report was incredibly weak and flawed.
And that’s it.
[Alexandre ] Bissonette wasn’t charged with terrorism. The Muslim community asked for an inquiry over the Quebec Mosque shooting and the government ignored that request.
The Muslim community asked for Jan 29 to be recognized as a national day against Islamophobia, and two years have passed with the government neglecting that request as well.
There have been no substantial directives to how law enforcement (RCMP, CSIS, etc) tracks white supremacists and far right extremists. The next Alexander Bissonnette will likely walk into the next mosque undetected by our national security apparatus.
Justin [Trudeau] and Jacinda [Ardern] might have shared similar platitudes, but behind Ardern’s emotions have been concrete policy choices.
New Zealand immediately moved to ban assault rifles, and within days announced a national inquiry to study why the shooter hadn’t been on the radar of law enforcement. They’ve already announced a national day of mourning for the 50 victims of the Christchurch shootings.
They’ve gone even beyond that. New Zealand’s PM Jacinda Ardern has turned her attention to the complicity of social media platforms in the proliferation of hatred and incitement of violence. She said “We cannot simply sit back and accept that these platforms just exist and that what is said on them is not the responsibility of the place where they are published … It cannot be a case of all profit, no responsibility.” But in Canada, Facebook threatened to withhold job creation unless Canada adopted data policies that favoured Facebook, and the government complied.
Let me be clear: I don’t intend this as a partisan attack. In fact, I don’t care for partisan politics. My focus is entirely on the survival of the Muslim community in Canada as it faces a very real and deadly existential threat.
And we’re often stuck with either liberal politicians who say the right things, but fear pursuing the right policies in case it lands them in the cross-hairs of very nasty and unrelenting far-right smear campaigns, or with conservative politicians who give space for the far-right to push its narratives into the mainstream and vilify the Muslim community even further.
I know I’m not likely to make many friends with this post. But after fifty lives lost in Christchurch and six lost in Quebec City – it’s a deal we can’t afford to live with any more.