Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Publish Day - Ink Blog - Terror comes to Canada

The big news in Canada this week is the arrest of 17 (so far) suspects in connection with a terrorist plot to blow up some pretty high-profile targets. These include the Peace Tower in Ottawa and the CN Tower in Toronto.

All told, it's pretty scary stuff for a generally-pacifist nation like ours.

Of course this disturbs me greatly. But what digs even deeper is the anti-Muslim sentiment that the arrests have elicited. The names of the accused suggest they are all Muslim. In an almost-repeat performance of the post-9/11 backlash, Muslims here are being targeted simply because of their religion. A mosque has been vandalized, and folks who had nothing to do with the plot are being threatened.

This goes against my view of the world, for it opens the door to similar discrimination against members of any group. Tomorrow, it could be me. Or you.

So I wrote this for today's paper:
Don't tar Muslims with terrorist brush
Published Tuesday, June 6, 2006
The London Free Press

I’ll be the first to admit that when I initially read the list of those arrested in connection with the alleged terrorist plot to blow up major Canadian landmarks, I was struck by the origin of their names.

It would have been easy for me to jump to the usual conclusions equating an entire religion with terrorism.

Easy is what vandals have done to a Toronto mosque in the wake of the arrests. Easy is what self-righteous Canadians are doing in droves this week: blaming all Muslims for the alleged acts of a relative few.

After we get past the initial hysteria associated with Canada’s new-found status as a global target of terrorists, we need to ask ourselves whether our collective response represents the best we can do.

It doesn’t. Those who target all Muslims expose themselves as the racists that they are.

Canadians would do well to let the justice system deal with these alleged criminals. Anyone not already in custody does not deserve to be victimized by association.

Your turn: I recognize that the spectre of terrorism frightens us all. But does the ensuing backlash scare you, too? If most terrorist plots seem to involve radical Muslims, will the religion ever be able to move past this obvious problem with public relations?


daisy said...

I think the backlash scares me most. In my opinion, it just gives fuel to the fire of those that do the plotting and planning of terrorist activities.

Jennifer said...

I too was very shocked to hear this on the news the other night. My mouth literally dropped!

It's very wrong to assume just because someone is of a certain culture or religion that they are the same as the ones who've demonstrated such evilness. And the "backlash" I think is a little more scary then anything else. Like Daisy said "it fuels the fire"

I hope that our governement will get everyone involved and help to keep our country as safe as can be, and I hope that Canada lives up to it's reputation.

AverageMom said...

The backlash scares me more than the actual threat. The terrorists can be apprehended, but the backlash generally cannot be contained. Terrorism from "outsiders" doesn't feel real to me. Hate from within is here, and it's right in my face. That's what scares me.

CanEragon said...

Montreal has been on Notice and the city is reviewing our terror preparedness, the issue has been on the news daily since Sunday.

For myself, I have NOT seen any backlash in my neighborhood
(downtown - West). I have not seen any scuttle on Concordia's Campus either. We have a great number of Muslim students and families in this section of the city.

Montreal officials have called for Calm in our city, and for the most part violence against population, as I see it, has not happen. That does not mean it doesn't, in other more saturated areas.

After 9-11 in Miami I watched people go crazy shooting, looting and killing Muslims, "just because!"

Yes, backlash scares me - because if backlash turns into Vendetta and/or Vengance then we are all in trouble just imagine what is possible, or come to my blog and read the report from Baghdad Burning.

Racism exists all over, so does discrimination and all that it needs to be triggered is one specific event or accusation.

Canada cannot become a police state and our people should NOT take matters into their own hands. That's why we have law enforcement and armed services to take care of the "big ones."

We must maintain calm and civility.


OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

I soooo agree with you Carmi...Yes, Terrorism is deeply deeply frightening, but Racism scares the hell out of me, too...And as you said...next, it could be you ot me. And you know from a historical point of view and even a very present day point of view, Anti-Whomever...still runs deep in many peoples hearts and minds. I always go back to the words of Oscar Hammerstein in the song, "You've Got To Be Taight"...and to lump a whole people together because of a few--really scares me more than I can stand....It is so much like another time and place...70 years ago...and up until 1945...the wholesale massacre of many people because a larger group of people didn't think they deserved to live...Help. I do not minimize the fantacism of those few in the world we live in now...no. Not at all. But let's not lose our heads and hearts completely here...
So I agree with you Carmi and think what you wrote is very important.

Just a trumpet player said...

I too agree : terrorism is frightening but racism is also very scary.

My ex hubby was Palestinian : born and raised in Canada but there is absolutely no doubts about his origin ( well, the color of his skin and the last name might help a bit). We started getting lots of weird phone calls and funny look on the streets right after the horrible events in the US.

Funny how somebody who's well appreciated in his neighbourhood can suddenly seem dangerous...

KaraMia said...

The backlash is what terrorism is about. The idea of it is to inspire terror, not just with the act itself, but with the fall out resulting from the act. to give into that fear is giving the terrorists exactly what they hoped for. It fuels their cause and helps them to justify their means. We have a large muslum community where I live and I even have to stop myself from typecasting. My son goes to school with many muslem children and their faces are as innocent and precious as my sons. That, in the end, is what keeps my fears grounded in reality. Terrorism will always be the tool of the few, it is never representative of a culture, race, or religion.

susie said...

does the ensuing backlash scare you, too? If most terrorist plots seem to involve radical Muslims, will the religion ever be able to move past this obvious problem with public relations?

I have to say that the backlash does not scare me. I think most people are smart enough not to paint everyone with the same brush.

However, I do not think that Islam will be ablt to move past this problem with PR anytime soon.

I also wonder why the suspects aren't being charged with high treason? (or at least I haven't read/heard that they will be).

I don't believe they should be allowed to stay in Canada though. They forfeited their "rights" to Canada when they started plotting against this beautiful country and its people, imho.