Protecting Canadian free speech rights from allegations of “Islamophobia”

The Government of Canada is proceeding at breakneck pace to address perceived increases in instances of “Islamophobia” while calling for countering “systemic racism and religious discrimination”. This issue was originally raised in Parliament through a House of Commons “E” petition (e-411). This petition received unanimous consent by Canadian Members of Parliament on 26 October, 2016. This was followed in rapid-fire fashion by a second motion sponsored by Iqra Khalid, Member of Parliament from Mississauga Erin-Mills. The first initiative was progressed with little public input and scant interest displayed by the media at-large. The second motion was tabled on 01 December, 2016 and, incredibly, called for the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage to produce related findings and recommendations within 240 calendar days of the motion’s acceptance. It is anticipated that legislative remedies will be front and centre in the Committee’s efforts.

Given Prime Minister Trudeau’s stated goal of obtaining a seat at the United Nations Security Council, pressures from within and outside the country from powerful Islamic lobby groups and the Government’s demonstrated proclivity to progress the “Islamophobia” initiative in slapdash fashion, there is a real risk that our Government will throw the baby out with the bath water by unnecessarily curtailing our fundamental right to “free speech” to accommodate the sensibilities of a specialized group. The risk being what it is, it is critically important that our political leaders understand that no such breach of the rights of Canadian citizens will be countenanced by the people they represent, their bosses – us. Please let them know you are watching. Please review the petition premises and resolution below, aimed at preserving our precious free speech rights in Canada, and sign if you agree:

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Whereas Section 1 of The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees the rights and freedoms set out in it “subject only to such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society”; and
Whereas Section 2.(b) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedomsguarantees “the freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication” as a fundamental right; and
Whereas Section 15.(1) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees that “every individual”, not belief system or ideology, “is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination and, in particular, without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability.”; and
Whereas many good Canadian men and women have fought and died to preserve and project a Canadian value system that embodies these and other Canadian Charter freedoms; and
Whereas certain strains Islam, most notably the Wahhabi brand that has been exported worldwide by Saudia Arabia and is adhered to by terrorist organizations such as the Islamic State, inextricably bind religious beliefs with a political system and a dedicated legal code in the form of Sharia Law, operate as political ideologies that do not merit the imposition of “reasonable limits” to curtail the fundamental Charter right of Canadians to speak freely; and
Whereas, Sharia Law harbours many Islamic principles and doctrines that are antithetical to Canadian values and used by terrorist organizations, such as the Islamic State and al-Shabaab, to justify holy war against non-Muslims; and
Whereas, some Canadians have chosen, and continue to choose, to support such terrorist organizations by fighting jihad on their behalf both at home and abroad against Canadian national security interests and personnel;
Be it resolved that it is in the public interest to allow all Canadians to freely discuss and make fair comment on all aspects of Islam through all forms of communication as they would any other religious belief system, political enterprise or legal code without fear of recrimination and/ or persecution by “hate speech” laws.
It needs to be noted that the whole issue of “Islamophobia” got off to a weak start as the term was introduced into the lexicon of the Federal Government with little or no discussion of its meaning or origin. It is a fairly new term purpose-built and defined as a “hatred or fear of Muslims or of their politics or culture”. Its use, in both the “E” petition and the Khalid motion, is troubling as it speaks not just to the need to protect individuals from discrimination on the basis of religion, as is guaranteed in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, but potentially calls up a need to protect the “politics and culture” of Islam from criticism as a special case. It is essential to note that these latter protections are not congruent with Canadian Charter requirements but are consistent with defamation and blasphemy tenets resident within Islamic Sharia Law.

It is here, unfortunately, that the plot thickens. This is the case as the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has been officially tracking a parallel course to introduce Islamic defamation and blasphemy laws into non-Muslim nations, worldwide, since 2005. At that time, a dedicated 10 year OIC “Strategic Action Plan” was initiated with a mind to having the United Nations adopt an international resolution to counter “Islamophobia” and call upon all states to enact laws to deter such related activities – with punishment if need be. This push resulted in the passage of United Nations Human Rights Council Resolution 16/18 in July, 2011. Importantly, this resolution flowed from the Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam that was formulated by the same OIC in 1990. This latter declaration, in Articles 24 and 25, established the frame of reference for human rights as Sharia and determined that “all the rights and freedoms stipulated in this Declaration are subject to the Islamic Shari’ah”. This development, now sanctioned by United Nations resolution 16/ 18, stands in stark contrast to the freedoms that have evolved from the English Common Law system over 800 years since the advent of Magna Carta.

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