They are part of the national fabric that holds our country together. They contribute to America in many ways, and deserve the same respect as any of us. I pledge to spread this message, and affirm our country’s principles of liberty and justice for all.
As a Canadian liberal blogger, I was contacted by a project representative from My Fellow American back in October, the month during which in Ontario, my province of residence, we had provincial elections underway. At the time I was volunteering to help with the campaign of my local liberal candidate. Suffice to say, I was doing everything in my power to prevent a conservative government forming in Ontario.
Fortunately, after a hard fought victory, a liberal caucus formed the goverment again under the leadership of now third-time premier Dalton McGuinty. However, the liberal candidate in my riding was the only liberal to be re-elected in what is known as the Tri-cities area, three cities, Kitchener, Waterloo, Cambridge, that are geographically so close togheter that they are virtually indistinguishable.
Many things have happened since October, with the conservatives relentlessly attempting to roll back decades of liberal achievement. In particular their battle to single out the assimilation and integration of Muslim Canadians as a cultural issue has been a dominating discourse among conservative faithfulls here in Canada.
I was shocked to learn recently that a new niqab law has been put in place at citizenship oaths in Canada. Certainly a non-issue, where not many Muslim women wear the niqab to their citizenship oaths in the first place, has been made into a divisive and emotionally stiring problem for many would be Canadian Muslims. I could at least say that the wearing of a niqab at a citizenship oath is by far the least of Canadians' problems. Just as we don't care whether a woman wears a g-string under her attire, so do we not involve ourselves on the question of what a woman wears on the outside, as long as it's not nothing of course.
The problem also resides with the conservatives' defense of such laws or impositions. Like the idea that somehow wearing the niqab or hijab is somehow degrading to women and that the cultural habit is primitive and does not belong in a civilized society such as the one in Canada. Most cons hatch these defense arguments by equating the behaviour of some men, that just so happen to be Muslim, in some remote areas of the world, such as Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq. Like if a man is seen striking a woman or forcing her to wear a burqa or a hijab, and he is Muslim, then surely it's a practice he inherited by following the strictures of behavior as outlined in the Qur'an. I call nonsense on such arguments.
This is a double-edged sword of course in the culture wars happening all around the world. Just as new face cover laws are being passed in Europe and here in North America, banning women from wearing attire that hides certain physical aspects of their bodies, so are are there laws in Saudi Arabia that prevent women from prancing around in skin clad bikinis or shape revealing clothing.
When will governments around the world stop telling women what they can and cannot do on the basis of some ridiculous ideological struggle?
Thus equally disturbing and perhaps happening simultaneously is the controversy sorrounding Lowes, a home improvement chain that recently pulled it's ads from the All American Muslim reality TV show airing on TLC.
The reason behind the dropout… wait for it… were complaints from an evangelical Christian group claiming that the show is, "propaganda that riskily hides the Islamic agendaÃÃÂ¢s clear and present danger to American liberties and traditional values.ÃÃÂ¢
What a nasty way to underhandedly be bigoted and use religion as a shield for your bigotry. If anything, and although I'm not a Muslim nor an American, is to prevent this kind of bigotry to penetrate Canada, a relatively accepting country. The best weapon I have that I know can combat both a conservative government bent on alienating Muslim Canadians, and evangelical bigoted religious zealots, is my vote.
I will always maintain my vote for the party that represents acceptance and multiculturalism in Canada. I may not be able to influence government in the U.S. to fight against discrimination of Muslims there, but at least I know I'm doing my part to fight injustice here in my home country.
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For years, I've been engaged in interfaith work in a variety of ways. I work for the Catholic peace movement, Pax Christi (the Peace of Christ). Through my job, I have helped organize a couple of Fall Assemblies at which we had a panel of Christian, Jewish, and Muslim … Continue Reading »
Asalaamu alaikum. Peace to all who read this. My name is Saif Allah Downs. I'm a 31 year old revert to Islam. I was a Christian for many years but never truly satisfied that I had found my home, the place where I belonged. I had struggled to understand my … Continue Reading »