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Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Barbara Kay: Teach the truth about Islamophobia

...the controversial Islamic Social Services Association (ISSA) and NCCM/CAIR.CAN managed to strike up a collaboration with the Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC) and attract funding from the Red Cross to produce a guide for Canadian teachers — Helping Students Deal with Trauma Related to Geopolitical Violence and Islamophobia.

This guide is troubling in many ways.

First, obviously, there’s the collaboration itself, which lends credibility and respectability to NCCM/CAIR.CAN and ISSA from two prestigious but allegedly neutral bodies, the CHRC and the Red Cross. The CHRC’s involvement is especially awkward as a federal government organ closely linked to a quasi-judicial tribunal (the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal).

For the CHRC has now endorsed a document that declares, “The core values and central tenants (sic) of Islam are immutable and the best counter-narrative to the terrorist ideology of hate.” Many Canadians might argue that the best “counter-narrative” to terrorism is the Sermon on the Mount, rational atheism or any number of other things; the point is, CHRC should not be advocating for any particular belief system.

Then there is the apparent CHRC and Red Cross failure of due diligence. Two years ago, NCCM/CAIR.CAN and ISSA collaborated with the RCMP in the creation of the counter-radicalization handbook, United Against Terrorism. Likely embarrassed by the controversy over the handbook’s recommending of hardline clerics for consultation (and its curious emphasis on Muslims’ right not to co-operate with law enforcement), the RCMP withdrew its support (although the RCMP name and logo continues to appear on the handbook).

Furthermore, some specialists say NCCM/CAIR.CAN strategically aims to silence its critics through “libel lawfare” — a pattern of lawsuits intended to chill free speech against the group and its brand of Islam.

For example, the organization — which denies wrongdoing — is suing former prime minister Stephen Harper’s communications director, Jason MacDonald, for libel for publicly implying NCCM/CAIR.CAN has ties to Hamas. In a defeat for NCCM/CAIR.CAN, a Superior Court judge agreed to MacDonald’s demand for more documentation about NCCM/CAIR.CAN’s background and connections. If produced, the documentation could well prove damning, so NCCM/CAIR.CAN may decide to drop the suit (as it abruptly did in a previous libel case)...

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