Friday, May 2, 2014

Survey on Religion, Racism and Intergroup Relations in Canada Shows Differences in Attitudes Among Anglophones, Francophones and Other Groups

Canada NewsWire

TORONTO, May 2, 2014 /CNW/ - Leger Marketing conducted a national survey, sponsored by the Canadian Race Relations Foundation (CRRF) and the Association for Canadian Studies (ACS), on the issues of religion, racism and intergroup relations in the last week of January 2014. Oversamples of Muslims, Jews and Aboriginal Peoples were included in the survey to provide insight into how these groups' views on the issues compare with Canada's Francophone population, its English-speaking population, and persons whose mother tongue is neither English nor French.

Religious Diversity: Results show that before the recent Quebec election, a significant portion of Francophones (mostly from Quebec) held negative attitudes towards religious diversity, with 54% agreeing that having many religious groups in Canada "is more of a liability than an asset". We do not know if that has changed during the course of the recent election. The survey also reveals that there is some anxiety amongst Canadians in general about religious diversity, with some 40% in total expressing this view. Of the other groups surveyed, Canadian Jews (23%) and Muslims (30%) are least likely to agree with the statement. Compared to other Canadians, a higher percentage of these two groups also report having "a good knowledge" of other religions and wanting "to learn more" about other religions.

Racism: Almost two in three Canadians (62%) report they are "worried" about a rise in racism. Concerns about racism and discrimination against particular groups such as Muslims, Aboriginal Peoples, immigrants and Jews vary greatly from one group to another. Members of a particular group appear more concerned about a rise in racism and discrimination directed against their own group. Jews show a relatively high level of concern about racism directed against other groups as well. Francophones also show a higher level of concern except as it relates to anti-Aboriginal sentiment.

Attitudes to Intergroup relations show a similar concern from one group to another although, overall, the relationship that concerns Canadians most is between Muslims and non-Muslims (53% are concerned). Otherwise the responses in this category show the same pattern as the attitudes towards racism and discrimination, each group expressing its major concern about their relationship with other Canadians, and Canadian Jews expressing a relatively high level of concern about all intergroup relationships. It is noteworthy that, overall, the Canadians surveyed report that most of their friends share the same ethnic background. This is particularly the case for Francophone respondents, with 76% reporting that most of their friends share the same ethnic background. However, persons whose mother tongue is neither English nor French, Aboriginal Peoples, Muslim and Jewish Canadians are least likely to report that most of their friends share the same background.

(See attached handout at for further information on all the issues).

"This survey comprises part of our ongoing work with the Canadian Race Relations Foundation to 'take the pulse' of the nation on issues relating to their core mandate. The results highlight why it continues to be important to bridge gaps among the various groups in our country", said Jack Jedwab, Executive Vice-President of ACS.

Rubin Friedman, Spokesperson for the Foundation agreed and added, "This confirms our current focus, and clearly demonstrates why we must continue and augment our work on fighting racism, as well as promoting harmonious intergroup and interfaith relations. In light of these results, our projects on interfaith and intergroup issues assume added significance for promoting the concept of a shared Canadian identity and encouragement of citizenship based on equality, mutual respect and civility."

SOURCE Canadian Race Relations Foundation

May 3, 2014 at 3:00PM Saudi Embassy Ottawa - Stand up for Raif Badawi - please join us

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Universalist Muslims <>

​G​reetings from Universalist Muslims:

Just a friendly reminder that we are holding a peaceful demonstration in support of imprisoned Saudi Liberal Muslim leader Raif Badawi, across from the Saudi embassy on Sussex Drive tomorrow afternoon at 3 pm. There may or may not be parking at the Ottawa Rowing club and the demonstration is to take place on the boulevard above the parking lot.

Joining us and saying a few words are:

Hilary Homes of Amnesty International Canada
Gustavo Frederico of The Ottawa Mennonite Church
Rev. Frances Deverall of Canadian Unitarians for Social Justice
Ensaf Haider, wife of Raif Badawi
Shahla Khan Salter of Universalist Muslims

If anyone else wishes to say a few words in support, they are welcome.  

Please join us and meet Ensaf Haider, Raif’s wife and show your support. All are welcome.  Please share with your networks on social media, including twitter with hashtag #raifbadawi. 

More info is here:

Update: we have written to our Prime Minister and several respected MP’s. The Prime Minister’s office indicates that it is reviewing the matter and has forwarded our concerns respecting Raif Badawi to John Baird.

 If you can’t attend – please write to your MP.



Universalist Muslims is a federally incorporated Canadian not for profit organization, whose goals include spreading egalitarian understandings of Islam, Muslims and Universal human rights and connecting individuals and communities, of many schools of thought, both inside and outside Muslim communities, to spread harmony and peace.  We accept donations for Universalist Muslims.

"And God alone is Truly-Forgiving, All-embracing in Love." The Holy Quran, 85:14

"Allah loves us all."

Scholarship Donations Needed To Help Canadian Muslim Women Complete Their Education

May 2, 2014 

Without scholarships and bursaries many Canadian Muslim women can not afford to complete their education, which can provide them with a better future for themselves and their families.

The Canadian Council Of Muslim Women (CCMW) has taken the initiative to reach out to its members and supporters asking them for a monetary contribution that is later awarded as scholarships for education.

Their scholarship program and fundraiser has made it possible to change the lives of many students!

Make your donation now by emailing to get more information.

PRESS RELEASE: Ottawa Muslim cleric to make trek from nation's capital Quebec City promoting healthy living

August 18, 2014 (Ottawa): On Friday September 5th, 2014, Ottawa Imam Mohamad Jebara, PhD will deliver his weekly sermon after which he will shed his clerical garb revealing his cycling garments underneath. He will then hop on his bicycle and begin his 501km journey of biking towards Quebec City.

Speaking of his decision to make this trek, Imam Jebara states, "I have suffered from chronic back-pain for the past nine years, but despite my pain, and despite the fact that I am not an athlete, I will make this journey to teach people that one can, with effort and perseverance, overcome obstacles in their lives, especially, to help others."

