Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Door-to-Door Muslims: Only in Canada

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Door-to-Door Muslims: Only in Canada

Article excerpt

The day before President Donald Trump signed a softer, but equally problematic, sequel to the Muslim travel ban that outraged so many Americans a few weeks ago, thousands of young Canadian Muslims knocked on doors from Halifax to Vancouver as part of an awareness campaign called "Islam Understood."

While Canadians have a reputation for being among the most tolerant and least xenophobic people on the planet, even they aren't immune to the kind of soft and hard bigotry that constantly oozes up from their southern border.

A poll by Forum Research conducted across Canada in December unearthed what can only be described as an un-Canadian attitude. According to the poll, 4 in 10 Canadians said they had "unfavorable feelings" against identifiable racial groups. Muslims topped the list of groups that scared nearly half of Canadians.

On Jan. 29, a boyish-looking French-Canadian student walked into a mosque in Quebec and began shooting. The accused gunman, Alexandre Bissonnette, 27, was immediately charged with the murder of six worshippers and the attempted murder of five others.

A handgun and two assault rifles were recovered at the murder scene. Bissonnette gave no explanation for his rampage, but an examination of his social media haunts found support for far right and white nationalist politicians around the globe. He was a particularly ardent supporter of Marine Le Pen, who has a good shot at becoming France's president in elections this spring.

The mass shooting at the mosque was the first murder in Quebec City in 21 months. It was an act of brutality that shook most Canadians to the core. Even right-wing talk radio condemned it and toned down its anti-immigrant rhetoric in the days following the massacre. Canadians of all faiths and political beliefs raised funds to help those affected by the shootings. Canadians were eager to show the world that what happened in Quebec City was an aberration and violation of its ethic of religious tolerance.

Instead of waiting for the next iteration of Bissonnette to arrive on the scene with guns blazing, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association decided it was time to move proactively against the forces of paranoia and xenophobia conspiring to undermine peace in their society by painting Muslims as scary monsters worthy of slaughter as they prayed.

The Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association had already embarked on a campaign within Muslim communities to counter radicalization of young people by those seeking to foster a sense of alienation among Muslims with Canada. …

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