Islamophobia? Not a problem in Quebec,
New Zealand or Australia?
Before the hate crimes at Quebec City and Christchurch mosques, the parallels between Quebec and New Zealand focused on being colonial lands. An indigenous population was oppressed in each place, to the benefit of white colonists. Queen Elizabeth reigns over both populations.
Immigrants view both New Zealand and Canada as peaceful destinations to build a future, although New Zealand’s Aboriginals have a shared ancestry with today’s migrants, the Taiwanese, which differs from most immigrants to Canada with no shared pre-colonial genetics. However, New Zealand takes in such few immigrants, the point of comparison is negligible.
The gunman is actually from Australia, a country with some of the world’s most notorious immigrant detention centres, including two on Nauru. This South Pacific Island was used by Australians to dump migrants, and then abandoned in 2017 as it cut off electricity and food services. All children were removed, though, as the shut-down took effect. The countries of origin are Iraq, Syria, Somalia, Sudan, Afghanistan, so the picture is pretty clear about what these refugees have been through to bring them to this hellhole, run for a country that produced such a killer as the world met last week.
Islamophobia in Australia and New Zealand, like in Quebec, is discussed in public as undesirable to the society, if not inexistant. In Quebec, Premier François Legault told Quebecers just this winter that Islamophobia is not a problem in the province, and this, on the second anniversary of the Quebec City Mosque shooting. A Gatineau City Councillor backed up the premier scoffing at the need for action against Islamophobia. She’s a Federal Conservative Party hopeful, pulling the problem wider to the rest of the country and positioning the argument on the local political spectrum.
With Quebec, New Zealand and Australian social conversations so focused on the “we don’t have a problem” argument, a total loss of confidence has set in. At the Aylmer Mosque, March 17, at sundown, members of the Aylmer Mosque Association pled with the non-muslims gathered in solidarity to spread the word of peace to everyone they know. The speech is on Page 6, and contains two important messages. One, that according to Islam, killing one innocent person is an act that kills something in each of us. This kernel of philosophy explains the pain felt by so many. Another part of the message that is key relates to the individual and collective responsibility we each hold in ensuring collective peace.
Clearly the teaching of respect comes from home, and this is why it was asked of those gathered at the Aylmer mosque, as an individual task. But it wasn’t requested only in terms of Isalmophobia or Xenophobia. The request to all for respectful living relates to how colonialized countries relate to the First Nations in this time of so-called Post-Colonialism. It relates to how families raise boys and girls in New Zealand, Australia and Canada, and to how these countries can no longer allow for hateful politics that end up damaging everyone each time one person is hurt.