The Imam intends to complete his journey on Friday September 12th, 2014, in time to deliver the Friday sermon in Quebec City where he will once again don his clerical garb. 

He states his underlying purpose for making the trip in the following words, "In an age of automation and technology, many people, in Canada are unconsciously making unhealthy choices and few exercise on a daily basis. The human body is a great wonder of creation, it can self-repair, but needs to be provided with the ability to do so; through healthy eating habits and regular exercise. Therefore, this journey will hopefully grab people's attention and inspire them to make healthy life choices, to avoid heart disease, among others." 

"The focus of my trek will be about raising awareness about heart health, and raising funds for heart and stroke research," he said.

The Imam stated that he is quite passionate about the sanctity of life and that he wants this journey to highlight the importance of keeping healthy, and giving of one's self, to donate blood, give from one's time and wealth, to help others and make a positive difference in this world.

He hopes the Cycling Cleric project will serve as a stepping stone in helping to improve the quality of Canadians’ lives through health promotion and life-saving research

The Project is so far supported by the following groups and individuals: Bushtukah, The United States Embassy, ​Trillium Gift of Life, Carleton University, the Heart & Stroke Foundation, GPS 2 GO, His Most Rev. Terrence Prendergast, S.J., Archbishop of the Catholic Church of Ottawa, Cantor Daniel Benlolo, Rabbi Steven Garten, and Imam Mumtaz Ali. He is also awaiting to hear confirmation of sponsorship from other organizations and anticipates a positive response.​

Take a sneak peek into early spring training here: 

Imam Jebara was raised in Ottawa, and is the Chief Imam and Resident Scholar at the Cordova Spiritual Education Center:

For those who would like to see him off, please attend Friday prayers beginning at 1:00PM at 877 Shefford Road, Ottawa onFriday September 5th, 2014,

For more information or to sponsor Imam Jebara, please contact: or call 1-855-567-3223

Follow the Imam's progress online via the following social media: 

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Religious progressives in America

Chart Of The Day

APR 29 2014

Emma Green flags a new Brookings report that notes the growing numbers of religious progressives in America:

Blacks, hispanics, and people of mixed race are all more likely to be religious progressives than conservatives; these groups are also among the fastest-growing demographics in the United States. Similarly, Millennials are more than twice as likely to be religious progressives than religious conservatives; in fact, people older than 50 make up more than 60 percent of those who are considered to be religious conservatives. Although it’s impossible to talk to an 18-year-old about her views on culture and predict what she’ll think in two decades, these demographic trends suggest that the religious right is about to start shrinking.

But the question of influence is a little fuzzier. Although more than a third of Millennials are considered religious progressives, roughly 40 percent don’t have any faith at all: A growing number of young people don’t identify with a particular religion. That, along with the fact that an overwhelming majority of religious progressives don’t see religion as “the most important thing in their life,” suggests that faith is losing its overall influence over how people think about social and cultural issues.

This has, it seems to me, some salience when it comes to the question of religious freedom. What about the religious freedom of those who are pro-gay as a function of their faith? Are they not penalized by the law in North Carolina that bans marriage equality and also makes it a misdemeanor to perform a gay wedding not backed by the law? Of course they are:

“By preventing our same-sex congregants from forming their own families, the North Carolina ban on same-sex marriage burdens my ability and the ability of my congregation to form a faith community of our choosing consistent with the principles of our faith,” said the Rev. Nancy Petty, pastor of Pullen Memorial Baptist Church in Raleigh, who joined the lawsuit. As part of the state ban, it is a Class 1 misdemeanor for a minister to perform a marriage ceremony for a couple that hasn’t obtained a civil marriage license. In addition, the law allows anyone to sue the minister who performs a marriage ceremony without a license.

Gay leftist Mark Joseph Stern demands those defending religious freedom defend the progressives’ religious freedom as well. Very happy to. Even Ponnuru wants the ban on unlicensed marriages to be repealed. The more general point is that the assumption that religious convictions are solely behind banning marriage equality is empirically false. Religious liberty cuts all sorts of ways – and we shouldn’t pick or choose between one church and another.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Columbus or Native American Day?

By Eric Walberg -- April 30, 2014

The writing is on the wall for Columbus Day. In the latest move to rid the calendar of its day of infamy, in April, the Minneapolis City Council voted unanimously to rename Columbus Day to Indigenous People's Day.

Rename Columbus Day by
Many American Indians have long resisted the observance of a day to honor Christopher Columbus. 

Since 1970, the holiday has been fixed to the second Monday in October, coincidentally the same day as Thanksgiving in Canada--another holiday of dubious origins from the native point of view. Most states celebrate Columbus Day as an official state holiday, though already many states are uncomfortable with the reality of Columbus, and mark it as a "Day of Observance" or "Recognition".

Alaska and Oregon do not recognize Columbus Day at all. Hawaii calls it Discoverers' Day, which commemorates the Polynesian discoverers of Hawaii, though not as a legal holiday.

The first governor with the smarts to foresee the political astuteness of at least balancing the holiday scales was ironically California's Ronald Reagan. He proposed adding a holiday in September called American Indian Day. Interestingly, Reagan played the ill-fated General Custer in the 1940 blockbuster Santa Fe Trail. Another Hollywood icon, Marlon Brando, gave the movement to reassess colonial chauvinism prominence with his 1973 refusal of the Oscar for Best Actor in The Godfather in protest to treatment of Native Americans in movies.

In 1989, South Dakota decided to change its name for the October holiday "Native American Day", and keep it as a non-work day devoted to educating citizens about Native American heritage. The South Dakotans also declared 1990 as a "Year of Reconciliation". Berkley California adopted the name Native American Day in 1992, California and Washington state joined them in 1998, and other municipalities have kept up the momentum over the past decade. 

Despite the later dominance of Spain and Britain as the colonizing powers, Italians were the earliest explorers. Apart from Columbus, Amerigo Vespucci explored the east coast of South America, and his name was adapted to the entire hemisphere. 

