Canadian Muslims add their voices to the growing demand that Canada act to protect human rights of Palestinians

The National Council of Canadian Muslims recently wrote an “open letter” to the Prime Minister regarding Canada’s weak stance with respect to Israel’s repeated attacks on Palestinians. There are an estimated three quarters of a million Muslims in Canada but up to now, they have not been very active in defense of Palestinians. Israel’s most recent attacks seem to have changed that. Read more.

A few weeks ago, Canada Talks Israel/Palestine urged “ministers, priests, imams and rabbis” to take up the issue of human rights for Palestinians in the face of Israeli attacks. That appears to be happening (though not due to CTIP’s call of course.)

In recent posts, we have documented interventions by Christian leaders and by some mainstream, but progressive Jews. Canadian Muslims are now getting more active. This is significant because an estimated 750,000 Canadians list Islam as their religion. And the number is growing rapidly. Twenty years ago is was less than 250,000.

In general, Canadian Muslims have been reluctant to take up the cause of human rights for Palestinians. The reasons vary. Recent immigrants to Canada don’t feel as secure in their rights as do native born Canadians. Most also feel somewhat threatened by a wave of Islamophobia that has resulted in many private “micro agressions”, principally against veiled women, and a few well-publicised horrible events like the shooting at the Quebec City mosque in 2017.

Add to that is also probably some ignorance. Canadian Muslims are not necessarily better informed about the situation in Israel/Palestine than most other Canadians.

But there are some encouraging signs that Canadian Muslims are starting to get engaged – in the Canadian political process generally, and specifically in defense of human rights for Palestinians.

“It wasn’t until we saw social media flooded with images of shots being fired upon worshippers and tear gas being thrown in the compound of the third most holy site in Islam (Al-Aqsa Mosque) that we awoke with a jolt,” wrote Aisha Sherazi in the Ottawa Citizen on May 19th. Sherazi is a well known Ottawa Muslim educator, writer and artist. She conducts workshops with Rabbi Menachem Blum in public schools on avoiding stereotypes

Now, in what appears to be a first, the National Council of Canadian Muslims has launched a strong campaign consisting of several elements urging Canada take a stronger role in defending the human rights of Palestinians.

The campaign started with an open letter to Prime Minister Trudeau from Canadian Muslim organizations

It was followed up by an extensive campaign which included:

A kind of awakening

“The experiences of Palestinians are no longer hidden from view, long held hostage by the Israel government’s broad narrative depicting Palestinians as terrorists, and unreliable partners for peace, and unworthy of the rights conferred unto them under international law”, wrote prominent Canadian Muslim Amira Elgawaby, in an op ed in the Toronto Star on May 19th. “A narrative shift on Palestinian experiences is disrupting the status quo“, she said.

The bottom line

It goes without saying that, in a Parliamentary democracy like ours, politicians are very interested in finding where the votes are. If the 750,000 strong Muslim Canadian community speaks up in favour of the human rights of Palestinians, politicians – of all parties – will notice.

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Canada Talks Israel Palestine (CTIP) is the weekly newsletter of Peter Larson, Chair of the Ottawa Forum on Israel/Palestine (OFIP). It aims to promote a serious discussion in Canada about Canada’s response to the complicated and emotional Israel/Palestine issue with a focus on the truth, clear analysis and human rights for all. Readers with different points of view are invited to make comment.

Want to learn more about us? Go to http://www.ottawaforumip.org

14 comments

  1. A positive develooment if organized Canadian muslims,are becoming more involved in seeking support for Palestinian rights and long term solutions to Israel Palestine conflict.

  2. No surprise that some are afraid to speak out. Robert Massoud (a Christian) said that when he started his Palestinian activism, his parents were afraid it would get them deported. They had been Canadian citizens for FORTY YEARS.

  3. I am glad that the public (all over the world) is finally waking up to the horrible oppression of the Palestinians. What does it take for us to break our silence? We are involved, however. Canadian corporations continue to reap obscene profits by selling weapons to Israel, Saudi Arabia and other countries (supposedly for “defense” purposes, as if anyone believe that) and then when they use them against others, our government expresses “concern”. We are complicit and need to recognize this.

  4. I was in Nanaimo BC last Friday driving through the busy downtown when I spotted a few Muslim women holding up signs and as I neared I noticed a strong group of them along with a healthy crowd of non Muslims holding signs and reacting positively to a supporting rendition of auto horns in the Vancouver Island city.
    Actually church groups across the island have been quite supportive of the Palestinians since the war broke out, taking to local media to express their concerns.

