Islam

Hate Crime

In recent light of the terrorist attacks in France, there’s been an outpour of support and sympathy for the victims and their loved ones.  Despite this support, there has also been underlying fear and anger within France and across the globe. Certain communities have become victims of racist slurs, violence and hate crimes.

What is a hate crime?

According to the Criminal Code of Canada hate crimes consist of crimes committed to intimidate, harm, or terrify an entire group of people (i.e. race or ethnicity) to which the victim belongs. Victims are targeted for belonging to that particular group, not because of their personal actions.  Motives for hate crime include intimidation, harassment, physical force/threat of physical force against a person, group or property.

Hate Crime in Ontario

Since the attack in France, there have been multiple examples of hate crimes. The windows of a Hindu temple in Waterloo were broken while the pandit (priest) was at a vigil for the victims of the attack in France. A mosque in Peterborough was burnt down and suffered over $80,000 in damages. Fortunately, the community came together and raised $90,000 to rebuild the mosque. The police declared it to be arson.  Someone altered a thirteen year old Sikh boy’s picture on Facebook to look like a terrorist. The person who altered the picture using Photoshop then suggested the young boy was involved in the Paris attack.

The most recent hate crime consisted of a Muslim woman who was the target of a robbery.  The victim was picking up her children from school when the assailant, who was identified as a Caucasian male, grabbed the garb on the woman’s head to throw her to the ground. He then continued to physically assault the woman by punching her stomach. As the woman pleaded with the man to stop, he told her she didn’t belong in Canada and referred to her as a piece of sh-t.  This particular assault is being treated as a hate crime.

niqabNumerous Muslims feel targeted by Islamophobes and feel like they’re receiving the brunt for actions they had no part in and do not condone. Muslims have taken to social media to advocate against the terrorist attacks and argue that the Quran does not teach Muslims to kill innocent people. Many Islamist sympathizers have gone far as to say that ISIS does not have a religion as no religion preaches terror. However, individuals continue to target these groups.  Many members of the Hindu and Sikh community have also been victims of racial slurs and verbal abuse as individuals are not able to differentiate between religions.

Many South Asians are disturbed by how quickly attitudes towards their cultures and religions have pivoted; after all, only recently many South Asians were rejoicing at the appointment of a Sikh defense minister and today many South Asians are suffering from the backlash of events they had no part in. While some individuals from the Sikh, Hindu and Muslim community are optimistic that the racism and hate will deplete after the shock has settled, others are still concerned about the future impact of similar attacks.

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Points of Discussion: What are your thoughts?

Do you know someone who was the victim of hate slurs?

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The Niqab Debate

niqabWhat is a niqab? A niqab is a scarf used to cover a woman’s face except her eyes. Her breasts, hair, ears are covered with a separate scarf. This is different from the hijab which leaves the entire face exposed and burka which covers the entire body and leaves a mesh screen over the eyes to see through.

Ms. Ishaq, of Mississauga, Ontario continues her fight against the government to wear a niqab while swearing an oath of citizenship to become a Canadian. The Stephen Harper government banned this practice but Ms. Ishaq filed an appeal. In the appeal, the Federal court decided to lift the ban on the niqab as it violated government regulations.

Federal Judge Keith Boswell stated that it “interferes with a citizenship judge’s duty to allow candidates for citizenship the greatest possible freedom in the religious solemnization or the solemn affirmation of the oath.”

His decision has resulted in significant debate among some devout Muslims.

Controversy

Devout Muslim and activist Raheel Raza, who currently serves on The Council for Muslims Facing Tomorrow, author of Their Jihad … Not my Jihad and an international activist for women’s rights, argues that the niqab has no connection to Islam. She went as far to state:

They’re the political flags of the Muslim Brotherhood, ISIS, the Taliban, al-Qaida and Saudi Arabia.” (http://tinyurl.com/pplxxll)

Ms. Raza goes on to inform Canadian judges that niqabs are not permitted in Pakistani courts. She supports this with the fact that in 2004, Chief Justice of the Peshawar High Court (PHC), Tariq Pervaiz Khan, had forbidden female attorneys from wearing face veils in courtrooms due to the fact that they couldn’t be identified, nor assist the court properly while wearing veils. He then went further to inform the women wearing niqabs that they are professionals and covering their faces is not a religious requirement.