In 1792, New York City and other US cities celebrated the 300th anniversary of Columbus's landing in the 'New World', and the flood of Italian immigrants led New York Italians to celebrate the day in a big way in 1866. Ironically, the first opposition to the day was by WASP Americans anxious to eradicate Columbus Day celebrations because of their association with these (Catholic) immigrants and their 'Knights of Columbus'. 

It did not occur to Americans fresh from decimating the indigenous peoples and stealing their land that celebrating their own good fortune was unseemly, so the day became a holiday in many states, and finally a federally recognized holiday in 1937. It was used by teachers, preachers, poets and politicians to teach ideals of patriotism, especially support for war, US citizenship, its ever-expanding national boundaries, and social progress.

Columbus's navigational feats have traditionally been celebrated throughout the Americas. In Haiti and Santo Domingo (Hispaniola) December 5 is Discovery Day. In Brazil, Discovery Day (in April) commemorates the day when Pedro Alvares Cabral became the first European to land in Brazil in 1500.

The Dia de la Raza ("Day of the Race"), like Columbus Day on or near October 12, originally celebrated the Spanish 'race', both in the colonies and the motherland, though by 1918, Mexican philosopher Antonio Caso took it as an opportunity to praise the "Mexican mestizo race". In 1928, the Dia de la Raza was declared an official national holiday in Mexico, and other Latin American countries followed suit.

Despite the notoriety of the Spanish conquerors, they were in fact less awful than the French and British. "Spain was constantly debating with itself: 'Am I right, am I wrong? What is it I'm doing with these peoples?'" notes Mexican writer Carlos Fuentes in The Buried Mirror: Reflections on Spain and the New World (1992).

In 1552 Dominican Bishop Bartolomé de Las Casas published "A Brief Account of the Destruction of the Indies". Bernal Daz, a soldier in Cortés' army wrote a history of the conquest of Mexico. "We came here to serve God, and also to get rich." University of California (Berkeley) prof Woodrow Borah points out that, "The Spanish made a place for the Indians--as part of the lowest order, but at least they had a place", whereas, "North Americans in many cases simply exterminated the Indians." 

Instead of Day of the Race, Argentina has a Day of Respect for Cultural Diversity. Spain renamed Race Day as National Day in 1987. In 1994, Costa Rica changed the official holiday from Dia de la Raza to Dia de las Culturas (Day of the Cultures) to recognize the mix of European, American, African and Asian cultures. Bahamas changed its Discovery Day to National Heroes Day in 2001. 

Venezuela changed Race Day to Day of Indigenous Resistance in 2002. In 2004 activists toppled the statue of Christopher Columbus in Caracas and wrote: "Just like the statue of Saddam in Baghdad, that of Columbus the tyrant also fell this October 12 in Caracas.

The momentum to cancel Columbus Day went global in 1990, when 350 Native Americans met in Ecuador and launched the campaign. The American Indian Movement declared October 12, 1992, the 500th anniversary of Columbus's landing, "International Day of Solidarity with Indigenous People". The National Council of Churches called on Christians to refrain from celebrating the Columbus quincentennial, saying, "What represented newness of freedom, hope, and opportunity for some was the occasion for oppression, degradation and genocide for others."

In a 2000 press release, the American Indian Movement called Columbus "the beginning of the American holocaust, ethnic cleansing characterized by murder, torture, raping, pillaging, robbery, slavery, kidnapping, and forced removals of Indian people from their homelands." 

In Canada, there was never a Columbus Day (it was too cold for him). The closest is Discovery Day in Newfoundland and Labrador in June, commemorating John Cabot's 'discovery' of Newfoundland in 1497. National Aboriginal Day (June 21) was established in 1996 though not as a legal holiday, as part of the "Celebrate Canada" series, followed by St-Jean Baptiste Day on June 24, Canadian Multiculturalism Day on June 27, and concluding with Canada Day on July 1. 

Nova Scotians have Treaty Day October 1, honoring the Treaty of 1752 and the date on which the Mi'kmaw people would receive gifts from the Crown to "renew their friendship and submissions." But the only Canadians to honor native bloodlines with a statutory holiday are Manitobans, with Louis Riel Day in February (when other Canadians have Family Day) in honor of the Métis leader regarded as the Father of Manitoba. 

However, we must ask 'What's in a name?' There has been little sign of genuine reconciliation to date between conquerors and the conquered--with the possible exception of the South Dakotans, who have the third highest proportion of indigenous peoples and seven large reservations. 

Reagan's astute move in 1968 was more a precognition of the growing wave of political correctness and identity politics that became the hallmark of the post-communist New World Order which Reagan's vice president, Bush Senior, was soon to declare. 

In 2005, the UN recognized International Holocaust Remembrance Day to commemorate the Nazi killing of Jews, Roma and homosexuals on January 27, the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi death camp, by Soviet troops. It's time to take the campaign to recognize the much worse genocide against Native Americans (not to mention the plight of African slaves) to the UN and follow it up with real measures to promote "reconciliation". WWII is only the tip of the imperialist iceberg.

A version of this appeared at PressTV

Submitters Website:

Submitters Bio:

Eric writes for Al-Ahram Weekly and PressTV. He specializes in Russian and Eurasian affairs. His "Postmodern Imperialism: Geopolitics and the Great Games" and "From Postmodernism to Postsecularism: Re-emerging Islamic Civilization" are available at

Islam and the Culture of Rape

By Pamela K. Taylor --- April 29, 2014 

Today the White House called on universities to more aggressively combat sexual assaults on campus. ““Colleges and universities need to face the facts about sexual assault,” Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. said. “No more turning a blind eye or pretending it doesn’t exist. We need to give victims the support they need, like a confidential place to go, and we need to bring the perpetrators to justice.”

