OP-EDs


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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To counter-balance Trump’s influence, let’s turn to First Nations’ values of openness and equality

By Amira Elghawaby Ottawa Citizen | November 14, 2016 The morning after Donald Trump’s victory, I was fortunate to seek refuge from the din at what I imagine would be a Canadian version of an anti-Trump rally. I was at WE Day: a massive, youth-inspired celebration of building community. Surrounded by 16,000 young people, my 10- and 13-year-old daughters and I were engulfed in a dazzling display of song, light, dance and motivational speeches. It was a welcome escape from the wall-to-wall coverage of Trump’s dismaying win. The crowd seemed eager to hear Prime ...

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Quebec’s bill on religious neutrality is anything but

By Mihad Fahmy Montreal Gazette | November 13, 2016 If there’s one thing that’s crystal clear from the hearings on Quebec’s proposed legislation on religious neutrality, it’s that many Quebec organizations fail to see its need, albeit for differing reasons. For the past few weeks, Quebec has been holding public hearings into the provincial government’s Bill 62, “An Act to foster adherence to State religious neutrality and, in particular, to provide a framework for religious accommodation requests in certain bodies.” The hearings concluded last week. ...

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Denying Islamophobia won’t make it go away

Discrimination against Muslims is far too often portrayed as a manufactured phenomenon By Amira Elghawaby CBC News | November 3, 2016 "The new racism is to deny that racism exists." That's a line dropped at the end of a new video by American rapper T.I. that explores police brutality against Black communities. It was originally said by the controversial late-night television host Bill Maher during an interview he gave in 2012, following the shooting death of Trayvon Martin at the hands of police. The quote sums up the unintentional or willful attempts to ...

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