OP-EDs


History of Muslims in Canada reminds us all of who we are

By Amira Elghawaby and Hassam Munir Ottawa Citizen | July 1, 2017 There’s nothing like a birthday to inspire introspection. For Canadian Muslims, the opportunity to commemorate and celebrate our history since pre-Confederation comes at a critical juncture. Those who hold bigoted and racist views have become more vocal – emboldened by populist politics that can fuel fear of the “other” and engender the disillusioned to turn against minority communities. If ever there was a time to fully acknowledge and appreciate the contributions of various communities to ...

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Inclusion isn’t just a buzz word — and Canada can prove it

Considering that we have just marked the 35th anniversary of our Charter of Rights and Freedoms, now is a good time as any to review exactly why Canadians have something valuable to share — and where there is room for improvement. By Amira Elghawaby Toronto Star | April 26, 2017 Many years ago, then-UN Secretary General Kofi Annan announced that the world needs more Canada. We heard it again from former American president Barack Obama in 2016, and even more recently from UN special rapporteurs who were visiting the nation’s capital earlier this month. But ...

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How to stand up to online trolls – and profit – with humour

By AMIRA ELGHAWABY The Globe and Mail | April 24, 2017 Hatred is at the root of much of the world’s horrors, and it often spreads online. It’s hard to imagine humour may be a way to counter this modern, borderless phenomenon. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that one of the most creative campaigns against online hate emerges from Germany, a country that remains painfully aware of the devastating consequences of fear and xenophobia. Donate the Hate is a cheeky campaign through which one euro is donated for every hateful comment that is spotted and responded ...

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The medium is the message when it comes to social change

Sometimes it can be too political — threatening even — to call out systemic racism, sexism, and discrimination, even at the heart of our government, where freedom of expression is supposedly sacrosanct. By AMIRA ELGHAWABY Toronto Star | March 14, 2017 I’m often bemused by the scrutiny afforded to the matter-of-fact buttons on my backpack whenever I’m visiting the House of Commons. Security guards will often make a show of examining each round pin, oddly expressing particular concern with such slogans as “challenge racism” and “take action on ...

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Anti-Islamophobia motion offers a chance to take a stand against hatred. Why quibble over semantics?

Islamophobia is absolutely deserving of special mention By Amira Elghawaby CBC News Opinion | February 19, 2017 A multitude of far-fetched theories are being peddled about a parliamentary motion that seeks to have MPs study and find solutions to Islamophobia, discrimination and systemic racism in Canada. Some have deemed M-103 as the first step toward Sharia law in Canada. Others have called it a "modern day blasphemy law." A handful of Conservative leadership candidates are warning it will seriously erode free speech in Canada. This is all nonsense. The ...

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Quebec mosque shooting shows need for dialogue, not rhetoric

By Razia Hamidi Montreal Gazette | 9 February 2017 The heartbreaking massacre Sunday in a Quebec City mosque has been emotionally draining for Canadian Muslims. My husband and I regularly visit various mosques in Montreal for evening prayers, and to know such a tragedy could have unfolded in front of our eyes left us shocked. How did we get to this point? The answer is obvious, and should not come as a surprise. My Facebook has been filled with people sharing how they have always feared this day would come. Sadly, for many of us, the question is not why this ...

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Governments have a role to play in combating hate

We are living in a world that feels unhinged, but we cannot forget that various communities have gone through countless upheavals, oppressions, and discrimination in the past — and still experience systemic racism and marginalization even today. By Debbie Douglas, Bernie M. Farber and Ihsaan Gardee Toronto Star | February 8, 2017 “Are all humans human? Or are some more human than others?” Lt.-Gen. Roméo Dallaire can testify to how the dehumanization of others can destroy entire societies. His experiences in Rwanda have been well chronicled, witnessing a ...

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One week later: A message to the Muslim children left fatherless

By Amira Elghawaby The Globe and Mail | February 5, 2017 To the 17 boys and girls who have lost their fathers in a senseless act of hateful violence: I’m sorry Canadians failed you. Despite our best efforts to alert decision-makers that we feared the rise of Islamophobia in Canada, including in Quebec, it wasn’t enough to save your fathers. Despite all the information we have – the reports from Statistics Canada showing that hate crimes have doubled against Muslims in Canada and that Quebec has the most reported cases, we were not able to persuade enough ...

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In a post-truth environment, false perceptions can hurt us all

By Amira Elghawaby The Globe and Mail | January 6, 2017 There’s a phone message we play during workshops that never fails to evoke reaction. It’s the recording of a woman who called our office last fall to express her deep suspicion of Syrian refugees, Muslims and women in head scarves. “It’s getting to feel like we’re living in their country, there’s so many of them everywhere you look,” she laments. Workshop participants typically shake their heads in bemusement, indignation or a mix of both. Yet a recent global survey indicates that many Canadi...

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It takes a village to combat hatred – here’s how to do it

By Amira Elghawaby and Bernie Farber Ottawa Citizen | November 23, 2016 It’s heartbreaking to know that a young man could be so consumed by hatred that he would allegedly desecrate sacred houses of worship. Saddening, too, that the vile epithets and evil slogans were not the work of someone only marginally familiar with hate; the vandalism included perfectly drawn swastikas, old-school racist slurs to depict Jews and Nazi imagery that only someone steeped in such narratives would know. In response to these crimes, Ottawa “privileged love over hate,” as Rev. ...

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