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Muslims Not To Be Trusted?

The Committee of Progressive Pakistani Canadians (CPPC) is alarmed at the findings of a survey commissioned jointly by the Association for Canadian Studies, Montreal, and the Race Relations Foundation, Toronto. The results of the poll reported by the media, including The Ottawa Citizen and The Vancouver Sun on March 21, 2012 disclose that “more than half of Canadians mistrust Muslims,” and another large proportion of them believe that discrimination against Muslims is “their own fault.”

There is no doubt that these findings represent what sociologists call stereotypes which are defined as  distorted pictures in mind, not based on correct and verifiable information. Yet it is disturbing to note that so many Canadians (52 % according to the survey) hold negative views of Muslims which can generate hatred and even violence against a minority group identified on the basis of religion. Needless to say that such negative stereotypes also pose a serious threat to Canada’s long standing policy of multiculturalism aimed at promoting national unity and social harmony.

Stereotypes are known to be social constructions that serve the interests of those who create and promote them. As such it is important to know why a particular stereotype was created, by whom and for what purpose?

Muslims in North America have been increasingly subjected to such negative stereotyping since 9/11 when the powerful US administration decided to wage its ill-conceived global war on terror. This global war was launched with President George W. Bush declaring famously that “you’re either with us or against us,” thus pre-empting any rational assessment of its objectives and consequences. Today, a decade later and untold thousands of lives lost, mostly those of men, women and children in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan who had nothing to do with 9/11, the war has produced little by way of peace or security but a lot of angry and frustrated individuals.

The most recent example of this anger and frustration is represented by the actions of Frenchman of Algerian origin, Mohamed Merah who is reported to have shot dead a teacher and two students in a French school along with a few soldiers of his own ethnic background, and the American Army Staff Sgt., Robert Bales, who went on a killing rampage earlier on March 11, shooting to death 17 Afghan farmers including several children.

What is obviously common in the brutal actions of the duo is the malaise of post-9/11 times poisoned deeply by the war on terror. Yet one is astounded by the portrayal of the stories of Roberts and Mohameds of our blighted times in the form of two very different narratives by the world-dominant Western media. Whereas Robert Bale’s killing spree is invariably attributed to his possible suffering from PSTD (Post-traumatic stress disorder) with no reference to his religion or that of his victims, there is rarely a report that fails to identify the religion of Mohamed Merah and four of his Jewish victims. This is stereotyping at its meticulous best aimed at making sure that the connection between the villainous act of Merah and his religion is not lost on anyone.

We at the CPPC believe that the best way to promote peace and harmony in Canada’s multi-ethnic society and to prevent social phobias, including Islamophobia is to abstain from making stereotypical invidious distinctions between people on the basis of religion, colour, class and gender no mater in what situations they are caught.

The Committee of Progressive Pakistani-Canadians (the CPPC) is a non-profit organization of the Canadians of Pakistani origin who are committed to the values and ideals of socialist democracy, pluralism, and peace.

Faiz as a Trade Unionist

Rauf Malik, Surkh Parcham,, March/April, 2011 issue.
Translated from Urdu by Prof. Hassan N. Gardezi

This year Faiz would have been 100 years old were he still alive. Much is being written regarding his literary skills, poetic genius and social thoughts on this centenary of his birth, and more will be written in the future. But this writer is neither a literary critic nor a social analyst to comment on the beauty and value of Faiz’s literary and other enlightening works.

In these lines there will be an account of some aspects of Faiz’s life which have generally remained out of sight. In addition to being a great poet and intellectual Faiz was a member of our society who, not only was keenly aware of the living conditions of various layers and classes, he was also involved in frequent struggles to improve these conditions as an activist. Continue reading

Pakistan Left Parties – Statement on Terror‏

Pakistan Left parties will organize demonstration at Charing Cross Mall Road in Lahore on 10th April at 4:00 p.m. This is solidarity with the demonstrations on the same day in US and other countries to condemn the ongoing war on terror. Below is the joint statement:

Pakistan Left parties statement on 10 years of “War On Terror” Continue reading

Letter to the Toronto Star re: Libya

The world has wisely intervened in Libya to stop a tyrant from killing his own people” wrote Haroon Siddiqui in his op-ed piece in the Star on March 24.