He could have been addressing the Muslim world. As a community, we need to set our house straight. We need to change laws across the Muslim world to ensure that perpetrators of sexual violence are brought to justice, rather than forgiving them if they marry their victims, or worse, charging the victim with illegal sexual contact and punishing her while her attacker goes free. We need to rein in and obliterate jirga councils that prescribe the rape of innocent women as a communal punishment for families whose male members have transgressed in some way. We need to get serious about prosecuting those who harass women on the streets of the Muslim world. And most importantly, we need to be honest with ourselves about how mainstream and conservative Muslim rhetoric and theology around modesty, hijab, gender roles, and etiquette between the sexes enables harassment and rape, and excuses and encourages men to become harassers and rapists.

When we argue for hijab, modesty and restrictions on interactions between men and women for the sake of protecting women, we in effect make a statement that men are incapable of self-control, that they are born harassers and rapists who cannot be trusted to behave morally. When we argue that hijab is required to liberate us from the male gaze, we deny men’s ability to respect God’s command to lower their gaze when it becomes inappropriate. When we argue that women should be modest not only of dress, but also of speech, of glance, of step and movement, we empower the notion that men are nothing more than base desire waiting to be ignited. When we argue that men and women cannot mingle, work together, play together, eat together, or that women must be hidden away behind screens even during prayer when all focus is on the Divine, we give power to the idea that men cannot exert self-control and that the only impulse governing them is the sexual one.

We sell men very short, and we sell women even shorter.

Is it any wonder, when our arguments and theology are all based upon the premise that men cannot control themselves, that they are ruled by sexual drives and little else, that they live up to our expectations? Is it any wonder that sexual harassment and sexual assault are rampant in Muslim societies when our very conception of men, and of God’s conception of men, is so base?

Sadly, this theology of the weak man is rampant among Islamists, radicals, conservatives and more mainstream Muslim communities. And yet, it has little basis in the Qur’an. Men and women in the Qur’an are described as protecting friends of one another. (Chapter 9, verse 71). The verses about modesty address men and women asking each to exert self-control, and not to make a show of themselves. (Chapter 24, verse 31). In particular that verse advises women not to call attention to ourselves, advising us to control our desire to show off, to seek praise from others, to compete and to indulge our pride… that is, to control the very vice that led to satan’s downfall. It doesn’t say anything about modesty being needed because men will be driven to distraction by the sight of a women’s bosom or her hair, or that her practice of modesty is to protect her from men. Men, after all, are our allies, our protecting friends.

Even when the wives of the Prophet are advised to be careful how they talk, the Qur’an makes it clear that their circumstances are not like those of your average woman. They were, after all, the wives of the Prophet and people from all over the region came to them to curry favor or make requests of the Prophet through them. They were, in fact, in a unique position, just as the Qur’an says, and we should take the Qur’an at face value when it affirms that fact, rather than extrapolating and universalizing the verse.

The very fact that sexual intercourse outside of marriage is a punishable offense in the Qur’an points to the fact that men can indeed resist temptation, and are in control of their actions regardless of what is going on around them. What sort of loving, just God would make men incapable of resisting women and then punishing them for living according to their very nature?

The bankruptcy of a theology that posits men cannot control their impulses is proven by the millions of men (both Muslim and non-Muslim) living in the West where women regularly dress in tight, short, and provocative clothing at school, at work, even in church. And yet, we do not see men stopped in their tracks, drooling and ogling. We do not see orgies on the street corners, or in the offices and churches. And while rape and sexual harassment are a problem, the problem is no where near the levels experienced in many Muslim countries.

Yes, it is way past time we set our house in order.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

26 June, International Day against Islamophobia and Indefinite Detention of Immigrants: Free Mohammad Mahjoub Now!

On Sunday, April 27, 2014, People's Commission <> wrote:

26 June, International Day against Islamophobia and Indefinite Detention of Immigrants: Free Mohammad Mahjoub Now!



Egyptian refugee and torture survivor Mohammad Mahjoub has been jailed and detained for 14 years in Canada because he is profiled as a Muslim. His supporters are calling for an international day of solidarity on June 26, 2014, marking 14 years of administrative detention. See background below. 

::Ideas for local actions::

On June 26th 2014, we are coordinating creative actions across Canada and in cities around the world to denounce Islamophobia and indefinite detention of all immigrants. We are calling for actions that highlight the amount of time Mohammad Mahjoub has been fighting to clear himself from this horrible Security Certificate ordeal. 

Here are some suggestions for actions and numbers you can play with, to create your own local action:

# of years = 14 ------------> a 14-hour fast outside a Canadian embassy 
# of months = 168 ----------> 168-person flash mob action in a Canadian immigration office (!) or 14 people freeze for 12 minutes outside a Canadian Border Services Office
# of days = 5110 -----------> a 5110-link chain wound around a symbol of Canada 
# of hours = 122,640 -------> 122,640 pieces of confetti, flyers or symbolic objects to be released/dropped/shared
# of minutes = 7,358,400 ---> *yikes* if you can think of something, let us know!

**For the larger numbers - try dividing the time up equally among a number of people - see example in the # of months above.

Note: these are just examples! Use your creativity! Posters around the city, dropping or releasing objects, signs, vigils, other actions: all welcome!

INTERESTED IN PARTICIPATING? GET IN TOUCH WITH US We can send posters, flyers, images, press release, and background documents.


Many view Canada as a welcoming and accepting country. The reality is not so pretty. Here administrative detention and deportations of immigrants are a daily reality. In immigration processes, profiling, use of evidence tainted by torture, and collusion with abusive spy agencies around the world is routine.

Mohammad Mahjoub is a 14-year victim and survivor of Canada's racist and islamophobic border laws. Arrested on June 26th, 2000, he spent almost 8 years in prison, including several years in solitary confinement. His imprisonment was justified as a question of "security" but no specific charges were ever laid and the alleged evidence remains secret. Over the years, Mr. Mahjoub went on hunger-strike over and over again, just to get basic medical services and rights.

