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Why Steven Harper is the Real Threat to Canadian National Security

Prior to the unfortunate events on Parliament Hill, Canada had never been a country that was victim of a terrorist attack including September 11, 2001. Yet, the aftermath of September 11, 2001 resulted in the Global War on Terror campaign that included the involvement of Canadians in Afghanistan. Notwithstanding the fact that Canada was wise in its decision not to intervene in Iraq in 2003 due to the disastrous nature of the consequences in that country in particular- such as the rise of the Islamic State, Canada and particularly under the Harper government has been producing and advocating for anti-Muslim and anti- Arab policies of a war-mongering nature based on defacto statelessness imposed against them as citizens; targeting them as a particular culture, ethnicity and religion including the Middle East region as a whole. The unfortunate events that transpired on Parliament Hill which occurred after an initial incident that involved a hit and run against Canadian soldiers are a product of what this article will expose in terms of the Harper governments stances as mentioned above.

The silence and impotence of the Arab and Muslim community from the public, political and lobbying sphere in relation to these stances have betrayed those in the community who are feeling the particular potency of their marginalization and oppression as a result of the said stances that left them no other visible option but to become a self-fulfilling prophecy through these attacks while simultaneously betraying themselves and Canadian voters by allowing the Harper government to continue to unjustly win the hearts and minds of Canadians; clearly demonstrated with the new laws that the Harper government is in the process of passing in relation to excessive police and secret service powers[1]; thereby reinforcing the same stances that we should be putting an end to. The article will attempt to win the hearts and minds of Canadians to restore the reality of what is actually happening including the way forward. During the aftermath of the events on Parliament Hill, Prime Minister Stephen Harper gave a speech to the public over the recent events in Ottawa, where he stated the following:

We are also reminded that attacks on our security personnel and on our institutions of governments are by their very nature attacks on our country, on our value, on our society, on us Canadians as a free and democratic people who embrace human dignity for all.[2]

The problem has been and continues to be that human dignity is not applicable to Arabs and Muslims based on the historical and contemporary role that Canada has played in this respect. Notwithstanding the introduction of the Canada Anti-Terrorist Act, 2001 and its controversial essence due to the trampling on civil rights and liberties, there was a sunset clause to the provisions related to preventative detentions and investigative hearings that would expire in 5 years; an issue related to protection of civil rights and liberties in accordance with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms that the Harper government decided to ignore by introducing the Combating Terrorism Act to revive these expired provisions.[3]

Canadian Arabs and Muslims have been victims of discriminatory targeting, illegitimate racial profiling and subject to arbitrary arrest and torture. One case in point is Maher Arar, a Canadian citizen of Syrian decent, was arrested at the airport in the United States via what is known as extraordinary rendition. Mr. Arar was tortured by the Syrian government for a year and the Canadian government failed to protect him as a citizen of the country. In fact, the Harper government had been colluding with the United States over the issue including the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) as opposed to protecting their own citizen.[4] Setting aside that both the Harper government and the RCMP had publicly apologized and compensated Mr. Arar for the disturbing ordeal after a Commission of Inquiry was conducted, the RCMP officers who were involved on the case were given promotions.[5]

Second case in point is Omar Khadr, a 15 year old Canadian citizen of Pakistani descent, arrested and imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay- accused of killing an American in the battlefield in Afghanistan. Notwithstanding the fact that he was arrested, charged and imprisoned as a 15 year old child, he was the only Westerner that remained in the prison; facilitated by the Harper government in ensuring his inability for extradition and repatriation even against the urgings of the Canadian Bar Association[6], UNICEF and Amnesty International[7]. Furthermore, Canadian Senator and former United Nations Peace Keeper during the Rwanda Genocide- Romeo Dallaire, had been advocating for his release and treatment as a child soldier, protesting against his torture-retrieved testimony, and yet the Harper government did not intervene until recently where he is now serving the rest of his sentence; resulted from a torture-retrieved guilty plea in a Canadian prison.[8]

Canada’s involvement in Afghanistan in a combat role in a country that did not attack Canada nor did it have any group like the Taliban want to attack Canada has not only lost the most amount of soldiers per capita in comparison to their allies[9] but have also been involved in a prisoner scandal in relation to torturing and humiliating civilian prisoners similar to that of Abu Ghraib in Iraq by American soldiers.[10]

The Harper government has also banned Muslim women from wearing the burqa during citizenship ceremonies[11] as well as attempted to the same in relation to Islamic garb and voting rights of Muslim women successfully rebuffed by Elections Canada.[12] Setting aside that these issues are genuine Islamophobia and contradicts the provisions guaranteed within the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Harper government has allowed for the Jewish Defense League to operate legally in Canada when it is not only designated as a terrorist organization in the United States[13], Israel[14] and the European Union- but also denounced by the Anti-Defamation League for its disservice to the fight against Anti-Semitism.[15] The Jewish Defense League has made alliances with the British Nationalist Party which is a white supremacist organization and their alliance is based on one common target- the new anti-Semitism and racism against Arabs and Muslims.[16] One clear demonstration of this was the banning of British Member of Parliament George Galloway on “national security grounds” as a result of a letter sent to the Canadian government by the Jewish Defense League to have him banned as a result of his support for Palestinian rights.[17] This was a highly respected member of the Mother Parliament of Canada, banned against the decision of the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service[18] (CSIS) and rather influenced by an internationally designated terrorist organization.

