CIJA’s position on M-103

Feb 21, 2017 | CIJA Publications

Click here to read CIJA’s letter to MP Khalid in which we suggest amendments to M-103.

Click here to read CIJA’s position on M-103 articulated in greater detail by our CEO, Shimon Koffler Fogel. 

We have received hundreds of messages of support for our nuanced position on M-103. Thank you. We have also been criticized by a small group of partisan activists within the community who have distorted our position. 

Here is the breakdown of what we think about M-103:

1. Like all Canadians of good will, we were absolutely appalled and horrified by the murder of six people while at prayer in their mosque in Quebec City. As we said at the time, an attack on one of us is an attack on all of us.

2. We stand in solidarity with the Muslim community against anti-Muslim bigotry.

3. Words matter. We believe the wording of M-103 is flawed. Specifically, we are concerned with the word “Islamophobia” because it is misleading, ambiguous, and politically charged.

Further normalizing this term by including it in the motion could lead to charges of Islamophobia being leveled against those who criticize strains of Islam that are antithetical to Canadian values.

There are examples of this exact dynamic taking place in other jurisdictions (Example One, Example Two, Example Three, Example Four). Our view is shared by many, including leading Muslim intellectuals.

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4. We believe it is critical to distinguish between Islam the religion, Islamism the political ideology, and Muslims. The term “Islamophobia” fails to distinguish between them.

5. We believe the term “Islamophobia” should be replaced with a more precise phrase, such as “anti-Muslim bigotry”, which was suggested by, among others, former Justice Minister Irwin Cotler.

6. At her invitation, we offered MP Khalid thoughtful, constructive suggestions that we believe would have allowed the motion to gain significantly more support. You can read our letter to her here. Ms. Khalid did not respond to our suggestions.

7. Several other faith communities reached out to us with similar concerns. We relayed that to MP Khalid.

8. The paradox of this debate is that those who stand to lose the most by the normalization of the term Islamophobia are Muslims as they are the primary victims of Islamist extremism.

9. Freedom of religion is enshrined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. We unequivocally reject calls to ban Islam.

10. Our position on M-103 is articulated in greater detail here

If you support our position, please let us know by commenting below and by sharing this post.

If, after reviewing the above and the additional hyperlinks, you do not support our position, we want to hear from you. We welcome constructive criticism and diversity of opinion.

The following articles articulate similar positions and concerns about the motion:

Editorial in the Globe & Mail: Call it ‘Islamophobia’ or ‘anti-Muslim bigotry’, MPs should unanimously condemn it
Editorial in Le Devoir: Zizanie inutile.
Salma Siddiqui in the CJN: I’m Muslim. Criticism of Islam can’t be conflated with Islamophobia.
Op-ed signed by 26 leading Canadian Muslim intellectuals in Le Devoir: Manifeste pour un islam de liberté et de citoyenneté
Farzana Hassan in the Toronto Sun: I’m a liberal Muslim and I reject M-103
Tarek Fatah in the Toronto Sun: Islamophobia motion will target moderate Muslims

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