In 2007, under pressure of a widespread public campaign, the Supreme Court of Canada struck down the "security certificate" legislation under which Mr. Mahjoub was detained. However, the Court failed to release Mr. Mahjoub and the other Muslim detainees; instead inviting the government to introduce revised legislation before the men tasted freedom. The right-wing Canadian Conservative party took advantage of its new governing position to do so the following year.

Released on house arrest, Mr. Mahjoub's conditions were harsh and at first included camera surveillance of his home, two-way video inside the home, sensor which showed when windows were open, 24-hour physical accompaniment, draconian limitations on movement outside his home, and a GPS device permanently attached to his body. However, Mr. Mahjoub continued his campaign for justice and dignity. As his release conditions were progressively lessened, he embarked on a national speaking tour supporting immigrant rights and speaking out against racism and islamophobia in Canada.

When the Egyptian uprising finally overthrew Hosni Mubarak, Mr. Mahjoub was able to obtain new evidence disproving allegations made against him and linking Canadian officials to the detention and torture of his brothers in Egypt.

Nevertheless, in 2013, a Canadian court upheld the 'Security Certificate' issued almost four years earlier, even as it acknowledged that the process it used to make the ruling did not meet standards of fairness. Mr. Mahjoub is now on his way to the Supreme Court for a second time.

Mr. Mahjoub's story is not extraordinary. In almost every western country, Muslim men are jailed on 'security grounds', while anti-immigrant and racist hysteria is fomented by politicians. In this latest wave of surveillance, incarceration and attack on freedoms, particularly of whistle-blowers and environmentalists, we have to remember that first they came for the Muslims. Now is the time to connect our struggles.

Resist Racism! Resist Islamophobia! Forge Global Chains of Solidarity!

Justice for Mahjoub

IRFAN branded as terrorist organization by Canadian government

Addition to list of 'terrorist entities' comes days before court battle over charitable status

The Canadian Press Posted: Apr 29, 2014

A Canadian organization that provided humanitarian aid to Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza has been formally branded a terrorist entity days before the start of a court battle over the revocation of its charitable status.

In a letter to the International Relief Fund for the Afflicted and Needy, the RCMP said the federal government had added the group to a list of "terrorist entities" as of April 24.

"IRFAN is now classified as a 'terrorist group' under Canadian law," the letter from Supt. Stephane Bonin states.

"As a consequence, any property or asset belonging to IRFAN is now frozen."

The letter offers no reason for the listing decision but Canada Revenue Agency has said the organization supported Hamas, itself branded as a terrorist organization.
Charitable status revoked

IRFAN was due in Federal Court of Appeal next week to contest a 2011 CRA decision to revoke its charitable status because of its alleged ties to Hamas and failure to keep proper records.

No one for IRFAN was immediately available to comment, but a lawyer speaking for the group condemned the listing as an attack on humanitarian support for Palestinians.

IRFAN did not know the terrorist listing was in the works and had no opportunity to respond or offer its side of the story, Ottawa-based lawyer Yavar Hameed said in an interview.

There's no evidence the group did any direct funding of Hamas, he said.

"The real nub of the matter is that it's basically going through Palestine, therefore it's supportive of Hamas," Hameed said.

By listing IRFAN-Canada, only days ahead of the Federal Court Appeal hearing, the Canadian government is, without due process, pre-empting the legal debate before the Federal Court of Appeal to determine whether the organization's charitable status should be reinstated.

"This listing happens days before we are to present arguments for the first time to the Federal Court of Appeal, so we're very concerned about the timing with which this listing happens which completely undermines any ability for this organization to work as a charity," Hameed said.

"On its face, we believe it is an unfair and unconstitutional decision that has been taken."

Hameed also said the listing was a "nail in the coffin" for Canadian humanitarian support for "orphans and destitute" Palestinians.

PLEASE CIRCULATE: Two excellent May events in Ottawa-- May 11th and May 22nd

From: Diana Ralph <>
Date: Tuesday, April 29, 2014 12:37 AM

FILM SCREENING - May 11th (Mothers Day)

The Canadian premier showing of "The Village under the Forest", an award winning South African documentary. The film follows a South African Jew who takes a second look at a JNF "reforestation' project in Israel to which, as a child, she gave money. She comes to Israel to find that the remains of a Palestinian village lie hidden under the forest.Showing @ 6:30 p.m. at the Mayfair Cinema, Bank Street and Sunnyside. Tickets $10, advance tickets available at Mayfair, Octopus Books, Singing Pebble Books

for more information;

DEBATE - Thursday, May 22 6:30 p.m.
Can Israel exist as both Jewish and democratic?

American Jewish author Max Blumenthal says "no". He has raised a few hackles with his recent book "Goliath", a blistering attack on Israel's racist policies and practices.

Professor Mira Sucharov says "yes". She is a well known Canadian academic and frequent contributor to such publications as Ha'aretz and the Canadian Jewish News.

Marion Hall Auditorium, 140 Louis Pasteur (University of Ottawa),
Tickets $15, $10 low-income/student available on-line at

for more information;

Universalist Muslims: Stand up for Raif Badawi on World Press Freedom Day

Shahla Khan Salter, Director of Universalist Muslims, wrote this letter of appeal to Canadian parliamentarians on behalf of Raif Badawi, co-Founder of the Saudi based Liberal Muslim Network."


From: Universalist Muslims <>
Date: Tue, Apr 29, 2014 
Subject: re: Stand up for Raif Badawi on World Press Freedom Day
To: Paul Dewar <>, "PLDusseault ." <>,,

Dear Opposition Leaders and Respected MP's:

This morning we emailed the Prime Minister seeking his help in respect to Raif Badawi and included you in our list of recipients.

Raif Badawi, his wife, Ensaf and their three kids need your help as well. 

So does the world. 

Saudi Arabia is our trading partner - with whom Canada approved a billion dollar deal recently to manufacture LAV's. 

It means we have a responsibility to engage Saudi Arabia on its human rights record. 

It is after all a place where there are no churches or synagogues, where atheists are regarded as terrorists, where women live in a gender apartheid and finally - from where it has been reported that Al Qaeda receives weapons and funding to help fight the war in Syria.

