One of the most respected human rights lawyers in Canada is warning Parliament that a motion against “Islamophobia” can be used to silence critics of Muslim extremists.
David Matas was testifying before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage Wednesday when he declared that “fear of some elements of Islam is mere prudence.”
The committee is studying an Islamophobia motion passed by the House of Commons and is expected to report back to the Justin Trudeau government on legal remedies to combat the problem. The motion did not define Islamophobia, and critics say it could be used to restrict any criticism of radical Islam, or free speech in general.
Matas is the senior legal counsel to the Jewish human rights organization B’nai Brith Canada and has been honored with the Order of Canada.
“Not every fear of Islam is Islamophobia,” Matas said, adding that only the “foolhardy” could ignore the obvious involvement of radical Islam in terrorism around the world.
Matas suggested that if such as Islamophobia exists, it did not “appear in a vacuum” but has resulted from “a fear of incitement and acts of hatred and terrorism coming from elements of the Islamic community.” He urged the committee to not just examine alleged Islamophobia in Canadian society but also to examine Muslim activists who are preaching hatred and justifying terrorism.
The lack of a definition for Islamophobia also troubled the second witness before the committee. Shimon Fogel, who is the CEO of the Center for Israel and Jewish Affairs, said the committee must define the word before it attempts to find legal mechanisms to stop it. He referenced the Toronto District School Board’s description of Islamophobia that includes any opposition to Islamic political movements.
On Wednesday the Quebec legislature passed Bill 62 — a law that now forbids any form of face covering in any public space that receives funding from the provincial government. Critics are already saying it unfairly targets Muslims.