Gilbert Corniglion & David Rand
Over the last few years we have watched as terrorist attacks have been perpetrated in several countries by Islamist extremists. Events such as those which occurred in Pakistan on 27th March 2016, in Belgium on 22th March 2016 or in France in January and November of 2015—to mention only a few recent cases—could just as easily occur in Edmonton, Toronto or Montreal if certain conditions were met, conditions which have been observed, but denied, for many years in Europe. The naïveté, denial and misinformation which led to the attacks are factors which permitted them. We must be pro-active instead of reacting after the fact, grieving and helpless, having been lulled into complacency by seductive electoral discourse.
We denounce these horrible and barbarous acts of terrorism and express our solidarity with the victims and their loved ones, as well as with the people of each country cruelly affected by these attacks. But sentiments are not enough. Action is required.
It is for that reason that we also denounce the confused and spineless language used by some of our politicians in the aftermath of terrorist attacks perpetrated by Islamists. The organization AFT issued a press release to that effect, on 28th March 2016, which urged these leaders to take real, effective measures to counter the Islamist threat.
Several sets of measures must be taken in order to counter the threat from the ideology of political Islam:
- Instead of hiding behind cowardly and euphemistic language so as not to offend coreligionists of the perpetrators of the attacks, the source of the threat must be honestly and frankly identified. Draft Bill 59 must be cancelled. This proposed legislation has met with the approval of only Islamists, while practically everyone else rejects it as a serious danger for freedom of expression. In addition, the Quebec National Assembly must formally repudiate the resolution against so-called “Islamophobia” which it adopted in October 2015 in response to a proposal from Ms. David. Both of these provisions—Draft Bill 59 and the resolution—must be categorically rejected because both stigmatize legitimate criticism of religion.
- All commercial exchanges with Saudi Arabia and with Qatar must be terminated. These countries, with their barbaric theocratic regimes which promote radical fundamentalist Islam throughout the world, must be isolated on the international stage. Any foreign funding of Canadian religious institutions, including mosques, must be formally forbidden.
- Legislation which gives privileges to religions, and which thus enables religious fundamentalists in their efforts to have their ideologies accepted as normal and respectable, must be repealed. In particular, at the federal level, section 296 of the Criminal Code which forbids so-called “Blasphemous Libel” must be repealed, as must line 319(3)(b) of the “Hate Propaganda” provisions of the Code because it grants a dangerous exemption for religious discourse. Furthermore, line 17.1.b of the Citizenship Regulations must be removed because it grants priority to freedom of religion, to the detriment of freedom of conscience in general.
- Our society needs to conduct a public debate about citizenship and its possible revocation for any preacher who promotes values which are completely incompatible with those of the host society, such as promoting taking up arms against one’s compatriots, or against the police, or against the symbols or political foundations (e.g. democracy) and way of life (e.g. gender equality and minority rights) of western societies such as our own.
- We also need a public debate on the issue of the selection of new immigrants, given that Canada should be ready to welcome not merely a supplemental workforce but citizens who are willing and ready to share our challenges and our values such as democracy, gender equality, secularization, etc.
It appears obvious to us that the Paris and Brussels attacks perpetrated by recently arrived individuals could have been avoided if upstream measures—i.e. selection of candidates for immigration—and ongoing measures—e.g. surveillance of preachers of hate who repeat extremist religious injunctions which their more moderate coreligionists may have forgotten— had been implemented with firmness and with full respect for existing laws. We have had enough of the politics of the ostrich, burying its head in the sand.