Please join us on Saturday outside the Saudi embassy to say a few words to show your support. It will be a small demonstration but you could make all the difference.

Also, please speak up in the House and to the media to show your concern. 

We thank Pierre-Luc Dusseault, Ensaf's MP from Sherbrooke, for his efforts.


Kindest regards,
Shahla Khan Salter
Director: Universalist Muslims

Egypt’s ’Secular’ Gov Uses Religion as Tool of Repression

By Mohamad Elmasry --- April 28, 2014

Mohamad Elmasry is an assistant professor of journalism and mass communication and a visiting scholar at the University of Denver's Center for Middle East Studies.

MINYA, Egypt — An Egyptian court here on Monday sentenced to death the spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood and more than 680 other people after a swift mass trial on charges of inciting or committing acts of violence that led to the destruction of a police station and the killing of an officer. – New York Times, April 28, 2014

Egypt’s military-backed government has followed a pattern established by a long line of Egyptian political leaders who have exhibited public religiosity and presented themselves as men of God. Notably, the recently-ratified constitution—drafted by a group of fifty people hand-selected by the nation’s military-installed president—did not do away with an article dictating Islam as the official religion of the state and Islamic Shari’ah as the primary source of legislation.

Three factors make the current Egyptian regime’s use of religion significant, however. First, the regime took power in a cataclysmic event apparently aimed at saving the country from a group, the Muslim Brotherhood, allegedly bent on exploiting religion for political gain; second, the post-coup government has suggested that secularism is a safer political path, as evidenced by its decision to ban religious parties; and third (and arguably most importantly) the regime has employed religion to justify a host of repressive policies.

On July 3, 2013, the day of Egypt’s coup against democratically-elected Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, Egyptian General Abdulfattah Al-Sisi sought religious legitimacy by surrounding himself with both the Coptic Christian Pope and the head of Al-Azhar Mosque, Egypt’s supreme Islamic authority. In the weeks and months since, the Egyptian regime has relied heavily on the Church and Al-Azhar, both of which have been staunch supporters. Shortly after the coup, various religious institutions announced their support for the military-backed government and for Morsi’s removal, sometimes defending the government against allegations that what took place on July 3 was a military coup.

Both the Church and Al-Azhar have obediently toed the government line, encouraged a ‘yes’ vote on the 2014 constitution, and lavished praise on Al-Sisi, who was promoted to Field Marshal shortly after the constitution was ratified. Religious scholars supportive of the regime are regularly featured on state television, often either praising the current government or denouncing the Muslim Brotherhood. One Imam recently wrote a poem in praise of Al-Sisi, while a Coptic Priest publicly admired Al-Sisi’s beauty. An Azharite scholar even proclaimed in a televised address that both Al-Sisi and Minister of Interior Mohamed Ibrahim are messengers sent by God to rescue Egypt from the throes of the Muslim Brotherhood.

One could argue that these types of support and praise are natural extensions of the regime’s popularity and that Egypt’s current leaders have not sought them, but there’s sufficient evidence of government manipulation of religion to believe otherwise. In late January it was announced that Egypt’s government would begin to dictate the topics of Friday Mosque Sermons, while the military has solicited the help of famous Islamic religious figures in a propaganda campaign designed to cement the regime’s religious legitimacy.

Popular television preacher Amr Khaled was asked to address military conscripts, and tells them in a video recorded lecture that they’re performing tasks beloved by God. Dr. Ali Gumah, Egypt’s former Grand Mufti, was asked by the regime to deliver a lecture to Egyptian military officers and other members of the security forces. In his lecture, attended by both Al-Sisi and Ibrahim, Gumah calls the military “heroes” and tells them that God, the Prophet Muhammad, and the believers are with them in their battle against disloyal Egyptians, and that they’re on the “path of God.”

He then describes his dealings with “the group”—an implicit reference to the Muslim Brotherhood—and argues that they’re killers and liars. Gumah also calls the Brotherhood out as “kharijites,” a group considered heretical by Muslim scholars. Instructing the army to “shoot to kill” violent protesters, Gumah explains the difference between legitimate war and murder, implying that the killing carried out by Egypt’s security forces is legitimate.

Taking place as it did around the time Egyptian security forces dispersed pro-Brotherhood protest sites (what Human Rights Watch called the “worst mass unlawful killings” in Egypt’s modern history) Gumah’s address can be seen both as a type of pep talk to security personnel frightened by talk of massacring hundreds of unarmed civilians, and as an attempt by the military-backed government to protect itself against allegations that, by eliminating Islamists, it was acting against Islam.

Also troubling is evidence, presented by Human Rights Watch, that the regime “failed to intervene” to stop violent attacks on churches in August, “even when they had been informed of ongoing attacks.” This may be a sign that the regime is willing to stoke sectarian tensions in order to gain leverage in its war against the Muslim Brotherhood. In the aftermath of the church attacks, the regime accused the Brotherhood, later labeling the group a terrorist organization. The accusations and terrorism label came in spite of repeated denunciations of violence by the Brotherhood, the absence of evidence linking them to terrorism, and the fact that an al-Qaeda-affiliated extremist group has claimed responsibility for much of the recent violence in the area.

The Muslim Brotherhood’s alleged misuse of religion was offered up as a major justification for Egypt’s military coup, which deposed Morsi, a longtime Brotherhood leader. Yet given that the post-coup government has arguably been more forceful about using religion as a tool than the Brotherhood, and has used religion to validate violent (and other) crimes, one has to ask why many secular Brotherhood critics have not batted an eye.

US-backed Egyptian regime sentences 683 more to die

29 April 2014 -- Bill Van Auken

A drumhead court in Egypt Monday handed down death sentences to 683 defendants—alleged members and supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB)—after a five-minute trial in which the judge refused to allow a word uttered or a shred of evidence submitted in defense of the condemned men, most of whom were not even present for the proceeding.

