Books lead us into realms we are either familiar with or would like to explore. Honouring that, we take it further with book discussions. If we carefully build our bookclubs, our discussions can be enlightening with the width and breadth of wide-ranging opinions. The trick is to learn how to be respectful and open-minded while engaged in dialogue. But that skill, and it is a skill — on learning how to hear negative things about our viewpoints — helps to challenge our biases.
It is with dismay that I see a current motion before our Canadian House of Commons that threatens to limit discussion on one religion, Motion M103. When MP David Anderson suggested that Islamophobia be removed and all religions be the focus, Iqra Khalid who proposed the motion thought that would water down the motion!!!
I don’t think she understands what Canada is all about. We have our Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Our country’s history shows mistakes we have committed. In striving for a generalization, the well meaning white people who governed Canada in the past have brought residential schools, internment camps for Asians during World War II, the elimination of a black neighborhood in Halifax in the 1960s… Gosh, there is a lot of stuff we can feel guilty about.
But in all that “regretful and guilt-ridden” past, we have always been free to discuss and argue the ethnic, religious, and cultural issues around our mistakes. This motion wants us to make another mistake. If this motion is passed we will be freezing the ideology/religion of Islam in time. A bunch of well-meaning white people will make it an offense to talk about Islam, to discuss it, to point out the negative things like the extremism, the religious laws that discount and degrade women, children, and homosexuals. Those are all real, rational fears. So who decides when those fears are part of Islamophobia? And what qualifies those deciders?
The Christian Old Testament has some horrific ideas about women and children which have thankfully evolved into the New Testament. For that evolution to happen, discussions had to occur, slow in the dark ages but Christianity did progress. Still to this day, people argue and dispute Christianity, especially the extremely fundamentalist views.
M103 threatens the evolution of Islam, forcing it into the Dark Age of restriction. If this motion passes, we will be saying that the current view of Islam is correct, that anyone who disagrees with an irrational fear, including past adherents who no longer believe cannot discuss the issues around Islam. The current school of thought says that the moderate Islamic must dispute and say no to radical viewpoints within their communities.
So what should a bunch of white liberal people in the Canadian House of Commons do with M103 when the secondary recorded vote happens in early April? It must not pass. We must allow Islam to evolve through discussion, criticism, and yes there will be some racism. We need to do better than giving into white people’s guilt and passing a motion that restricts our fundamental freedom to discuss. The passage of M103 would protect Islam enough to allow inroads for radical Islam and Sharia Law. The Islamic moderates who are trying to modernized their religion will be stopped. The women who don’t want to adhere to Islam will be pulled back into the religion, unwilling participants. By passing M103, we would create a fear of talking and a culture of silence.
Remember, you live in Canada. Let us not make the same reoccurring mistake of being patriarchal and thinking one small segment of society who supports motion M103 knows best for all of Canada. Many historical immigrants to Canada have experienced racism but we all survived. You will survive without M103 as you are protected by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. We will survive without M103 and will be better off for allowing the hard truths of Islam to evolve inside Canada’s democracy.
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March 24, 2017