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Calling Islamophobia A Unhealthy Factor Should not Be Laborious. Canada Did It, But Congress Nonetheless Cannot.

Two resolutions condemning Islamophobia died quietly within the U.S. Home of Representatives at the start of January, neither having made it out of committee. Of their year-and-a-half lifespans, they drew only some headlines, no debates on the Home ground, no protests within the streets.

The subsequent month there was no such silence in Canada.

The creator of one other anti-Islamophobia decision stood earlier than the Home of Commons in Ottawa and browse aloud a sampling of the hundreds of bigoted messages and death threats she’d acquired on-line.

“We’ll burn down your mosques, draper head Muslim,” stated one message learn by Iqra Khalid, a member of the Liberal Social gathering who represents an Ontario district. Khalid is a Muslim who was born in Pakistan and immigrated to Canada as a baby.

“Kill her and be finished with it,” learn one other message. “I agree, she is right here to kill us. She is sick, and must be deported.”

“I’m not going to assist them shoot you, I’m going to be there to movie you on the bottom crying,” stated one other.

The messages didn’t precisely really feel like empty threats. Only a month earlier than, a white supremacist had opened fire on a mosque in Quebec, killing six individuals praying there.  

As she learn the messages, Khalid politely changed curse phrases by saying “clean.”

“Clean you gently with a chainsaw, you camel-humping terrorist incubator clean.”  

“Shoot this clean.”

The horrifying messages, despatched to Khalid after she launched the M-103 decision within the Home of Commons, appeared to show its premise: that anti-Muslim hate in Canada was actual and scary, and that the federal government wanted to take a stand.

M-103 referred to as on all members of Parliament to sentence Islamophobia, gather details about hate crimes, and create a committee to analyze how greatest to fight non secular discrimination in Canada. It was not a invoice and didn’t create a brand new regulation.

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Folks mourn at a February funeral service for 3 victims of the Quebec mosque taking pictures.

Nonetheless, its introduction precipitated heated debates, with some Conservative Social gathering lawmakers taking challenge with the phrase “Islamophobia” itself and arguing that the decision would one way or the other stifle free speech.

“If I consider myself, I’m afraid that if ISIS jihadists came to visit, they may lower my head off and rape me. Is that Islamophobia?” Conservative MP Marilyn Gladu stated. “I have no idea.”

Gladu and different Conservatives pushed for a unique decision, one which condemned all types of bigotry.

Khalid outlined Islamophobia clearly for the Home as “the irrational hate of Muslims that results in discrimination.” Liberal MP Mélanie Joly, the minister of Canadian heritage, referred to as the Conservatives’ new decision “weakened and watered down.”

“The Conservatives have introduced this movement ahead in a cynical try and serve their political functions and keep away from addressing the actual challenge regarding Islamophobia,” Joly stated.

Anti-Muslim web sites have been apoplectic over M-103, claiming that it might each criminalize criticism of Islam and result in the implementation of Sharia regulation in Canada. Such falsehoods fueled tense anti-M-103 protests throughout the nation.

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Canadians protest towards M-103 in Toronto, a part of a wave of demonstrations and counter-demonstrations throughout the nation in March.

In the meantime, the press churned out over 1,000 information articles in regards to the decision within the house of only a few months, in accordance with a search on Lexis-Nexis.

Lastly, in March, the Home of Commons, led by its Liberal majority, passed M-103 by a vote of 201 to 91. Though it was nonetheless only a nonbinding decision, Khalid had achieved one thing vital: an enormous, messy, very public dialogue about Islamophobia in Canada.

That’s the dialogue that former Rep. Mike Honda (D-Calif.) needed right here in the USA.  

Honda, who misplaced his bid for re-election in November, was a co-sponsor of House Resolution 569, which denounced “within the strongest phrases the rise of hate speech, intimidation, violence, vandalism, arson, and different hate crimes focused towards mosques, Muslims, or these perceived to be Muslim.”

He selected to sponsor the decision out of private expertise. He and his household have been amongst some 120,000 Individuals of Japanese ancestry incarcerated in so-called internment camps throughout World Conflict II, the place they lived behind barbed wire below the watch of armed guards.

Honda argued final yr that what had occurred to his household “could happen again” — this time to Muslim Individuals, who have been more and more scapegoated and focused for hateful speech within the wake of the 2015 terror assaults in Paris and San Bernardino, California. Hate crimes towards Muslims rose 67 p.c in 2015. Whereas the FBI hasn’t launched hate crime statistics for 2016 but, media reviews present Muslims are still being targeted.

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Former Rep. Mike Honda warned that what was finished to Japanese American households, like his, throughout World Conflict II may very well be finished once more to others.

Honda was particularly horrified in November, when Carl Higbie, a retired Navy SEAL and distinguished surrogate for then President-elect Donald Trump, cited the World War II prison camps as “precedent” for a Muslim registry ― which was one among Trump’s marketing campaign proposals.

The necessary lesson of his household’s story, Honda instructed The Huffington Submit, is that “what they did to us was unconstitutional they usually made it authorized.” HR 569, he stated, may have sparked “a debate about Islamophobia within the shiny daylight” ― like M-103 did in Canada ― and may need been a step towards defending Muslim Individuals from future persecution.

Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas) additionally had an anti-Islamophobia decision ― HR 413 ― die within the Home on the finish of the final Congress. HR 413 sought to acknowledge and honor “the victims of hate crimes of Islamophobia and anti-immigrant sentiment, within the aftermath of September 11, 2001.” It particularly cited 9 murders of Muslims or these perceived to be Muslim within the 5 weeks after 9/11.

In an announcement to HuffPost this week, Johnson stated she wrote HR 413 as a rebuke to years of Islamophobic speech and authorities coverage for the reason that U.S. launched its “Conflict on Terror.”

“A normal local weather of concern and anger towards Muslims and those that seem like Muslim was fomented,” Johnson stated. “Politicians stored utilizing [such] phrases as ‘Islamic jihadism’ of their speeches. This local weather of concern has manifested itself for the previous 16 years in institutional insurance policies that view American Muslims as a risk. This local weather of concern is unjust.”

She additionally stated her Muslim constituents are anxious.

“There’s a vibrant, energetic Muslim neighborhood in my congressional district and never a day passes that I don’t hear from Muslim American constituents in North Texas about their issues, fears or well-being for themselves or their households,” Johnson stated.

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Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson stated that “not a day passes” that she would not hear from anxious Muslim American constituents.

Half of all resolutions launched within the Home of Representatives are by no means handed, many falling between the cracks throughout a busy legislative schedule. And the 2 anti-Islamophobia resolutions within the 114th Congress confronted an particularly uphill battle: They have been launched and sponsored by Democrats in a Republican-controlled chamber.

Nonetheless, resolutions condemning hate and violence towards hundreds of thousands of Individuals would appear like a simple “sure” vote for any member of Congress.

Robert McCaw, nationwide authorities affairs director on the Council on American-Islamic Relations, would put the blame partly on the rise of Trump.

“The concern amongst Republicans,” McCaw instructed HuffPost final yr, “is that in the event that they stand as much as Islamophobia, they’re going to be challenged by the 70 percent of the GOP that wants to ban Muslims entering the U.S.” ― one other one among Trump’s marketing campaign proposals. “There’s an absence of ethical spine within the Republican Social gathering to face as much as Islamophobia and that’s what must be addressed,” he stated.

The failure of the 2 resolutions to even get out of committee suggests how deeply anti-Muslim sentiment is entrenched within the Home, with or with out Trump. Among the many committee members liable for denying the resolutions a vote have been three of probably the most Islamophobic congressmen: Reps. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), Steve King (R-Iowa) and Louie Gohmert (R-Texas).

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Reps. Steve King, Trent Franks and Louie Gohmert (left to proper) are identified for his or her baldly anti-Muslim feedback.

Franks as soon as endorsed a virulently anti-Muslim movie titled “The Third Jihad: Radical Islam’s Vision for America” and spoke at a convention referred to as “The Enemy of Freedom: Islam.”

Gohmert as soon as claimed that Muslim terrorists were sending pregnant women to the U.S. to give birth to “future terrorists” who would “assist destroy our lifestyle.”

And King ― who just lately made headlines for tweeting a white nationalist message ― has stated that the federal government ought to spy on mosques and that Muslims ought to should renounce Sharia earlier than getting into the U.S.

“I don’t know if we as a nation are on the level but the place we’ll have a [Congress] condemning Islamophobia,” McCaw stated this week. “America proper now’s dealing with its highest uptick of hate crimes in years, and we’ve got a presidency unwilling to deal with its personal anti-Muslim bias or the hate crimes taking place on the streets,” he added.

Whereas Canada transitioned from a Conservative authorities below former Prime Minister Stephen Harper to a Liberal one below Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in its final federal election, America did primarily the alternative.

Zane Sparling/Portland Tribune

An Iranian refugee in Oregon returned to his dwelling final month to search out it lined in anti-Muslim graffiti.

“The decision in Canada addresses the systemic anti-Muslim bias that was seen to culminate within the Harper authorities,” McCaw stated, “and below Trudeau’s management, the Canadian individuals are acknowledging the dangerous results of Islamophobia of their society.”

McCaw sees one shiny spot in Congress with the April 5 passage of Senate Resolution 518, which condemns all hate crimes concentrating on “non secular, racial, and ethnic minorities,” together with Muslims. It additionally calls on federal regulation enforcement to expedite hate crime investigations.

“So whereas we haven’t seen particular person resolutions singling out Islamophobia passing Congress, we’ve got seen resolutions towards all types of hate,” he stated.

If a measure like that may discover bipartisan assist and get adopted, McCaw stated, possibly “there may be hope” for different laws to fight Islamophobia.

Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.), who co-sponsored HR 569 final yr with Honda, instructed HuffPost just lately that he plans to reintroduce that decision someday this yr. Final month in his district, a Muslim household returned dwelling to discover a Quran destroyed and “FUCK MUSLIMS” written on the wall. 

Rep. Johnson stated she additionally plans to reintroduce HR 413 this yr. Final month on the College of Texas in Dallas, just a few miles from Johnson’s district, somebody dumped Qurans in a campus bathroom. 

America doesn’t do an excellent job of monitoring incidents of hate and bias. We’d like your assist to create a database of such incidents throughout the nation, so everyone knows what’s happening. Tell us your story.