Op-Ed: "Muslim-Bashing Dilutes Our Democratic Values"

June 11, 2006

Source: Toronto Star


On June 11, 2006 the Toronto Star ran an opinion piece by Haroon Siddiqui, the Toronto Star's editorial page editor emeritus. Siddiqui writes, "The latest hand-wringing on multiculturalism and its first cousin, immigration, in reality is a debate about Muslims. When some people say we must rethink immigration, they are not talking about the problem of economic integration of newcomers. They are pointing fingers at Muslims: Do these bearded men and burqa-clad women — their infinitely small number magnified by the media — belong in Canada? Yes, they do. Similar doubts were raised earlier about Catholics, Orthodox Jews and others. Muslims are no less integrated than other comparable groups. In fact, evidence points to higher levels of education and lower rates of crime among them. Yet there's a drumbeat of Muslim-bashing, conflating the criminality of a few with all. This assertion of collective guilt takes many forms. Any time some Muslims somewhere commit an atrocity, a chorus of voices demands of Muslims everywhere: 'What do you have to say about this?' They should have to say nothing more than Christians or Jews or Hindus must for the wrongs of their co-religionists. As Lieutenant-Governor James Bartleman rightly said: 'We would not condemn the Italian community because of the Mafia. We would not condemn the Irish community because of the IRA.' Or Serb Canadians for the ethnic cleansing in the former Yugoslavia in the name of religious nationalism. Muslims are also told to 'take responsibility' for their deviants, 'root out the extremists,' 'weed out the radicals,' etc. How are they supposed to do that? By becoming vigilantes?... It is laudable that many Muslim leaders and groups are, voluntarily, offering to help in figuring out an early detection system to identify militant deviancy, especially among the young. But it is the responsibility of the state to ferret out and prosecute criminals, whether they invoke religion or not. Fear spawns bigotry. Whatever hurt it might be causing the beleaguered Muslim community, it poses a greater danger to the principles that make Canada what it is: the envy of the world."

See also: Islam, International