It is sad that it took a tragic event to gather to denounce what has been normalized in the last long 15 years.
It took the killing of six good fathers, hard working men, to start talking about what has described the lives of Muslims communities across Canada.
Today, some people are saying that this happened in Quebec because it is a closed society or because they have trash radios that incite all day to hate and racism. These are simplistic explanations; they are just the tip of the iceberg.
Racism, xenophobia, discrimination has been rampant in the past years in Canada and specifically after 9/11. They have been normalized by some media and some politicians and legislation.
It is a general problem. It is not only specific to Quebec City or the province of Quebec; it has been growing in many cities across Canada:
Remember the two Muslim girls who were threatened last fall in Edmonton by a man who was singing the national anthem and showing them a noose. Today this man has not been charged.
Remember the Muslim woman wearing a scarf who has been attacked in the supermarket in London Ontario by a screaming and violent woman. Last June 2016
Remember PEGIDA, this xenophobic anti-Muslim group that was able to hold a protest in Toronto last June 2016.
Remember the Mosque of Peterborough that has been burned last November 2015.
Remember the Muslim woman here in Ottawa who found an offensive and racist note telling her to go back home also in November 2015
But most of all remember what Canada has done since 2001:
The introduction of Bill C-36 the first antiterrorism legislation that took many of our rights away and most of all demonized Muslims as if they are a threat to the security of Canada.
Remember all the security certificates cases that targeted Arab Muslim men: Mahjoub, Jabalah, Almari, Charkaoui, Harkat. Whose wife, Sophie was speaking at teh begining of the rally and who is until today still threatened by imprisonment and torture if deported? If the treatment of these men is not the culmination of Islamophobia to its ugliest form, how else can we justify their imprisonment without due process, the spying on them, their harassment, the stigmatization of their children and their families forever?
We shouldn’t forget the Anti-Terrorism Act 2015.
It was introduced by Harper with the blessing of Trudeau and the liberals. What was described as a lone wolf attack was followed by the most invasive, the most discriminatory and most likely unconstitutional piece of legislation that targeted Muslims, First Nations, environmentalists groups and many other activists.
But that was not the only islamophobic shameful legacy left by Harper and his government:
Remember The Barbaric cultural practices act, The Niqab ban at the citizenship ceremony, the use of the word mosque as an example where terrorist plots are being plotted and what Harper called “Islamicism” as the biggest threat to Canada.
My friends, this is what we are fighting today. Not some isolated acts. Not few bad apples. But a system. A whole system that dehumanized entire communities, a system that created two classes of citizens and two sorts of laws. One for the criminals and one for terrorists aka Muslims. One for citizens and one for refugees. One for the strong and wealthy one for the poor and the vulnerable.
Our solidarity today is needed more than any time before. Working hand in hand with groups and communities will be our path to victory. Today more than any time before, we need to talk to each other, get to know each other and support each other.
And please remember that all is not dark and depressing. There are people around us who are not filled with hate. There are people around us who do not believe the fake news and won’t accept the dehumanization of the Others. The won’t accept there is us and them. There is only US together. Those people are here today and we will not give up until things will be better and until injustice stops.
This is my speech given at the rally held in Ottawa against the Islamophobia and for the refugees on February 4, 2017.