Conspiracy theorists say the darndest things.
Like that a motion asking the government to study an approach to quell systematic racism will bring about Sharia law.
Over the years we have heard that Sharia law is imminent in Western countries for many, many reasons. The most recent is focused upon motion M-103 brought forward by Liberal MP Iqra Khalid entitled Systemic racism and religious discrimination. The motion will be debated on in parliament on February 15.
This motion terrifies some people.
The theories, as they often do, prey on the immense fear many have of creeping Sharia—religious laws derived from Islamic faith. The thought process' imply, either implicitly or explicitly, that it will create a Sharia inspired blasphemy law and the beginnings of a Sharia compliant Canada.
The most popular of the theories was put forward by Leslie Stoffel, a journalist writing for conspiracy theorist Pamela Geller, who published an article titled "Canadian PM, Justin Trudeau, Smears all Canadians with Islamophobia Lie to Create a Sharia State."
The article is full of confused ramblings and unfounded claims. But poor writing and bad ideas won't stop people from reading anymore and the article was shared thousands of times and the underlying ideas spread like wildfire across the Facebook accounts of the family members you avoid.
"The Prime Minister of Canada will be holding a vote on February 16, 2017, Motion M103, that if passed, will enact Islamic Blasphemy Laws in Canada creating a defacto Sharia compliant state on the Northern border of the United States," reads the article.
Others, like the Daily Caller, say "the motion demands that Islamophobia be treated as a crime without even bothering to define the offense." Which is a completely false and purposely misleading reading of the motion. Ryan Saavedra, writing for the Gateway Pundit, calls Khalida "radical muslim immigrant" in the headline of his article. The Rebel Media—Canada's reigning dog-whistle champions—got in on the fun as well, starting a petition against the motion and publishing two videos, both rife with fear-mongering, on how it will quell freedom of speech and mentions Sharia several times
"Your constitutional right to free speech is at risk and Canadian law is about to become Sharia compliant," says one of Rebel activists in the video attached to the petition.
The list goes on and on. So, what does this terrifying, terrifying motion that people have spent so many words on actually say?
In reality, the motion (which you can read in full here), asks for the government to recognize the "need to quell the increasing public climate of hate and fear," and "condemn Islamophobia and all forms of systemic racism and religious discrimination." Those two points are merely symbolic grandstanding, the real meat of the motion is the third point.
Here the motion asks the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage to conduct a study into a possible "whole-of-government approach to approach to reducing or eliminating systemic racism and religious discrimination including Islamophobia" and to "collect data to contextualize hate crime reports and to conduct needs assessments for impacted communities."
The motion was born from a petition, signed by more than 70,000 people, initiated by Samer Majzoub and sponsored by Quebec MP Frank Baylis. The petition asks for the government "call upon the House of Commons to join us in recognizing that extremist individuals do not represent the religion of Islam, and in condemning all forms of Islamophobia."
It seems to be the facts that M-103 was brought forward by a Pakistan-born Muslim MP, the petition that inspired it was started by a Muslim and that it name checks Islamophobia several times that set the theorists off because they mention it every third sentence.
Furthermore, the majority of the conspiracy theorists don't seem to understand simple things about the Canadian parliamentary system—like the difference between a motion and a bill.
"Their anti-Islamophobia motion (which will, in all likelihood, be voted on during this parliamentary session) resembles a kind of blasphemy law in favour of one preferred religion above all others," reads the Rebel petition. "If this motion passes, Canadians can be persecuted for expressing any criticism of Islam, even when warranted."
This statement is completely wrong and really rather dumb.
Motions are not intended not to change the law. If accepted, and it most likely will be, M-103 can not bring about anything but a study.
As a dear colleague and former political scientist told me, "you would have to be a fucking idiot to think this is the beginning of a blasphemy law."
So, by all means criticize ideas and use your freedom of speech (creeping Sharia isn't coming for it) but, for god's sake, stop being so goddamn stupid.
Lead photo of Iqra Khalid via Facebook
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