This form of new Anti-Semitism and stance was further reinforced with the Harper government’s recent position on Operation Protective Edge and the disturbing silence and impunity to the evident war crimes committed by Israel and the seemingly desensitization of Palestinian suffering and absence of rights; leading to a legal case being filed against the Harper government for seemingly inciting and advocating hate propaganda against the Palestinians as per the Criminal Code of Canada.[19] Furthermore, the Harper government has criticized the international investigation probe which includes the involvement of a Canadian citizen on the legal team further reinforcing that Arabs and Muslims have no right to justice and the rule of law or the preservation of life and human dignity.[20]

Defacto Statelessness has recently been demonstrated even further with the Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act; the latest problematic and racist legislation introduced by the Harper government, creating first class and second class citizens as well as the right to revoke citizenship from those accused or suspected of terrorism. Setting aside the fact that the legislation was passed by the Harper government ignoring Amnesty International’s concerns over the legislation[21], it is precisely such draconian laws and policies that drive those who are marginalized and alienated as a result of the affects of these legislations to join groups like the Islamic State who feed off of this[22] or commit acts of terror- the result of a permanent state of humiliation through inferiorization and constant state of homelessness.[23] Both profiles of the those who committed the acts against the Canadian soldiers- one as the hit and run incident and one storming into Parliament demonstrate this in some shape or form, including the profiles of new cases surfacing.[24]

Given this information, any Canadian citizen with a “heart and mind” will not accept that their country subjects some of their citizens and people of another region to such acts of humiliation and degradation in the name of “peace, order and good governance” that will only have a backfiring affect. It is time that Canadian Arab and Muslims start demonstrating and engaging in the highest form of citizenry and political efficacy by creating and organizing a strong, united, grounded and articulate voice in the public and political sphere within the Canadian political arena, through lobby groups, social movements, grass roots organizations and even political parties to reach the hearts and minds of Canadians, starting with collective self-empowerment as a community.

Harper had stated a decade after the attacks of September 11, 2001 that “the biggest security threat to Canada is Islamic terrorism.”[25] Federal elections are due in Oct 2015 making it time for the Arab and Muslim community to win back the hearts and minds of Canadians; showing that the contrary is true- the Harper government’s stances mentioned above are and and have proven to be a threat to national security of Canadians both domestically and abroad. [1]

Ahmad Moussa is a Palestinian-Canadian writer and Visiting Professor at the University of Duhok, in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.

Notes.

[1] http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2014/10/23/ottawa-attack-mideast.html

[1] http://www.aljazeera.com/news/americas/2014/10/canadian-pm-pledges-tougher-laws-after-attack-20141023141454511201.html

[2] https://ca.news.yahoo.com/blogs/canada-politics/stephen-harper-says-canada-will-never-be-intimidated-003221049.html

[3] http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/ottawa-notebook/tories-disinclined-to-subject-anti-terror-measures-to-sunset-clause/article617345/

[4] http://www.ctvnews.ca/opposition-quotes-on-arar-from-november-2002-1.226338

[5] http://www.canada.com/story.html?id=20490e79-ee5b-4cc7-bdb9-46870e4cf3e0

[6] https://www.cba.org/cba/News/2009_Releases/2009-01-23.aspx

[7] http://www.amnesty.ca/our-work/issues/security-and-human-rights/omar-khadr

[8] http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/khadr-s-rehabilitation-undermined-by-tories-dallaire-says-1.1280898

[9] http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/canadian-forces-pay-higher-price-1.789464

[10] http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/canada-complicit-in-torture-of-innocent-afghans-diplomat-says/article1347481/

[11] http://www.aljazeera.com/news/americas/2011/12/201112135531620401.html

[12] http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/harper-slams-elections-canada-ruling-on-veils-1.648173

[13] http://www.fbi.gov/stats-services/publications/terror/terrorism-2000-2001/?searchterm=JDL

[14] http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/news/french-branch-of-jewish-terror-group-coming-to-israel-to-defend-settlements-1.384723

[15] http://archive.adl.org/extremism/jdl_chron.html

[16] http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2011/12/2011121391638252910.html

[17] http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2009/mar/20/george-galloway-banned-canada

[18] http://rabble.ca/news/2010/04/galloway-hearing-determine-mps-fate-under-ban-canada

[19] http://www.thetelegram.com/News/Regional/2014-07-22/article-3808617/Man-wants-prime-minister-charged-for-advocating-for-genocide/1

[20] http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/canadian-leading-gaza-war-crimes-probe-rejects-anti-israel-charges/article19996056/

[21] http://www.amnesty.ca/news/news-releases/new-citizenship-law-will-be-challenged-on-constitutional-grounds-if-passed-say

[22] http://news.nationalpost.com/2014/09/21/isis-urges-jihadists-to-attack-canadians-you-will-not-feel-secure-in-your-bedrooms/

[23] http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/tunisian-leader-wests-injustice-fuels-terror-recruits-982171342

[24] https://ca.news.yahoo.com/another-canadian-jihadi-slips-cracks-205929948.html?cmp=cafb_news

[25] http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/harper-says-islamicism-biggest-threat-to-canada-1.1048280

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Ahmad Moussa is a Palestinian-Canadian writer, scholar and international human rights activist. 

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