The mass trial and its pre-ordained verdict and sentence follow a similar judicial mockery last month in which 529 people were sentenced to die by the same judge, Saed Youssef. In a separate ruling Monday, Youssef upheld 37 of those death sentences while commuting the remainder to life prison terms.

Outside the heavily guarded courthouse in Minya, about 150 miles south of Cairo, relatives of the accused wept and shouted denunciations of the ruling junta and its de facto leader, former Mubarak-era military intelligence chief, Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

The charges against over 1,200 defendants—all facing either the gallows or a life in Egypt’s notoriously brutal prisons—stem from the death of a single policeman during protests organized by the Muslim Brotherhood against the military coup that ousted Egypt’s elected president, MB member Mohamed Mursi. During the same period, Egyptian security forces massacred as many as 2,000 protesters, including 1,000 of them in a single day.

As the judicial travesty in Minya makes abundantly clear, that reign of terror has only continued and become more firmly institutionalized under Sisi, who stepped down recently to become a candidate in what will inevitably be rigged elections for president.

In addition to the over 2,000 killed by Sisi’s junta, another 21,000 have been imprisoned. Thousands more have disappeared into a network of “black sites,” secret detention and torture centers.

The target of this vast machine of repression is not only the Muslim Brotherhood, but also protesters involved in the demonstrations that led to the downfall of former dictator Hosni Mubarak in February 2011. Three of them—Ahmed Maher and Mohammed Adel, leaders of the April 6 Youth Movement, which has now been outlawed on trumped-up charges of espionage and maligning the state, and Ahmed Douma—have been sentenced to three years of hard labor and $7,000 in fines for violating a decree outlawing all unauthorized protests. They have reported suffering continuous beatings by their jailers.

This wholesale and savage repression is aimed at the Egyptian working class, the social force that was the main actor, through its mass strikes and protests, in the toppling of the Mubarak regime. These strikes have continued, bringing out textile, steel, public transport, postal and port workers, including on the strategic Suez Canal. Under conditions in which the ruling junta is preparing to enact drastic IMF-dictated austerity measures, including the scrapping of subsidies on bread, electricity and gas, it is desperate to intimidate Egyptian workers with state violence.

The sheer scale of Egypt’s mass trials and mass death sentences is unrivaled in recent history, recalling the kind of atrocities carried out under the Nazis. With its weasel words and its concrete deeds, Washington stands exposed as the direct accomplice in this crime, with President Barack Obama all but soaping the hangman’s noose.

In a statement dripping with cynicism, the White House Monday allowed that Obama was “deeply troubled” by the mass death sentences in Egypt.

“While judicial independence is a vital part of democracy, this verdict cannot be reconciled with Egypt’s obligations under international human rights law,” the White House statement read. It appealed to Sisi and his fellow military rulers to “take a stand against this illogical action.”

Whom do they think they’re kidding? The niceties of “judicial independence” are hardly an issue in Egypt. The hanging judge Youssef—popularly known as “the butcher”—was installed in a special court created by the junta to do precisely what he is doing. Moreover, the draconian sentences have a very clear logic: they are an act of state terror designed to intimidate the Egyptian masses.

The statement continued: “Since the January 25 Revolution, the Egyptian people have aspired to be represented by a government that rules justly, respects their dignity, and provides economic opportunities. The United States supports these aspirations and wants Egypt’s transition to succeed.”

Lies piled on top of lies. The reality is that the Obama administration did everything it could to keep its “stalwart ally” Mubarak in power and smash the January 25 Revolution, sending the Egyptian dictator the ammunition to do it.

Having failed, it sought to secure a transfer of power to Mubarak’s intelligence chief and CIA “asset” Omar Suleiman. Failing that, it backed the assumption of power by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces. After briefly trying to utilize the right-wing Muslim Brotherhood government of Mursi to secure its interests in Egypt and the region, it quietly backed the military coup that overthrew him last July, refusing to call the coup a coup so that it could legally continue pouring in military aid.

The talk about wanting “Egypt’s transition to succeed” cannot be topped for sheer cynicism. The “transition,” aided and abetted by Washington, has proven to be to a dictatorship bloodier and more repressive than even the hated US-backed Mubarak.

It is hardly a coincidence that Monday’s mass death sentence comes only days after Washington approved the provision of 10 Apache attack helicopters on top of some $650 million in military aid already approved for the Egyptian junta this fiscal year. This is half of what the administration wanted to supply to the country’s repressive forces, the other half being held up by laws restricting aid to regimes brought to power through military coups.

The helicopter deal was correctly interpreted by the Egyptian junta as a green light to escalate its brutal crackdown.

Nothing could expose more nakedly the hypocritical fraud of the Obama administration’s “human rights” foreign policy. For the past several months, it has postured as the champion of democracy and human rights in Ukraine. It used what was, by comparison with Egypt, a relative handful of killings—whose perpetrator remains a matter of debate—to justify a fascist-led coup and a policy of continuous anti-Russian provocation that threatens to push the world into a nuclear third world war.

Similarly in Venezuela, the death of 41 people in violent demonstrations—the cause of which are again disputed—led to Secretary of State John Kerry denouncing the government for waging a “terror campaign against its own citizens.” No such terror was perceived in the massacres of thousands last August in the streets of Cairo or in the mass death sentences handed down over the past two months.

Egypt exposes the real face of US imperialist policy, which employs bloody state violence and militarism to pursue the interests of America’s financial and corporate ruling strata and suppress the social struggles and democratic aspirations of working people all over the globe.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Hirsi Ali: telling a critic from an Islamophobe

Hirsi has supported anti-immigration policies that target Muslim communities in the west. She has also suggested that the US constitution be amended to restrict Muslim civil liberties

Kashif N Chaudhry

 April 28, 2014

Ayaan Hirsi Ali is a Somali-born US citizen who is known — among other things — for her radical views on Islam. Her supporters consider her a leading critic, while many others believe she is guilty of Islamophobia and bigotry. I think she is a perfect case to educate people on the difference between the two.

