On August 16th 2023, Paul Chiang (parliamentary secretary of the Minister of Diversity and Inclusion and Persons with Disabilities) responded to the parliamentary petition e-4335 which requested the abolition of the position of Canadian representative on combatting Islamophobia. This petition was initiated by Nadia El-Mabrouk, president of the Rassemblement pour la laïcité (RPL, or Alliance for Secularism), following the appointment of Ms. Amira Elghawaby to that position.
The negative response of Mr. Chiang, published on the petition website, is a litany of buzzwords, some meaningless, some ill-defined and tendentious. It is expressed in a language which we might call trudeau-ese.
Mr. Chiang does not define the term “Islamophobia.” In particular, he gives no explanation whatsoever of how one could distinguish between this so-called phobia and legitimate criticism of the religion Islam. If I say that apostasy—i.e. leaving Islam—is a very serious sin in Islam and a crime severely punished, sometimes by the death penalty, in many Muslim-majority countries, is this assertion “Islamophobic” according to Ms. Elghawaby?
In his comments, Mr. Chiang takes no account of the fact that Amira Elghawaby, the person appointed to the post, is a fundamentalist Muslim, and is therefore among the worst possible choices for such a post.
Mr. Chiang dishonestly conflates race and religion. This unfortunate habit completely eliminates the freedom of conscience of the individual, as if religious affiliation were an innate and immutable attribute like a racial identity, which is obviously false.
Mr. Chiang’s use of hate crime statistics is dishonest. He declares the following:
Data gathered by Statistics Canada on police-reported hate crimes, shows that Muslims in Canada are disproportionally targeted in racist and hateful incidents, with a 71% increase in hate-based crimes in 2021 compared to the previous year.
He thus gives the impression that Muslims are particularly targeted. But he fails to mention that, according to these same statistics, cases targeting Muslims constitute only 4% of all hate crimes in 2021, while cases targeting Jews constitute 15%! In addition, hate crimes targeting Catholics increased by 260%, an increase almost four times greater than that of Muslims!
Mr. Chiang uses clichéd, dubious and highly ideological phrases such as “intersectional identities” and “systemic racism.” These terms are from the jargon of Critical Race Theory (CRT), an unfounded ideology imported from the United States where it is already in dispute and which applies even less well to the Canadian situation. No government should endorse or promote it. Furthermore, use of the phrase “systemic racism” is particularly unacceptable given that Mr. Chiang does not even bother to specify which system would be infected by racism, nor what connection such a situation could have with religion in general or with the religion Islam in particular.
Mr. Chiang neglects to mention that religions themselves are significant causes of the hatred that motivates hate crimes. In particular, Islam is virulently anti-Semitic, while fundamentalist variants of all three Abrahamic religions—Islam, Christianity and Judaism—are homophobic. Worse still, Canada’s hate propaganda law in the Criminal Code includes a religious exception (article 319-3-b), which grants impunity for hate speech propagated by religions. This same government of Justin Trudeau explicitly refused to repeal this horrible exception in March 2018.
Mr. Chiang, in his response, claims a desire to “advance inclusive public policy and respect for diversity.” Does this beautiful diversity and inclusiveness include respecting the concerns of secular Muslims who support Quebec’s Law on State Secularism (Bill 21)? Does it include Muslims who are concerned about the fate of their co-religionists in countries with a Muslim majority, such as Iran, and who have come to settle in Quebec or Canada precisely in order to distance themselves from the influence of fundamentalists like Amira Elghawaby?