That the governments of half-a-dozen or so powerful western countries – who all have contributed to massive killings directly and indirectly – have bullied the UN Security Council (10 yes votes, 5 abstentions) into passing a resolution authorizing military action against Libya, does not mean ‘the world’ is supportive of this action.

Quite to the contrary, world public opinion – in China and India, Brazil and Russia, Indonesia and Pakistan, in Latin American and Africa, in the Arab countries and even in western Europe – is opposed to these actions. Continue reading

The ‘Blasphemy Law’ and the politics of violence and intolerance in Pakistan

The ‘Blasphemy Law’ and the politics of violence and intolerance in Pakistan

Speaker: Hina Jilani

One of the most prominent lawyers, social activists and defenders of human
rights in Pakistan, Ms. Jilani served as the Special Representative of the
UN Secretary-General on Human Rights Defenders from 2000 – 2008.

She will speak on the origins of the Blasphemy Law – the use of which has
caused the death of several thousand non-Muslims but mainly of Muslims –
over the past twenty-five years in the context of violence in the name of
religion against democratic and secular minded people, and minorities and women.

6.30 p.m. Tuesday, March 15
55 Gould Street, Room SCC 115, Student Centre, Ryerson University
(Just north of Dundas street subway station; a block and a half east of
Yonge near Church)

Organized by: Committee of Progressive Pakistani-Canadians, Family of the
Heart, Forum for Democracy In Pakistan (FDP), Pakistan Development Fund,
Pakhtoon Peace Forum, South Asian People’s Forum.

For Further Information: Omar Latif 416-536-6771

Bhagat Singh Martyrdom Anniversary

Hello All,

Every year the Indo-Canadian Workers Association marks the anniversary of Bhagat Singh’s martyrdom at the hands of the British (on March 23, 1931).

This year’s commemoration will be held on Sunday, March 27 at 2 p.m. at the Lester B. Pearson Theatre, 150 Central Park Drive, Brampton. The poster is attached for further details.

I hope many of us Pakistani-Canadians will be able to attend to pay our respect to this great hero of the Indian anti-colonial struggle, and to show our solidarity with our Indo-Canadian brothers and sisters (mainly from the Punjab).

Omar

Bhagat Singh Martyrdom Anniversary

Hello All,

Every year the Indo-Canadian Workers Association marks the anniversary of Bhagat Singh’s martyrdom at the hands of the British (on March 23, 1931).

This year’s commemoration will be held on Sunday, March 27 at 2 p.m. at the Lester B. Pearson Theatre, 150 Central Park Drive, Brampton. The poster is attached for further details.

I hope many of us Pakistani-Canadians will be able to attend to pay our respect to this great hero of the Indian anti-colonial struggle, and to show our solidarity with our Indo-Canadian brothers and sisters (mainly from the Punjab).

Omar

Notes from Omar Latif on behalf of CPPC (Hina Jilani event)

The immediate impetus for today’s event came from the murder of the Minister for Minority Affairs and prominent Pakistani Christian, Shahbaz Bhatti. We wish to pay condolences to his family, and to that of the Governor of the Punjab Salman Taseer, and the many others who have become victims of religious terrorism – specially that linked to the Blasphemy Law.

Before we turn to our program, a couple of notes: First, our heartfelt sympathies go to the people of Japan who are suffering grievously from last week’s earthquake and tsunami, and now risk radiation.

Secondly, we extend our support to the people of Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Yemen etc. who seek national independence, genuine democracy, equality for all, the use of natural resources for people’s needs and a socially just economic order. Continue reading