    1. This is what SHOULD happen. Great news!
      Had people (including Canada) stood with Jews in the 1930s and 1940s, history might have been different. Now is the time to stand with Muslims (and Asians and Jews and BIOPIC)!

  5. All good news but I would estimate that most Canadians are not fully aware of the details. Most who would support the cause probably follow CBC and while it is now doing a good job covering the P side, it is failing in exposing the government’s hypocrisy. I emailed The Current after their good coverage last week saying my trust would be restored when they followed up with an interview with Garneau.

    The elephant in the room is government honesty. I’ve seen it all over 8 decades from the supposed treason of the Riel Rebellion through the recognition of Israel and many more issues. We are, by custom, conned into addressing government ministers as “Honourable” suggesting that they are more honourable in the present than during previous episodes like the protracted Kamloops child massacre.

    Research readily suggests that Canada is a Journalist’s minefield and accurate information is a constant casualty. More people must demand that the CBC must hold government to account. As a long time follower, I bear the rage of a jilted lover.

      1. And thank you for pushing CBC’s buttons.Many long time CBC commentors have been continuously frustrated by the corporate paranoia surrounding the Israel/Palestine lack of discussion.
        It’s refreshing that finally CBC is living up to it’s own policy, but there is little doubt it has been curtailed by political interference, a sad comment in a country that claims a progressive bone.

      2. Hey Allan, when you say “political interference” do you mean that Trudeau/PMO/PCO etc puts pressure on CBC, or are you referring to something more indirect. If you have any insight/evidence into the process, I would be interested.

  6. I believe the Liberal government pressured CBC to avoid allowing public discussion on the Palestine-Israel crisis just like pressure was placed on CBC to dowplay the SNC-Lavalin fiasco until it became so clear to everyone that Trudeau did have an iron in that fire.
    As for proof; it’s in the pudding, which while already looking more than half baked, is still releasing plenty of gaseous fumes.

    1. Hey Allan, it is certainly true that CBC was limiting coverage (and especially limiting the Palestinian narrative). But I remain doubtful that there was any direct pressure from Trudeau or the Liberals. i am happy to stand corrected.

      My sense from talking to CBC types is that it was more reflecting (a) the general climate and (b) the constant pressure from pro Zionist groups that went after every journalist who made any criticism of Israel, which made their lives very difficult… so they avoided the topic.
      That doesn’t mean I am right, of course. I have only a few conversations to go by.

      1. My understanding is at best anecdotal too sitting here on the outside hoping not to catch the wrath of a CBC moderator.
        All I can attest to is that in recent years the only CBC journalist I saw who tried to cover the Palestinian/Israeli situation with the right amount of cynical truth was Neil McDonald.
        In the few occassions when his articles were open to public discussion,staying abreast of the comments meant remaining at least reading from the sideline. There is no doubt McDonald wore heaps of abuse for his frank, but fair coverage.
        I understand he remains with CBC, but we, the readers no longer have the privilage to read what he a saw, heard or felt, so yes, I too beleive he was under heavy critical pressure from partisan readers and thus frowning managers.
        The term “shooting the messenger” is often used in a lighthearted manner by students of journalism, but after years of ducking,diving and absorbing so much of it, the scar tissue starts to arrive.

  7. Peter Larson , I believe in b)the constant pressure from pro Zionist groups that go after the journalists who make any remark against Israel.

  8. One reader was not able to post a comment, and asked me to post it for him. Here it is:

    Muslims are not ignorant, they feel the pain while witnessing the genocide, injustice and occupation for more than 70 years in Palestine and Kashmir. Muslims are trying to put their scattered lives together caused by massive displacement, occupation, killings and destructions of their homes in Afghanistan, Iraq, Yamen, Libya, Syria and many other parts of the Muslim World. While Muslim World Leaders on the other hand follow commands of US and its allies to protect Israel no matter what!
    Muslims in Canada are easily being targeted by hate crimes, accused of terrorism and even indicted as anti-sematic. They tend to keep quiet to protect their citizenship, business and families hoping not to be kicked out as 2nd class citizen. Those who do speak are already subjected by the media, Intelligence services, boarder security and other government agencies as disloyal and perfidious.
    Muslims are deeply concern about the situation in Palestine but they need to speak out loudly unlike the Canadian Politicians who remain silent over Israel’s on-going genocide.
    Muazzam

    Hey Muazzam,
    Please remember that “ignorant” means “lacking knowledge, information, or awareness about a particular thing”. It is not a slight. In my travels in the Middle East, Iran and India, I have often met Muslims who are no better informed on the Israel/Palestine issue than are most Canadians.

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