The Canadian House of Commons has passed motion M103 which singles out the criticism of Islam as a form of “Islamophobia”. Critics condemn it as an attack on free speech.
Motion M103 was tabled by Iqra Khalid, a Muslim member of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party. It states the government must “condemn Islamophobia and all forms of systemic racism and religious discrimination”, was taken to vote on Thursday evening where a total of 201 MPs voted for it and only 91 voted against, Canadian broadcaster Global News reports.
The text of the motion does not clarify what constitutes “Islamophobia” and has led many to speculate what that may mean in the future, with some critics fearing it could lead to Shariah law courts. This concern has led to the circulation of an anti-Shariah petition on the Parliament of Canada website, which has so far been signed by over 24,000 people.
Ms. Khalid, who was born in Pakistan and moved to the UK and then to Canada, said the definition of Islamophobia was: “The irrational hate of Muslims that leads to discrimination.”
When Conservatives asked her to remove Islamophobia from the motion, she said: “I will not do so, any more than I would speak to the Holocaust and not mention that the overwhelming majority of victims were six million followers of the Jewish faith and that anti-Semitism was the root cause of the Holocaust.”
Another part of the bill that has stirred controversy is the passage that asks the government to “recognise the need to quell the increasing public climate of hate and fear”. It is currently unknown what measures the government will take to “quell” “hate and fear” as the motion is not classified as a law and has no effect on current criminal law.
The Conservative Party of Canada are currently holding leadership elections and many of the candidates have come out against M103 including one of the frontrunners, Quebecer Maxime Bernier. Mr. Bernier, a conservative with libertarian free market leanings, said he voted against the bill tweeting: “Free speech is the most fundamental right we have. I am opposed to
#m103. Canadians should be treated equally regardless of religion.”
— Maxime Bernier (@MaximeBernier) January 26, 2017
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who during the election campaign championed Muslim women wearing hijabs and full face niqabs, dropped an appeal by the previous government that would not allow women to wear niqabs to Canadian citizenship ceremonies.
Trudeau has also appeared at many mosques, including one where the women weren’t allowed in the main prayer room with the men but were forced to pray in a separate area upstairs.
The self-proclaimed “feminist” Prime Minister said: “Diversity is a source of strength, not just a source of weakness, and as I look at this beautiful room — sisters upstairs — everyone here, (I see) the diversity we have just within this mosque, within the Islamic community, within the Muslim community in Canada.”
Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at firstname.lastname@example.org