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Jewish Group: Canadian Islamophobia Bill Hurts Free Speech

(JTA) — Jewish leaders in Canada are debating a measure meant to prevent intolerance aimed at Muslims and other minorities.

Earlier this month, the head of B’nai Brith Canada outlined his objections to M-103, a parliamentary motion passed earlier this year that “condemns Islamophobia and all forms of systemic racism and religious discrimination.” The Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage held hearings on the measure this week.

Critics of the measure say it singles out Muslims for special treatment because it condemns only Islamophobia by name and does not explicitly mention other religious groups. Others have accused the motion of hampering free speech.

“Every Canadian Jew, along with every decent Canadian, recoils from the gruesome anti-Muslim crimes that we have seen in recent years, including the deadly January 2017 attack on a mosque in Quebec City,” B’nai Brith CEO Michael Mostyn wrote in the National Post. “Still, many members of our community remain wary of M-103 and its possible implications — and justifiably so.”

Mostyn wrote that “many anti-Jewish incidents have been the handiwork of Canadian Muslims, sometimes even claiming to act or speak in the name of Islam. In the past 12 months, no fewer than four Canadian mosques — two in Montreal, and one each in Toronto and Vancouver — have been exposed as sites of vile anti-Jewish hatred.”

Bernie Farber, former CEO of the Canadian Jewish Congress, expressed his support for the motion.

“As Canadian Jews we understand the need for memory,” he wrote in the Star. “With the legacy of Jewish suffering, it has become an article of faith to commemorate persecution. What we’re seeing here, sadly, is that when it comes to oppression of Canadian Muslims, there are too many attempts by too many Canadians to forget. M-103 is an attempt to resist this collective amnesia.”

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