The Quebec massacre and the hate that the Canadian state produced
By Noaman G. Ali & Shafiqullah Aziz
Muslims are not safe in Justin Trudeau’s Canada, and it is not because of Donald Trump’s anti-Muslim language and actions in America. For the last sixteen years, Canadian politicians, including Trudeau, have created and fueled a climate of Islamophobia.
Prime Minister Trudeau reacted with “shock and sadness” to the massacre of six Muslims in Quebec City earlier this week. He called it a cowardly attack, stating that “last night’s horrible crime against the Muslim community was an act of terror committed against Canada and all Canadians.” He went on to say “we will grieve with you, we will defend you, we will love you and we will stand with you.”
But what does it mean for our Prime Minister to say that Canada will love and defend Muslims when this country has continually waged war in Muslim countries for over fifteen years?
Since 2001, in the name of “freedom,” both Liberal and Conservative governments have carried out wars against Muslim countries such as Afghanistan and Libya, and they have provided weapons and support for wars in Muslim countries like Yemen, Iraq, Pakistan, Syria and elsewhere. When sending in regular troops wasn’t an option, the Canadian government deployed covert Special Operations Forces to Iraq. Hundreds of thousands, even millions of Muslims, have died as a result of these wars. Entire countries like Iraq, Libya, Yemen and Syria have been ripped apart.
Continuously waging war on Muslims abroad has repeatedly required painting Muslims at home as threats. Muslims are the problem; we have to “de-radicalize” our youth, the “bad” Muslims. And when they cannot find “bad” Muslims, they create them.
In 2003, over twenty Muslim immigrants were arrested in and around Toronto because they supposedly had ties to al-Qaeda. There were no such ties, but all the young men were harassed and ultimately deported. Otherwise, the police goad our youth into “terrorist plots” that are clear cases of entrapment. Undercover informants are paid up to millions of dollars to lure and encourage impressionable people into acting criminally. Last year, a judge in British Columbia for the first time dismissed a case “manufactured” by the Royal Canadian Mountain Police against a Muslim couple.
To create a polarized culture for political support, Canadian politicians have banked on hatred against Muslims. The former Conservative prime minister Stephen Harper attacked niqabs and “barbaric cultural practices” in clear reference to Muslims.
But we shouldn’t forget that the current Liberal prime minister Justin Trudeau supported Bill S-7, “The Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act” in 2015. Trudeau also supported Bill C-51, the “Anti-terrorism Act, 2015,” which restricts freedom of speech and virtually paints any and all opposition to the government as “terrorism.” The Bill was promoted with pictures of Muslims being labeled as terrorists.
It is of no surprise that the attacks took place in Quebec, the province whose ruling class has gone the furthest in anti-Muslim hatred. With a large population of immigrants from French-speaking countries, many of them Muslim countries, the politicians need hatred as a prop to discriminate against these working-class and poor populations.
In 2013, the Parti Québecois tried to pass a “Charter of Values,” arguing over niqabs and burkinis, squarely targeting Muslims. Recent debates have echoed this kind of divisive hatemongering.
To keep the votes of immigrants, Trudeau says that he welcomes Muslims and other immigrants. But for so many of us, that promise of welcome is one of low-paying jobs and substandard housing and communities. And while Trudeau says what happened on Sunday in Quebec was a “cowardly attack,” he has no problem supporting cowardly legislation like Bills S-7 and C-51 that have promoted fear and hatred against Muslims in Canada.
After the September 11 attacks in America, Muslims were forced to live in a climate of fear. We discussed whether or when Muslims in Canada would begin to be killed, as Muslims were being attacked in America. Last Sunday we got our answer: It took fifteen years for the climate of hatred to become one of open lethal violence. It was only a matter of time.
You cannot go around the world bombing and sanctioning to death hundreds of thousands, even millions of Muslims, and then tell us that it is only wrong when it happens inside our borders.
You cannot produce a climate of hatred and fear through discriminatory language and laws, and then tell us it is wrong when someone takes discrimination to murder.
You cannot build an entire political and economic system that depends on dehumanizing and devaluing entire groups of people, whether they are Natives, Blacks and/or Muslims, and then say it is wrong when these people are targeted and killed.
Our brothers were killed on Sunday, but make no mistake: the trigger may have been pulled by white supremacist Alexandre Bissonnette, but the rotten ideas that filled his head were provided not by Trump, nor just by Harper or Trudeau, but by the whole Canadian ruling class.
Rest in peace to all the victims: Azzeddine Soufiane, Abdelkrim Hassane, Mamadou Tanou Barry, Ibrahim Barry, Khaled Belkacemi, and Aboubaker Thabti.