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Canadian parliament finally passes motion condemning Islamophobia

At least, that is the claim of an article in the Huffington Post. The article notes that without any public awareness of the motion condemning Islamophobia, it is unlikely to have much effect. Much of the value of such motions it claims is in the publicity that is generated in opposition to Islamophobia.

The October 6 resolution was presented by New Democratic Party leader Thomas Mulcair. Mulcair needed unanimous consent for his bill to go forward since his party is part of the opposition rather than the Liberal government that is in power. He had talked with all parties in parliament almost a week before he presented the motion. The NDP motion was based on a parliamentary e-petition that had 70,000 signatures and was sponsored by Liberal MP Frank Baylis. The motion was a symbolic gesture meant to disavow hate and reassure Muslims in Canada that parliamentarians care about them However when the motion came to a vote a number of Conservative MPs shouted NAY preventing the necessary unanimous vote. There was no role call so those yelling NAY were not identified.

Mulcair said at the time: “I can’t see how anybody can speak out against a motion that seeks to condemn a form of hatred.” Liberal MP Omar Alghabra also expressed his incredulity describing the motion as a non-partisan, good, positive motion. He said he thought it would be treated as an “apple pie and motherhood type of statement”. Defeating the motion could be described as an act of Islamophobia itself.

Samer Majzoub, President of the Canadian Muslim Forum, got the parliamentary petition started which ultimately inspired the October 26 resolution. After the motion finally received unanimous consent, Majzoub expressed his thanks to all Canadian federal parties and attributed the success of the motion to “true Canadian values”. In an interview, he said the motion would open doors and lead to discussion of concrete policies around the issue. He warned that forms of discrimination like Islamophobia can change and appear in new ways in Canadian society. The article in Huffington Post concludes with the hope that next time such events happen in parliament the media should be concerned enough to cover them.

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