Words matter. We’ve heard the dictum often since the Quebec City mosque massacre. Yes, they do. In fact, the statement “words matter” matters. In my experience it is either a rebuke to those who argue for the widest possible latitude in speech freedoms, or a preamble to proposing speech limitations.
Timing matters too. Because of the mosque tragedy, on Feb. 16, the House will likely vote unanimously for Motion 103, which is potentially a retrograde step for freedom of speech in Canada, at least insofar as it concerns “Islamophobia.”
M-103 asks for a study to determine “a whole-of-government approach to reducing or eliminating systemic racism and religious discrimination including Islamophobia.” Though singled out for special consideration, it is noteworthy that the motion does not define Islamophobia.
What I fear is that MP Iqra Khalid, who tabled M-103, may understand Islamophobia to mean what its original promoters, the 56 Muslim-majority bloc of the United Nations known as the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), say it means. The OIC wants to see the Cairo Declaration on Human rights become the template for Islamophobia policies everywhere. The Cairo Declaration asserts the superiority of Islam and defines freedom of speech according to Shariah law, which considers any criticism of Muhammad blasphemy.
The OIC is inching ever closer to realizing that goal. Many EU countries are seeking to criminalize Islamophobia by using “racism and xenophobia,” “public order” or “denigration” laws, which are essentially proxies for the Cairo Declaration. As I noted in a previous column, former French screen star and animal-rights activist Brigitte Bardot, who finds Islam’s practice of animal sacrifice abhorrent and says so publicly, has been prosecuted and fined four times for “inciting racial hatred.”