Mississauga MP Faces Death Threats After Condemning Islamophobia

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A Mississauga MPP is facing death threats after condemning Islamophobia.

Iqra Khalid was just a lawyer working for the city before she was elected MP for Mississauga-Erin Mills as a candidate for the Liberal Party. But there was no doubt that for a good chunk of the Muslim community in MIssissauga, Khalid was someone that would not only stand up for them, but represent what the best of Canada had to offer.

A year now into her term, she has gone from unassuming backbencher in Justin Trudeau's government to grabbing the national media spotlight. Last week, Khalid tabled Motion M-103 in the House of Commons, which calls on the federal government to condemn Islamophobia and combat all forms of systemic racism and religious discrimination.

A simple motion, which is not a law but rather directs the Parliament of Canada to undertake a certain action, has somehow sparked a huge debate about Islamophobia, it's meaning, and whether we should be using it to describe the wave of anti-Muslim incidents across North America—the latest of which was the tragic Quebec City mosque shooting.

Let's repeat for the sake of repeating here, this motion is not just about Islam or the Muslim community. It condemns all forms of religious discrimination. But given that the motion is being tabled by a young, Muslim woman, it has triggered a backlash of opposition from both current Conservative leadership candidates and Internet trolls. Khalid herself has been offered additional police protection, as Khalid's staff at her Mississauga constituency office have been receiving threatening messages and phone calls from across Canada. As this CBC report indicated, an investigation is ongoing.

A phobia is defined as an extreme or irrational fear of or aversion to something. It's something you see or experience and, for no rational explanation, feel extreme fear. Think of someone with arachnophobia (fear of spiders), acrophobia (fear of heights), or the more commonly known claustrophobia (fear of enclosed spaces). One could therefore assume that Islamophobia means fear of the Islamic ideology.

But is this fear justified? Or is it just what most of see as vaguely disguised hatred of people that practice a certain faith? Is raising questions about certain tenets of the Qu'ran considered Islamophobic or is it okay to ask questions? Personally, I don’t know, but I think we need to educate ourselves and have a dialogue before we let our emotions run wild.

Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie has invited Parliament's Canadian Heritage Committee to hold hearings in Mississauga on the subject of Islamophobia. This would be a good step in the right direction in terms of educating ourselves, whether residents are Muslim or not, on what people believe the term means.

Finally, for those of you who think this added police protection for this Mississauga MP is nothing but overhyped political posturing, consider the case of ex-British MP Jo Cox. Cox was elected to the British Parliament in 2015, and was a strong advocate for the plight of Syrian refugees. Cox was shot and stabbed to death on June 2016 by a man affiliated with far right organizations in Europe. There was also former US Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who in 2011 almost lost her life to a deranged gunman’s bullet while having a constituency event.

So if you think a Member of Parliament or any politician can’t be physically harmed right here in little ol' Mississauga, Canada, think again. Democratic political discourse should never be incited by or lead to violence.

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