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Thursday, December 10, 2009

Why it is essential to stand up to bigots

Some excerpts from Haroon's column Why it is essential to stand up to bigots in the Star:

* Last winter, the Israelis attacked minarets in Gaza. Last month, the Swiss voted to ban non-existent minarets. The reasons proffered in both cases were patently false. Bombed Gaza mosques probed by Justice Richard Goldstone were found not to have been hiding Hamas arms or militants.

* Equally, there's little traction for the argument by some Muslims that they should be explaining Islam better, as though good PR is the antidote to xenophobia and hate.
* Such Muslims-only rules, so reminiscent of some Nazi laws against Jews, have been popping up across Europe – and Canada: German restrictions on mosques; the French ban on the hijab in schools; Canadian bans in soccer and tae kwon do tournaments; Nicolas Sarkozy's proposal to ban the niqab; Ontario's hysteria over letting Muslims use the Arbitration Act or having their religious schools funded; and Stephen Harper's bid to ban niqabi women from voting (while ignoring the 70,000 who cast absentee ballots in the last election without showing their faces).

* While Europeans and North Americans have learned not to invoke free speech to peddle anti-Semitism, they routinely cite it to rationalize anti-Islamism (the Danish cartoons, and the tirades of Maclean's magazine, the National Post, etc.)

* It follows that it's not Muslims who need defending – they can't possibly be demonized any more than they've been post-9/11 – but rather our secular democracies.


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