Huffingtonpost : “Political Right Must Reflect On Its Role In Quebec Mosque Attack” [Thomas Woodley]

Labour Minister Kellie Leitch responds to a question during question period in the House of Commons Thursday December 4, 2014 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

While details are still unfolding on the Quebec City mosque attack Sunday night, there is little question that the shooters were motivated by hate for Muslims. As such, Quebec and Canadian political leaders should take a long hard look at how their statements and actions may exacerbate such hate.

Quebec Muslims rightly see the Quebec City mosque killings as just the latest escalation in a trend of growing harassment against Canada’s Muslims. “The Muslim community in Quebec is suffering from a flood of hate attacks, […] and now the attacks are escalating and bringing […] the death of innocent people,” lamented Samer Majzoub, president of the Canadian Muslim Forum.

“It is the demagogues of our time who may be particularly to blame.”

There is no question that Islam worldwide has a problem of radical extremist violence. Fittingly, mainstream Muslim leaders — in Canada and elsewhere — have consistently condemned such violence. And while Canadian political leaders are also right to condemn Muslim extremist violence in Europe and elsewhere, they must be careful not to say things that inflame latent prejudice against Canada’s Muslim community.

It may be months before we learn the twisted motives of the killers in the mosque attack, but it is certainly not unreasonable to suppose that U.S. President Donald Trump’s de facto Muslim travel ban might have played a role in encouraging the attack. Because whether they are Trump or anyone else, the statements and actions of our political leaders can easily legitimize unacceptable attitudes or behaviour in society.

An ambulance is parked at the scene of a fatal shooting at the Quebec Islamic Cultural Centre in Quebec City, Canada January 29, 2017. REUTERS/Mathieu Belanger TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

It is the demagogues of our time who may be particularly to blame. MP Kellie Leitch is one apt example that comes to mind. In 2015, Leitch was the front-woman for the Harper government’s “barbaric practices tip line,” which falsely but implicitly suggested that Canadian Muslims maintain practices which are already illegal under Canadian law, like forced marriages and honour killings. Now as a Conservative leadership candidate, Lietch has upped the ante in her anti-Muslim rhetoric by calling for the screening of “immigrants, refugees and visitors” for “anti-Canadian values.”

Leitch was part of a Harper government which stoked anti-Muslim sentiment for years. For example, Harper consistently played off the danger of extremist Islamic terror, stating in 2011 that “Islamicism” was the biggest threat facing Canada. As one critic put it at the time, “Harper never loses a chance to invoke the spectre of Islamist terrorism.”

Labour Minister Kellie Leitch responds to a question during question period in the House of Commons Thursday December 4, 2014 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

One high-visibility manifestation of Harper’s anti-Muslim bias was his decision to block Muslim refugees from receiving asylum in Canada. Another was his attempt to prevent Muslim women from wearing the niqab during citizenship ceremonies — a case which he lost, but which dragged publicly through the courts for months.

After seeing Harper repeatedly lose this case in the courts, one commentator authored a piece, “Call the niqab issue what it is — a shameless play for the bigot vote.”

In Quebec, the Parti Quebecois government of Pauline Marois proposed an infamous law in 2013 known as the “Charter of Values” which had a deep anti-Muslim focus. This bill, proposing the banning of many religious symbols — such as the hijab — in the public service, severely exacerbated anti-Muslim currents in the province. Quebecers experienced déjà vu this past fall when conservative Quebec politician François Legault resurrected some of the very same issues relating to Muslim dress.

“Gestures and words on the part of our politicians do matter.”

 Many of Canada’s Muslims have fled to Canada as witnesses of violence, oppression and terrorism themselves. It is therefore ironic that they are now targeted by conservative politicians in Canada somehow as a “source” of extremism. In fact, given their first-hand experience with oppression and violence, they are often the most ardent defenders of the liberties that many Canadians take for granted.

Indeed, Majzoub concludes his statement on the attack by stating, “This massacre does not represent the values Quebecers and Canadians, [like those] of peace, equality and freedom of belief.”

