Saturday, 14 March 2015

Bill 51 alienates Canadian Muslims and potentially places all other Canadians on the security watch list.

Canadians... you shall have security where ever you go.

Immigrant and Canadian born Muslims feel the pressures of terrorism every day. Bill 51 will increase those pressures.

by Tom Thorne

The current increase in terrorism activity in North America and Europe is tainting the immigrant and Canadian born Muslims with the misplaced suspicion that they endorse these actions. It isn’t quite so simple. Muslims in the West are shaken by satirical attacks on Islam and simultaneously by the ISIS criminal excesses that it does in the name of Islam. 

It’s a double edged problem. For example, the Charlie Hebdo cartoons are scurrilous from a Muslim point of view. They are simply anti religion, anti Islam and mock religion and religious people who use their alleged faith to justify ethnic cleansing, violence and warfare. The editorial stance of Charlie Hebdo is largely atheistic, and it regularly lampoons religion often blaming it for many of the world’s ills. 

They shred Catholics, the Vatican and the Pope with equal zeal.  Although peaceful Muslims agree with stamping out violence and terrorism in the same breath they see the Prophet Muhammed mocked and derided and that hurts deeply. So their response to these contemporary developments is very mixed building up an approach-avoidance conflict of some social consequence.

Besides the terror acts themselves this backlash from Muslims as they witness their religion mocked makes for a dynamic that has a no win aspect for anyone. That aids ISIS and all terrorists. Jihadists see a way to spread unease in the West by their actions. Sadly this jihadist strategy is working well leaving a trail of anti-Islam sentiments in its wake. 

ISIS add to the contemporary tensions by destroying archaeological sites and objects valued by UNESCO as World Heritage. Ancient Nimrod is seen as idolatry and is bulldozed. Museums statues from ancient sites are smashed with sledgehammers. All this is done in the name of Islam and endorsed by Sunni extremists whose views most reasonable muslims would dismiss hard core fundamentalist nonsense.

Security and police services in the West are on high alert. Muslims protesting satirical attacks on their faith are taking to the streets to protest. The hatred, ridicule and contempt has spurred a response that is not only satirical but also political as some politicians see this as a way to restricting Muslims in the West. Anti immigration organizations in the West see this situation as an opportunity.

Anti immigration protests have started in Europe with Muslims as the focus. Demands are made on Muslims to integrate more fully into the Western countries they inhabit. Any thoughts of multiculturalism are now on the political back burner. Prejudice is rising. All of which works well for terrorists and radical jihadists whose bloody excesses are well documented in Iraq, Syria and now with 20 beheadings of Coptic Christians in Libya.

Terror organizations who use Islam as propaganda are not only undermining the Middle East but also the West. They are recruiting young people from Western countries using the argument that the West doesn’t care about or respect Muslims. Every anti-Muslim protest in Europe and North America fuels the work of jihadists. It’s a vicious circle.

The answer is not simple. Muslim youth, often well educated, are turned from a life of reason into radical jihadists. This process is not well understood. How can it happen? There may be socio-economic causes as well as cultural aspects of the Muslim communities in the West, that makes them more prone to being radicalized.

Many Muslim youth slide down the razor blade of tradition versus Western values. At home and at the mosque they may be subject to more traditional Muslim views of life but outside the home they confronted with other values that seem to conflict with that part of their lives. They are stressed perhaps by the contrasts they live with daily.

Each immigrant group tries to preserve their culture and faith practices in a new land. On the hard side of this situation we see parents trying to impose standards from the old country on youth with a wider world experience. Imposing strict moral standards, dress codes and parental controls builds these conflicts.

To lower conflicts the youths either rebel or knuckle under. Some go their own way in the name of modernity and their new country. Others go deeper into their parental cultures and faiths to keep the peace. Few throw off their parental cultures and faith completely.  Whatever the reasons, the conflicts that arise give fuel to making decisions that are radical instead of being reasonable. Life tends to become black or white with little middle ground.

How do young Muslims respond to the Iraq and Syria war and mayhem?  They see that the West has always held some kind of influence in this region. However, most probably have as much knowledge of these conflicts as other Canadians do and go on each day without any change. 

However, young Canadian, US and British Muslims cannot escape that Canada, Britain and the USA have been for over 10 years fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan and propping up a corrupt government in the process or ridding the region of dictators that kept a lid on tribal and religious differences between the Sunni and Shia Muslim worlds. 

That story is every where in the media. To be a Muslim youth and hear about Muslims undergoing war are at the hands of Western Armies can be galvanizing to a Muslim psyche living and brought up in the West.

To live in the West and see the US attack Saddam Hussein’s Iraq and then set up an ineffective government to replace that dictatorship and then leave creating a vacuum for ISIS to fill, could be very hard to take and remain neutral or unmoved. To witness Canada committing its air force to bomb ISIS in Iraq could be equally hard to take.especially if you have relatives still surviving in Iraq and Syria or even Libya. 

When moderate Muslims support these Canadian efforts it may in some minds mean that Middle East Muslims have been abandoned. To see the post dictatorship stresses in Iraq, Egypt and Libya may be what sets off radical ideas in the minds of young Western Muslims. 

Canadian government Bill 51 changes to Security of Canada Information Sharing Act, amendments to the Criminal Code, and enhancements the powers of Canadian Service Intelligence Act and The Immigration and Refugee Protection Act do not really provide any help to understand the alienation of Islamic youth we now see at home. The measures of Bill 51 will aggravate the internal Canadian situation rather than solve it. Bill 51 smells mostly of election fever. 

Getting votes with the niqab controversy is a cheap shot by Prime Minister Stephen Harper in a time when he should be working hard with Canada’s Muslims to ensure that they feel included in the Canadian mosaic.

© Copyright 2015, Tom Thorne, All Rights Reserved.