Tuesday, January 31, 2017
The Mosque Massacre and the Dark Legacy of Stephen Harper
As the country mourns the victims of the massacre in that Quebec City mosque, we are also finding out more about the terrorist who shot them.
And what might have motivated Alexandre Bissonnette to commit such a brutal and cowardly act.
The suspect in the deadly attack on a Quebec City mosque was known in the city’s activist circles as an online troll who was inspired by extreme right-wing French nationalists, stood up for U.S. President Donald Trump and was against immigration to Quebec – especially by Muslims.
But even though Trump's anti-Muslim campaign may have emboldened him, the bigotry that inflamed him was nurtured right here in Canada.
During the Dark Decade of Stephen Harper.
Long before Donald J. Trump and some Republicans began demonizing Muslims and “radical Islam,” the government of Mr. Trudeau’s predecessor as prime minister, Stephen Harper, was maligning Islam and discriminating against Muslims.
Mr. Harper, first elected in 2006, waged cultural warfare on Muslims and used every opportunity to tie terrorism to Muslims. The Harper government banned the niqab, the veil worn by some Muslim women, from citizenship ceremonies and systematically cold-shouldered mainstream Muslim organizations.
In 2015, he suggested that mosques were incubating radicals. He constantly claimed that the West was fighting not just the Islamic State, but was at war also with “the international jihadist movement.” Heintervened to slow the admission of refugees from Syria, saying some were potential terrorists, and prioritized Christian asylum seekers from Syria and Iraq. Sound familiar?
The bigot soil may have been tilled by Quebec's fractious debate over the accommodation of religious minorities.
But it was Harper and his Con regime who brought that ugly debate back to life...
For crass political purposes.
By making the last election campaign all about niqabs and Muslims.
And Kellie Leitch and other Cons are only watering the seeds that Harper planted...
And by so doing can only encourage other violent right wing losers like Alexandre Bissonnette...
As Siddiqi points out, we may have a new and better prime minister...
Mr. Trudeau reversed Mr. Harper’s policy on Syrian refugees and welcomed more than 35,000 refugees during his first year in government. Today, hardly a week goes by without my hearing about a neighbor or friend, or a church, synagogue or community group, going to the airport to welcome their Syrian family.
And we may live in a better Canada.
I remain an incurably optimistic Canadian, and I want to believe that Canada is still not the United States. But as Sunday’s attack showed, we face the challenge of undoing the damage of years of suspicion and bigotry.
But Harper's dark legacy still haunts us.
And until that legacy is finally buried it will continue to poison this country...