Hirsi Ali immigrated to the Netherlands in 1992, claiming to escape a forced marriage. There, she rose to become a member of the House of Representatives in 2003. However, she was forced to resign from the Dutch parliament when her biographical details were challenged and publicly exposed as a chain of fabrications. She admitted to the lies and decided to move to the US. Just recently, Hirsi Ali was in the news again when Brandeis University, which had earlier nominated Hirsi for a honourary degree, decided she was not a fit candidate for the honour. “We cannot overlook that certain of her past statements are inconsistent with Brandeis University’s core values,” the university said. It added, “For all concerned, we regret that we were not aware of Ms Hirsi Ali’s record of anti-Islam statements.”

There is certainly all freedom to hold a different opinion within Islam or about Islam. Intellectual criticism leads to dialogue, which in turn leads to better understanding. However, there is a difference between critiquing Islam and spreading irrational fear of Muslims. There is a difference between intellectually commenting on a religion and inciting hatred of its adherents.

For better or worse, Muslims are not one unified community. As such, attributing the beliefs and acts of one extreme minority group — like the Taliban — to the whole community of Muslims worldwide is dishonest. Hirsi Ali is guilty of exactly this. She disregards the interpretation and practice of Islam by moderate Muslims and insists the interpretation of the terrorists is the only correct one. She contends that Islam is “a destructive, nihilistic cult of death” that must be defeated at all costs.

In an interview with Reason magazine, this became clear when the interviewer asked if by “defeating Islam” Hirsi Ali meant, “defeating radical Islam?” She replied: “No. Islam, period.” When the reporter asked her to further elaborate what she meant by “defeat Islam” she replied: “I think that we are at war with Islam. And there is no middle ground in wars. Islam can be defeated in many ways....You look them in the eye and flex your muscles and you say, ‘This is a warning. We won’t accept this anymore.’ There comes a moment when you crush your enemy.”

The interviewer then asked, “Militarily?” Hirsi Ali replied: “In all forms.”

Hirsi Ali’s defenders point out that she did not refer to militarily attacking Muslims but attacking Islam — that it is kosher to attack an ideology as long as people were not affected. When pressed to explain how Islam would be “militarily crushed”, if not by military action on Muslims, they finally conceded that Hirsi Ali was in fact speaking of radical Muslims. This is all good, except that the only person who does not make that important distinction between radical Islam and moderate Islam is Hirsi Ali herself when she claims the threat is not from radical Islam but from “Islam, period”.

This dangerous xenophobia against Muslims is not surprising. Hirsi Ali has been stroking an irrational fear of Muslims amongst western audiences for the last many years. This has led to increased intolerance, even violence. Andres Breivik — who went on a killing spree in Norway in 2011 — praised Hirsi Ali in his manifesto, stating that she deserved a Nobel Peace Prize. Hirsi has supported anti-immigration policies that target Muslim communities in the west. She has also suggested that the US constitution be amended to restrict Muslim civil liberties. She has called for closure of all Muslim day schools in the US. 

Imagine Hirsi Ali using the exact same words for Judaism, i.e. that Judaism is “a destructive, nihilistic cult of death”, which must be militarily crushed. Imagine her advocating the closure of all Jewish day schools in the US. Imagine her saying the same things about any other religion or philosophy.

I decided to carry out an experiment to see if Hirsi’s defenders were indeed right and there was nothing wrong in saying what she did. I put “atheism must be crushed in all forms, including militarily” as my Facebook status. Reactions came in fast and I was labelled “against the spirit of secularism”, “sad soul”, “intolerant and insane”, “no different from the Taliban”, etc.

I agree. Hirsi is not very different from the radical extremists she ought to be really targetting. She gives them credibility by claiming their version of Islam is the only correct one and others, like me, are “bad Muslims”. Like the Taliban, Hirsi is rigid in her views and is judgmental. Like them, she speaks to curtail the civil liberties of fellow citizens and inspires intolerance and violence. We must not encourage such behaviour with honourary degrees. Her bigotry must be condemned in all forms.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Monday April 28 panel discussion: Human Rights in Egypt: When will Canada's detained come home?

Media Advisory
Human Rights in Egypt | When will Canada's detained come home?

Ottawa April 27, 2014 - A panel of eyewitnesses, experts and academics speak on human rights violations, highlighting the cases of Khaled Al-Qazzaz and Mohammad Fahmy, and Press Conference.

·       Canadian citizen Sarah Attia, whose husband Khaled Al-Qazzaz has been falsely imprisoned in Egypt, continues to raise awareness about his inadequate care and deteriorating health. Sarah Attia is urging the Canadian Government to do more to help bring justice for her husband and family while he is unlawfully imprisoned in Egypt.

·       A member of Mohamed Fahmy’s family will give an eye-witness account of his situation and the conditions in Tora Prison, Cairo. Canadian journalist Mohamed Fahmy was taken prisoner December 29, 2013, when he was acting bureau chief for Al Jazeera English. This Sunday, April 27, is his birthday, to be spent for 23 hours in a dank cell.

·       Hilary Homes from Amnesty International Canada will speak of the human rights violations taking place in Egypt. Amnesty International has called for the immediate and unconditional release of Canadian citizen and prisoner of conscience Mohamed Fahmy and the release from detention of detained Canadian permanent resident Khaled Al-Qazzaz who has been held without charge or trial for nine months.

·       Dr. Monia Mazigh, a Canadian academic and human rights expert who campaigned tirelessly for the release of her husband, Maher Arar, when he was deported to Syria, tortured and held without charge, will also address the audience. Dr. Mazigh is author of Hope and Despair, a 2008 book about her pursuit of justice.

Hosted by the Egyptian Canadian Coalition for Democracy (ECCD) at the University of Ottawa on Monday April 28 at 6:30 pm in the Faculty of Social Sciences (120 University Private), Room 1006.

Also, join Sarah Attia for a press conference at the Charles-Lynch Press Conference Room in Centre Block on Parliament Hill, on Tuesday April 29 at 10.30 am.

For more information:
Osama Elkhodary
(613) 265-6509