PMO’s slander insults all Muslims

Letters to the Editor, Toronto Star
Re: Prime Minister’s remarks very troubling for Canadian Muslims, Feb. 3

As a Canadian Jew, I am appalled that the Prime Minister’s Office would slander National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) as having terrorist ties. NCCM is Canada’s most conscientious and reputable Muslim civil liberties organization. It is a responsible and essential voice of reason, integrity and human rights for all.

NCCM had pointed out that the PM’s delegation to Israel included a prominent Islamophobic spokesperson and a representative of the Jewish Defence League, correctly labelled a terrorist organization in the U.S. The Harper government responded to this legitimate concern by attacking the messenger. This is consistent with other heavy handed attacks on free speech.

The Tories slashed the funding for the Canadian Arab Federation when its executive director raised concerns about the PM’s support of Israel’s assault on Gaza in 2009-10. It also slashed the funding of Kairos Canada for speaking out for Palestinian rights. And it funded and endorsed the Canadian Parliamentary Association to Combat Antisemitism’s attempts to make it illegal to criticize Israel. Shame on the PMO.

Diana Ralph, Ottawa

Many Muslims were very insulted by Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s claims that the NCCM has “documented ties to a terrorist organization such as Hamas.” I love Canada; this is our home. We have been here for over 40 years and enjoy our life here. Mr. Harper is making many of us agonize over this statement.

Thank you for doing what you do best, and that is, fair and unbiased news reporting and journalism.

Mrs. Anela Jadunandan, Pickering

The recent remarks made by the PMO director of communications accusing a Muslim civil liberties organization National Council of Canadian Muslims of having documented ties to terrorist organizations reminds me of how the Saudi kingdom deals with dissent. The Saudi government recently passed a law that treats any form of dissent as terrorism. The similarity with which criticism and free speech is quashed by the Saudi royal family and the PMO office makes me think twice when I say Canada is not Saudi Arabia.

Azhar Manzoor, Calgary

I would like to thank you for supporting the Canadian democratic system and have the courage to publish Ihsaan Gardee’s views in your respected paper. The democratic system and Canadian values are something we all proud of and it is our duty as Canadians to protect our rights and make the government accountable for its actions and decisions. What the PMO did is just a bullying tactics to run away from answering a valid question by a respected organization such as National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM).

Ahmed Ibrahim, Kanata

Thank you for publishing Mr. Gardee’s article on our Prime Minister Office’s latest hurtful speech. I’m glad an organization such as the National Council of Canadian Muslims exists to defend our civil rights and act as a unified voice for Muslims in Canada.

Mr. Harper should know better that his words can have grave consequences, and Muslims in Canada face enough challenges already. As Mr. Gardee said, we are tired of dealing with illegitimate and unprofessional political claims.

Abdallah El-Falou, Mississauga

As a Canadian Muslim, I truly appreciate your action in in allowing the Muslim community’s voice to be heard in a responsible and positive way. As Canada’s most widely read newspaper, this opinion piece will make all Canadians aware of this irresponsible act by the PMO’s office, an act which only contributes to the erroneous impression many have of the Canadian Muslim community.

Liaquat Ally, Toronto

Thank you for publishing NCCM’s letter. Your action proves that Canada is still a free nation.

Aida Kamel, Waterloo

It’s good to know that Toronto Star supports Canadian Muslims. Thank you!

Imran Ali, Brampton

I wholeheartedly agree with the NCCM’s action against the PMO. As a Canadian born and raised Muslim who has regularly travelled and lived abroad I have come across many who insult Canada’s values and principles. On such occasions I have always seen it fit to act as an ambassador to defend my great nation.

To see NCCM, the ambassadors of my faith, insulted with the gravest of accusations is a big slap in the face. Such irresponsible, baseless allegations are something I expect from the highly under-educated, not from the highest authority of my country.

The PMO’s actions are in stark contradiction to Canada’s honoured openness and value-system that makes us the pinnacle of the world, and I pray this message does not jeopardize the image our predecessors sacrificed so much to gain.

Umar Ashfaq Shuaib, Edmonton

I completely support the NCCM’s decision to sue the PMO. It is bad enough having to face Islamophobia on the streets, in the workplace, in the province of Quebec, and now on the national level from Jason MacDonald. By MacDonald’s own skewed logic, he should acknowledge that he himself has ties with the terrorist Anders Breivik, since Breivik quoted Pamela Geller approvingly in the manifesto that he wrote before he went on a mad murder spree in Norway, and Geller was introduced to a Canadian audience by the Rabbi Daniel Korobkin, and Stephen Harper accompanied Korobkin on a trip to Israel.

The terrorist connection is quite clear then, by MacDonald’s own logic. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

Sadat Anwar, Toronto

As a Canadian Muslim, it’s unthinkable to me that the NCCM, our leading civil liberties organization, has been defamed by the PMO. The NCCM has nation-wide support, and the support of many human rights and interfaith groups, including Amnesty International. Defaming either Canadian Muslims or their organizations without any evidence to support these outrageous claims is an offence to the very spirit of Canada.

Canadian Muslims are very much a part of Canada, and contribute to our society in all manner of positive ways. We ask our fellow citizens to stand with us, to keep the Canadian values of multiculturalism, inclusion and respect for each other alive.

Ausma Khan, Highlands Ranch, CO

I read the piece about NCCM suing the PMO and it was a pleasant surprise to see someone standing up for their rights and fighting back against the bully. The PMO needs to realize that this isn’t a school playground of yesteryear where you can pick on whoever you want without consequence. Stand up and answer the tough questions PMO rather than slandering dissenters to change the topic.

Ommer Chohan, Pickering

This slow but incremental type of aggressive bullying by Harper’s government (or any other government) should raise a huge red flag. It not only tries to intimidate and smear Canadian Muslims, but any Canadian who legitimately criticizes the government. Then we have the audacity to go and lecture other Third World countries about how they deal with dissent?

It is well worth remembering governments who behave in this manner do not happen overnight, but in a slow, calculated manner so as not alert the general public. Canadians need to be aware that what touches one of us, touches us all.

Maged Kamal, Ottawa

As an active member of the Muslim community in Canada, I find the recent labeling of a respectable and mainstream Muslim organization by the PMO to be deeply troubling and unsettling. For the PMO to casually label a Muslim organization as having “documented ties” to terrorism without any facts to support their claim is a cause for worry for all Muslims and Muslim organizations in Canada.

As this seems to be a classic case of bullying, I now naturally wonder who’s next? Are we being told to put up or shut up?

Without a formal retraction and apology by the PMO, I’m afraid this will set a dangerous precedent where Muslims in the future might just choose to shut up and censor themselves than face the wrath of defamation.

Hamood Aleem, Brampton