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Mobilizing Canadian Muslims: A Call for Proactive Action in Palestinian Liberation


May Allah bless you and accept all of our good deeds in this blessed month of Ramadhan. Today, as we reflect on our current situation as Muslims in Canada, particularly in the context of the ongoing genocide in Gaza, there are profound lessons to be learned. Despite mobilization efforts and some successes, such as civil liberty victories, Canadian Muslims have failed to create the necessary capacity to stop the relentless slaughter of Palestinians. We cannot applaud ourselves for failing to stop the genocide. In particular, the situation we find ourselves in as Canadian Muslims demands frank assessment of past actions, accountability, and a concerted call to action. 

Responsibility and Accountability

Let us not mince words: as Canadian Muslims, we bear direct responsibility as taxpayers, for funding, supporting, and enabling the genocide against our brothers and sisters in Gaza. This is a difficult truth to confront, but it is a reality that we must acknowledge.  Despite our efforts and good intentions, we have not created the capacity to halt the slaughter and bloodshed that continues unabated.  

A Frank Assessment of Failures

It is imperative that we conduct a frank assessment of our failures, shortcomings, and missed opportunities. Whatever progress we may have made, we have not created the capacity to effectively intervene and stop the genocide unfolding in Palestine. This sobering reality demands that we look inward and ask ourselves tough questions about our actions and inactions.

Learning from Past Mistakes

We must learn from our past mistakes, particularly the ineffective strategies that have failed us. Blindly supporting political parties and placing undue faith in individual representatives as saviors have not served our interests. It is time to break free from these flawed approaches and chart a new course forward.

Addressing Spiritual Obstacles

In addition to external challenges, we must confront spiritual obstacles within our community. Comfort and a reluctance to sacrifice, a misunderstanding of the role of religion in politics, and defeatist attitudes have hampered our progress. We must unite, take decisive action, and maintain faith in the face of adversity. 

Building Capacity and Autonomy through Political means

The recent events in Gaza have underscored the urgent need for Canadian Muslims to build political power and autonomy. We must proactively work towards our collective interests and the liberation of Palestine. This necessitates engaging in political processes, organizing within our communities, and advocating for meaningful change.

Attempting to make demands without leverage has proven ineffective. Muslims have thrown their support behind various parties, yet none have truly served our interests. We have not shown the ability to electorally punish a specific individual or party, so why would they change their actions if they believe they have our support?

It might seem convenient to find one person who aligns with all our issues and blindly vote for them, expecting them to solve everything. However, this is not the reality of politics. No individual will perfectly represent every aspect of our diverse interests and beliefs.

We must be cautious of falling into the trap of identity politics. Just because someone shares our name or looks like us does not automatically mean they represent our interests. Many have claimed to support us but have ultimately failed to deliver tangible results. Actions speak louder than words, and we must be discerning in our support for individuals and parties.

Rejecting Defeatism

The defeatist attitude that has permeated our community must be overcome. Voting for the "lesser of two evils" has not worked and will not work and has proven not to be a viable strategy. We must reject this mentality and actively seek candidates and parties that truly represent our values, interests and principles. If we choose to support someone simply because they are the lesser evil, we must begin working immediately after their election. We need to change the options available in the next election cycle so that we have better choices. Power is not just access; it is the collective ability to act together. It's about many people uniting to achieve a common goal simultaneously. Compromising on justice and dignity is not an option.

Empowering Through Political Engagement

Many argue that politics and religion should be kept separate, but where in Islam does it say these two things are distinct? Where does it say that the faith is confined to the four walls of the Masjid? Politics and religion are not separate entities; they are intertwined. This is precisely what we aimed to challenge through hosting candidate debates in federal and provincial elections, district by district, to empower Muslim voters in Masjids. We need to move away from the "trust us" mentality often heard from the pulpit and realize that the solutions to our problems are not solely in the hands of politicians but within ourselves. We must actively participate in political decision-making processes, attend candidate debates, and cast informed votes. Empowering Muslim voters is crucial for effecting positive change.

Disengaging from Complicit Politicians

Politicians who enabled the genocide in Palestine should not receive our support. We cannot, in good conscience, associate with those who have sided with oppressors and perpetrators of violence against our brethren. It is time to disengage from complicit individuals and hold them accountable. As tempting the pakoras and samosas are during iftar, we cannot break bread with those who have sided with oppressors and perpetrators of violence against our brothers and sisters. 

Lessons from Recent Political Movements

The motion from the federal New Democrats initially calling for Canada to recognize the State of Palestine passed after the Liberals altered its wording to aim for a two-state solution. Three Liberal MPs, Anthony Housefather, Marco Mendicino, and Ben Carr, voted against the motion, as did Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre and his caucus. Shimon Koffler Fogel of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs noted the removal of the clause for unilateral recognition. Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME) urged MPs to vote yes on the initial motion, calling it a historic test. However, CJPME's Michael Bueckert found the final vote fell short of expectations, feeling the motion was watered down and weakened. The original motion, introduced by NDP MP Heather McPherson, aimed to officially recognize the State of Palestine. Muslim MPs ultimately agreed to the watered-down motion, conceding to recognize Palestine as a state. This process shed light on the dynamics within the community and the need for more effective advocacy. Ultimately the motion exposed the realities of our political landscape. We must hold elected officials accountable and not settle for compromises that do not serve our interests.

Moving Forward with Resolve

The path forward requires unity, determination, and a rejection of complacency. We cannot afford to be passive observers in the face of injustice. Palestinian rights are non-negotiable and denying them statehood is an affront to our conscience.

We must build our capacity to act collectively, mobilizing for justice and equality. The solutions to our problems do not lie solely in the hands of politicians; they lie within ourselves. Real power lies in our ability to act together. 

While our mobilization has brought some victories, much more needs to be done to achieve a full independent state of Palestine. It is time to disenfranchise ourselves from politicians who have enabled genocide. Even if it means sacrificing familiar comforts, such as pakoras and samosas, we must take this step as a community.

Imagine sitting at a table, breaking bread with individuals who have openly supported the slaughter of our mothers, daughters, sisters, brothers, fathers, and children. It is a thought that should send shivers down our spines and compel us to action.

The ongoing tragedy in Gaza has shaken the global Muslim community to its core. We cannot afford to be passive observers in the face of injustice. Palestinian rights are not negotiable and denying them statehood is a grave injustice. As we witness the horrors of the genocide unfolding before our eyes, it is imperative that we, as Canadian Muslims, take a stand.

Let us mobilize, empower ourselves, and demand accountability from those in power and those who claim to represent us and speak for us. Our voices matter, and together, we can be a force for change. We cannot remain silent or passive in the face of such injustice. The time for action is now.