Supporting these views is a scholar of Islamic history; Prof. Mohammad Qadeer of Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario who informed the Globe and Mail:

“The argument about concealing one’s face as a religious obligation is contentious and is not backed by the evidence. In Western societies, the niqab also is a symbol of distrust for fellow citizens and a statement of self-segregation. The wearer of a face veil is conveying: ‘I am violated if you look at me.”(http://tinyurl.com/pplxxll)

FlagThe foundation for the Federal court decision was banning the niqab didn’t “allow candidates for citizenship the greatest possible freedom in the religious solemnization or the solemn affirmation of the oath.” However, these devout Muslims and activists are arguing no rights would be violated as it is not a religious practice.

Conversely, Muslims who identify with Ms. Ishaq clearly disagree as they interpret the religion scriptures to state otherwise.

The opposing counsel is determined to take the matter to the Supreme Court of Canada in hopes to overturn the appeal.

This decision will be a defining case that will help shape future legislation and Canadian history.

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Points of Discussion:

1. What are your thoughts? What points do you agree/disagree with?

Vandalizing an Elementary School in the Name of Protest

It’s that time of the year again, when parents take a sigh of relief while children return to school. However, this year returning to school has been different for many students and teachers. Why? Teachers school facility, MPP’s and school buildings are facing the backlash of the new sex education curriculum.

AidsIn the first two days of schools alone, two schools were vandalized supposedly by parents in protest of the newly revised sex education curriculum. The phrase “shame on you” was spray painted on the walls of Thorncliffe Park public school and Fraser Mustard Early Learning Academy. Personally, I found this behaviour to be immature. Canadians have the right to protest but this kind of action is just unacceptable especially in the case of elementary schools.

Students shouldn’t be exposed to vandalism as a means of adult protests. It’s not fair for the children to have what is supposed to be their safe space to learn vandalized. Imagine seeing these words in a space where children aged 4-10 play and learn. Imagine how upsetting it was for parents to explain to their children why that writing was on the wall. Sex-education is a sensitive issue and it is understandable why parents have their concerns. Everyone has the right to protest and follow their beliefs however; I don’t believe vandalism is the way to achieve that goal.

Furthermore, half of the students from Thorncliffe were removed from their first day of classes as a protest to the new curriculum. Thorncliffe is known for having a large Muslim population of students. However, some Muslim community members such as Farrah Marfatiah have chosen to take a unique role by creating a guide to the new guidelines by explaining the changes in accordance to Islamic beliefs. Read more about it here: http://tinyurl.com/qbqpohg. In the past, some parents have protested outside of Liberal MPP offices against the new legislation.

Wednesday, “the day of protest” was put together by the pro-life group Campaign Life Coalition. Some parents went as far to suggest that they are considering removing their child from public school and placing them in Catholic schools or home schooling their children in order to avoid having their child learn the new sex-education material. Other parents are arguing that sex-education should be taught at home. Conversely, some parents are accepting the sex-education curriculum for the most part but object to parts of it including teaching children about homosexuality.

LgbtqDespite the backlash, many students, parents and school boards support this movement and believe that it should’ve been updated much earlier. Some children have stated that they understand the material better and had many of their questions answered. Moreover, parents are arguing that they may not have the time to stay up to date with the new technological threats which have evolved over the years and are glad that schools are taking on this responsibility.

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What does the new sex-ed curriculum include? Find out here:https://thesocialparalegal.wordpress.com/2015/02/23/lets-talk-about-sex-ed-new-legislation/