EDITORIAL: Islam in Canada – where do you stand?

Where do you stand?
Unfamiliarity, insufficient or inadequate knowledge and outright ignorance are problems in Canadian society in general today but even more so in regard to Muslims and Islam. From this position of poor information it is a small step to fear, apprehension and misconception about this Canadian community. Falling into the Islamophobia is far too easy given the media’s dog whistle headlining of fear and hate. Though the media executives may defend the headlines and news page topics they use and choose, they really should be criticized for ‘stirring up the pot of public alienation’ to garner readers/viewers. As an example of this Islamophobic sensationalizing, search “terrorist” on the Toronto Sun to be shocked at how frequently the adjective is associated with violence relating to news stories. Inevitably, terrorist:violence:Islam/Moslem become synonymous.

It is not the public’s role to find a more neutral way of reporting the news but it is incumbent on the media to do so. They are responsible for reporting the news, accurately and constructively. Repeated use of ‘hot’ words such as terrorist and violence should not be mistakenly labeled as accurate and constructive reporting. The frequent association of terrorism and violence with Moslem/Islam related stories is destructive reporting, if it isn’t outright hate mongering.

As populism and right wing politics surge along the path of deceit and misconception, it is the role of the media to protect democracy and the freedoms of society. Sensationalist reporting is not responsible reporting. It titillates, teases and tempts readers and viewers the way gossip does its audiences. But like gossip, it is socially destructive victimizing the subject of its story. If we do rise above such vile journalism, we will not only sink into a black hole of negativism and social denigration but our democratic rights and freedoms will be eroded, and eventually lost.

Speak out against hate mongering, criticize it, question it and condemn it. Write to your newspaper; send an email to your TV station; discuss social negativism at the dinner table with your family. Just saying ‘Canada is the greatest country in the world” is not enough. We must defend it and safeguard it to ensure it remains so.

Act! React! Become indignant and dig in into the defensive trenches fighting to save what we still have. The war we should fight is not one against other people but one for truth, rights, freedom and a way of life. Stand up and fight.

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