Muslims Express Disappointment Regarding Canadian Government's Vote Against Combating Islamophobia

April 20, 2005

It is with great disappointment and frustration to hear that Canada has voted against an important United Nations resolution which seeks to protect the rights of Muslims and stem the tide of Islamophobia in the world.

On April 12th The United Nations Commission on Human Rights adopted a resolution calling for combating defamation campaigns against Islam and Muslims in the West.

The resolution, which was originally put forward on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC), was voted for by 31 countries and 16 against, with five abstentions and one delegation absent. The Commission expressed deep concerns regarding negative stereotyping of religions and manifestations of intolerance and discrimination in matters of religion or belief still in evidence in some regions of the world. The resolution in particular expressed concerns regarding "the intensification of the campaign of defamation of religions, and the ethnic and religious profiling of Muslim minorities, in the aftermath of the tragic events of 11 September 2001; expressed deep concern that Islam was frequently and wrongly associated with human rights violations and terrorism." The Commission also requested the Special UN Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance "to continue to present a report on the situation of Muslims and Arab peoples in various parts of the world and the discrimination faced by them."

Canada's NO vote is a sad testimony on the Government of Canada. The Canadian Government must make a firm commitment to combat all forms of racism and intolerance. By voting against this important resolution the Canadian Government is giving the impression that it actually supports or condones racism and intolerance against Islam and Muslims. What is even more disconcerting is that Canada actually invited other States to vote against the resolution

As Muslim Canadians we feel this to be both abhorrent and intolerable and we call on the Canadian Government to reverse its decision and take a strong position against Islamophobia and all forms of racist intolerance.

Furthermore, we call on Members of Parliament to introduce this issue onto the floor of the House of Commons during Question Period so that the Government can provide a full public accountability regarding its position on this issue.

It is our position that racism and all forms of intolerance must not only be condemned, but should be enshrined within Canada's Criminal Code and violations should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Doing so would send out a strong public signal that racism- and Islamophobia in particular- has no place in this country.

Canada's latest vote at the UN has sent out a very negative message.