Gestures and words on the part of our politicians do matter. We may never know what drove the attackers to murder six people praying in their Quebec City mosque this past weekend. However, we can be certain that fear-mongering language from our politicians can only be dangerous and counter-productive to a healthy and unified Canadian society.

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  1. WHITE ..NON-Muslim KILLS innocent MUSLIMS with an assault Rifle in a Muslim place of worship and yet no Headline news nor title of TERRORIST but instead ‘ a loner, nerdy ‘gunman’ !!!!

    You media owning Zionist hypocrites !!!! a FAN of the orange Islamophobe president of the USA. Trump is to the western right what ISIS is to the Eastern right, 2 peas, one pod. Trump in a tweet on 11 January 2017: “Are we living in Nazi Germany?” You are now. White House tried to justify their nonsense immigration ban by using the Canada Mosque murders as an example as to why these bans are needed, today not a word!

    MUSLIMS now of course equally must demand a MILLION man march by non MUSLIMS ..not in their name nor their Faith to blame as clearly this is otherwise how Muslims should equally paint everyone with the same brush ! but no our faith teaches us not to !

    The French-Canadian student charged in connection with a shooting spree that killed six people at a Quebec City mosque was a supporter Donald Trump and far-right French politician Marine Le Pen.

    Described by one former classmate as a “nerdy outcast.” Alexandre Bissonnette, is the sole suspect in the shooting. The 27-year-old was charged with six counts of first-degree murder and five counts of attempted murder with a restricted weapon. Police said he acted alone.

    Bissonnette’s online profiles show a wide variety of interests. On his Facebook page, he indicated he liked Le Pen, US President Donald Trump, the separatist Party Quebecois as well as Canada’s left-wing New Democratic Party, the Israeli Defense Forces, heavy metal band Megadeth and pop star Katy Perry.

    “I wrote him off as a xenophobe. I didn’t even think of him as totally racist, but he was enthralled by a borderline racist nationalist movement,” Vincent Boissoneault, a fellow Laval University student, told The Globe and Mail newspaper. He said they frequently clashed over Bissonnette’s opinions about refugees and support for Le Pen and Trump.

    The University Laval confirmed on Monday that Bissonnette was a social science student there.

    Society reaps what it sows. Too often socially awkward children are moulded into monsters. The ease with which guns can be purchased and used in North America and Canada is criminal. Any government who places the safety of its people below the freedom to manufacture and distribute arms for general consumption has failed in its primary objective. The gun lobby is so powerful it should be regarded as a separate political entity without social responsibility. I thought we knew that ‘nerdy no-mates’ and weapons don’t mix. I wonder how/where this one got the alleged assault rifle he apparently used, and whether it was issued to him. Shouldn’t there be psychological testing before issuing a weapons licence to anyone in a democracy ?

    The Black Lives Matter movement’s mere existence spurred Dylan Roof to commit a terror attack against black people, what did you honestly expect to happen when the US President keeps saying that Muslims are coming to KILL Westerners? “They’re on their way, they’re pouring into the continent as we speak, LOOK OUT THERE’S ONE RIGHT BEHIND YOU!!” Trump is just the most recent most extreme example of this hysterical narrative that’s been going on for 15 years now. And you’re still 250x more likely to die in a regular murder than in a terror attack- that’s now small the chances really are. Different story if you live in Aleppo though!

    To all of you who are claiming that there’s no way that there’s any link between this terrorist being a Trump supporter and the fact that he attacked Muslims right after Trump’s Muslim ban, remember a couple things: 1. This guy is still alive!! There’s going to be a trial and I’m sure he can explain exactly what led him to commit this attack. 2. He gave himself up out of guilt, so his loyalty to the alt-right cause seems pretty tenuous.

    Funny though: Aren’t you the same lot always demanding that Muslims collectively take responsibility for Islamic terrorism? Where are the calls for the right wing to ‘denounce this attack’? Why is it suddenly “this is nothing to do with us” anytime the tables turn?


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