Right-wing sites falsely report that Canada is about to make it illegal to criticize Islam
Islam is an easy target for right-wing fake news sites.
Liberal Canadian Parliament Member Iqra Khalid introduced a motion, M-103, to condemn Islamophobia, and to have the House of Commons analyze and create solutions to rising anti-Muslim hatred in the nation. But, according to BuzzFeed News, right-wing sites are curating fake reports of the motion, claiming that Canada will make it illegal to criticize Islam.
The motion comes on the heels of the mass shooting in Quebec City where white nationalist Alexandre Bissonnette opened fire at a mosque during evening prayers killing six men. In response to the terrorist attack, over 70,000 Canadians signed a petition to call on the House of Commons to combat the "notable rise of anti-Muslim sentiment in Canada."
Despite the alarming concern of rampant Islamophobia in Canada, the motion was tabled. Nevertheless, anti-Islam and self-described free speech activists have capitalized on the fear of Muslims to spread false rumors about the motion.
Canadian conservative site The Rebel, for example, compared the motion to "blasphemy laws" in some repressive theocratic countries. "Canada is on the verge of passing what amounts to Islamic blasphemy laws," the post read. "If this motion passes, Canadians can be persecuted for expressing any criticism of Islam, even when warranted."
On JihadWatch, American anti-Islam activist Robert Spencer's blog, similar narratives claimed M-103 would put Canada under sharia law.
"Now this 'Islamophobia' motion is inching toward law in Canada, the very real first step toward subjugating Canada under the sharia and a kind of blasphemy law: anyone who articulates the truth about Islam faces legal Sharia penalties, a grave precedent with serious implications for Canada and the West," the blog post read.
Sharia law is a methodology derived from interpretations of the Quran and the sayings of Prophet Muhammad that Muslims abide in their daily lives. Contrary to public opinion, sharia law is not a set code of laws, but rather a set of religious principles Muslims look to for marriage, finance, health, dietary restrictions etc.
Pamela Geller, another prominent U.S. anti-Muslim activist, wrote a blog post with the same trope: Canada is creating a "sharia state." Geller suggested that Trump should close the border or build a wall between the United States and Canada.
"To keep his country safe from [Justin] Trudeau's sharia state, President Trump could very well decide to close the border, build a wall among a myriad of other scenario," the post read.
Khalid is a bit surprised at the dramatic reaction and the amount of fake reports in response to her motion. She laughed off the reports that said she is attempting to infiltrate sharia law into Canada's government.
"I would be the first person to oppose a bill or a motion that challenges our multicultural and secular society," Khalid told BuzzFeed News. "It's quite the opposite. It's about finding peaceful ways that we can live together."
The motion, which the House of Commons is set to debate on Feb. 15, hits close to home for Khalid, who is a young Canadian Muslim woman. For Khalid, the motion is in response to the acts of Islamophobia that have been all too familiar for the Canadian Muslim community.
"When I moved to Canada in the 1990s, a young girl trying to make this nation my home, some kids in school would yell as they pushed me, 'Go home, you Muslim' — but I was home," Khalid said. "I am among thousands of Muslims who have been victimized because of hate and fear."