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Islamophobia and the Canadian state

Sid Lacombe

June 8, 2021
The Islamophobic hate attack and murder of a Muslim family in London is a direct result of decades of demonization of Muslims by politicians and the media in this country. 
That demonization has led to a never ending series of racist attacks on Muslims from the Quebec City mosque shooting to the murder of Mohamed-Aslim Zafis to the ongoing attacks against Muslim places of worship like the downtown Masjid in Toronto. 
Liberal pundits will decry the, “failure to act” on Islamophobia and politicians of all stripes will send condolences by tweet to try and absolve themselves of blame. 
The reality is that this is not a failure to act - at every turn our politicians have stoked hatred against Muslims as a means to score cheap political points and to justify war abroad and suspension of civil liberties at home. 
Conservative premier Doug Ford sent his thoughts and prayers to the victims. But he is to blame. When he champions the work of Islamophobic hate preacher Charles McVety, he is stoking this hatred. 
Ford has been working to have McVety’s Canadian Christian college become an accredited university. McVety has used the college to rally the far right and Islamophobes even inviting people such as Dutch politician Geert Wilders to speak at the college. McVety once said that, “Islam is not just a religion, it’s a political and cultural system as well and we know that Christians, Jews and Hindus don’t have the same mandate for a hostile takeover.” Doug Ford still publicly calls him a friend.
What is Ford nation supposed to think? 
His dog whistles have only become louder during the pandemic. In an attempt to rally his flagging base, Ford has begun a new campaign to close the borders of Canada. The videos for the campaign tell Ontarians that there is a foreign threat to our health and safety. He ends the video saying that, “now is the time to act” to protect our children. This is a call for hate crimes. 
The federal Conservatives are the blame as well. From the “barbaric cultural practices” hotline championed by Conservative candidates to the former leader, Stephen Harper calling Islamicism the greatest threat to peace in the world, they have this blood on their hands. 
And the Conservatives are not alone in whipping up this hatred. General Rick Hillier, who just recently finished a high profile stint as the coordinator of Ontario’s vaccine rollout was initially a Liberal appointee. He famously told Canadians that our role in Afghanistan was to, “kill detestable murderers and scumbags”. 
Both parties are also responsible for manufacturing phoney terror cases to maintain bloated budgets for the security industries. Liberals and Conservatives alike have maintained draconian laws that still curtail the freedoms of people like Mohamed Harkat and Hassan Diab who have committed no crimes other than being Muslim. 
The demonization of Muslims has deep roots in Canada. It has been used to justify war in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Mali and is still the foundation of our ruling classes support for Israeli aggression and apartheid. As politicians of all stripes line up to denounce Palestinians and to support Israel, the far right recognizes this as a call to action against Muslims. Violent attacks on pro-Palestine activists was the result.
Our political leaders are not simply unable to stem the tide of hatred - they are actively encouraging it. 
Islamophobia is used to justify imperial ambitions and the looting of resources abroad. Racism against Indigenous people is needed to justify resource extraction at home. Anti-black racism is used to justify bloated police budgets and anti-Asian racism is used to deflect attention from the failures of our political leaders during the pandemic. 
In each case the goal is to use racism to cement the rule of the rich over our society. Corporate interest in exploitation of workers and pillage of the land needs racism to keep us divided.
This should not surprise us. The discovery of 215 graves of Indigenous children in Kamloops shows that this is a country that was born of racism and murder. 
Racism is baked into the DNA of capitalism. We mourn the victims in London and Kamloops and Gaza and remember that they are all part of a larger picture of a system that values profits over human life. 
Smash racism! Smash capitalism!
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