UN special group comes to Toronto to explore anti-black racism
A special United Nations working group is in Toronto this week to study issues of racism against black people — and lots of people have plenty to say.
From lack of access to employment, justice and healthcare to the controversial issue of carding and deteriorating relationships with police, members of the city’s black community aren’t holding back about what needs to be fixed.
“What we have seen is a persistent experience of marginalization and systemic discrimination,” said Ndija Anderson, a research lawyer with the African Canadian Legal Clinic.
The Toronto-based firm, which provides legal support and representation to African Canadians in race-based cases, is one of the groups hosting talks with the five-member UN group.
The group will also travel to Ottawa, Halifax, Montreal and other cities, talking with politicians, community organizations and activists. Recommendations born from what they hear will be presented to the federal government and the UN.
The mission comes at a time when discussions about discrimination against black people have reached a high in Canada and the United States, with Black Lives Matter movements accusing police of excessive force.
The deadly racism of the ‘anti-racist’ liberal imperialist
When it comes to hypocrisy, the pro-war Western ‘liberal’ is in a class of his own. While professing opposition to racism, the pro-war liberal is cheerleader for the most dangerous and deadly forms of racism in the world today – contemporary US/Western imperialism.
A racism that is scarcely reported, but which has laid waste to entire countries and killed millions – and which now threatens to drag us into potentially catastrophic military confrontation with Russia.
We can see this abhorrent racism on display again in the current debates in elite circles in the West over Syria. It’s taken as a given that ‘We’ i.e., the US and its allies, have a right to declare who is or is not the legitimate government of Syria. We can demand ‘Assad must go’ but of course no Syrian government official can demand one of OUR leaders must go. The very thought of it!
We have the right to impose ‘No Fly Zones’ which of course won’t apply to OUR aircraft – only to THEIRS. We have the right to bomb or illegally invade countries at any time we want to – for whatever fictitious reasons – but if the people of the targeted country dare to fight back, we’ll call them “genocidal” and accuse their leader (and his allies) of war crimes and push for them to be sent to The Hague. Our leaders meanwhile can break international law and kill hundreds of thousands with total impunity.
If you doubt the inherent racism of the current world order, and think I’m overstating the case; then consider what’s been going on at the International Criminal Court (ICC). During its 14 years of existence the only people indicted and tried by the ICC have been Africans.
New hijab discrimination case hits Norway
A 21-year-old woman was offered a job as a nursing assistant in the Ullern district of Oslo, but only if she would work without her hijab.
The woman, who wishes to remain anonymous, applied for the in-home care position in January, but the person who would receive her help did not want an assistant who wore a hijab.
Oslo Municipality agreed to honour the person’s wishes and a municipal employee sent the 21-year-old woman a text message offering her the job on the condition that she would remove her headscarf, NRK reported.
Although the incident occurred in January, the woman only shared her story with the broadcaster this week and provided a screenshot of the conversation.
“Hi, I have spoken with [name redacted] and he said that if you are comfortable with working without the hijab then you can have the job with him. Is that something that could be relevant for you?” a municipal employee wrote.
“I must unfortunately decline. It’s [the hijab, ed.] is a big part of my and I can not give it up,” the 21-year-old woman wrote back.
Strong reactions in Norway to hijab discrimination verdict
The 10,000 kroner fine given to a Norwegian hairdresser for turning away a Muslim client wearing a headscarf has led to varied reactions in the Nordic country.
The Jæren District Court ruled on Monday that Merete Hodne, a hairdresser in the small southwestern Norwegian town of Byrne, “deliberately discriminated” against Malika Bayan when she denied her service last year.
The 47-year-old hairdresser intends to appeal the decision, which has generated strong reactions in Norway.
The nation’s equality and anti-discrimination ombudsman called the verdict an important victory for religious freedom.
“The important thing is that you’ve got a decision and a conviction that states that it is not acceptable to refuse service to someone because of the person’s religion or believes. The verdict upholds the freedom of religion in Norway,” ombudsman Hanne Bjurstrøm told NTB.
Hodne had defended turning Bayan away by saying that she views the the headscarf as a political symbol representing an ideology that frightens her, rather than as a religious symbol. She said she “completely freaked out” when Bayan and her friend entered the hair salon wearing hijabs last October.
Discrimination happens here too: Hijabi woman barred from Beirut restaurant
Seven Sisters Beirut Saturday denied allegations that it had prevented a young couple from entering its premises because the woman was wearing a headscarf.
A man who claimed he was barred from entering the lounge bar with his veiled girlfriend Friday night earlier told The Daily Star that the bouncer at the door had informed them that the management would not “allow anyone with a hijab (headscarf)” to enter on that particular day.
7management, the owners of Seven Sisters, told The Daily Star in a statement that the lounge bar doesn’t ban veiled women from entering. However, they have a policy “to inform them (veiled women) that alcohol is served inside, therefore making sure they are not surprised or offended by the abundant alcohol consumption.”
It claimed that several veiled woman were present at the venue Friday night, noting that over 400 people were turned away because “several Football players were spending the evening there, which attracted a large crowd.”
“The person behind the polemic had arrived with a large group of people … they were denied access based on that fact alone,” it said.
London Hosting Anti-Racism Meeting
A community meeting on fighting systemic racism throughout Ontario will be held in London next month.
The meeting, scheduled for October 7, is one of nine being held by the Ontario government in various cities throughout the province between September and December. Each will be headed up by Michael Coteau, the Minister responsible for anti-racism.
Anti-black racism, as well as Islamophobia, anti-Indigenous racism, and racism experienced by other communities will be the focus of the meetings.
The province will use the information gathered to identify priority areas for its Anti-Racism Directorate to apply an anti-racism perspective to government policies, programs, and services. A complete report will be compiled and released to Ontarians after the last of the meetings are held.
The first gathering on the issue was held in Toronto on July 14.
“Through the July community meeting in Toronto, we heard loud and clear that systemic racism continues to create unfair outcomes for racialized communities across Ontario, which is exactly why our government is committed to addressing and tackling these barriers. I’m looking forward to hearing from more members of the public this fall,” says Coteau.
Ending anti-Muslim racism requires more than changing the language
Canada will stop using the term Islamic State and instead use Daesh, but eliminating anti-Muslim racism here requires much more than adopting a new lexicon.
The Canadian government’s recent announcement that it will no longer call Daesh the “Islamic State” has been celebrated as a bold stand against Islamophobia, and a notable departure from Stephen Harper’s fear-mongering about “Islamicism.”
“The group is neither Islamic nor a state, and so will be referred to as Daesh (its Arabic acronym),” Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale explained in this year’s edition of the Public Report on the Terrorist Threat to Canada — the first produced under the new Liberal government.
Names are important, and the misrepresentation of Islam as an inherently violent ideology is more deeply entrenched every time the name “Islamic State” is applied to an organization infamous for its atrocities. But anti-Muslim racism did not begin with the phrase “Islamic State,” and it will not end with the decision to use “Daesh” instead.
The ubiquitous references to the “Islamic State” are so pernicious only because of broader narratives persistently conflating Islam and terrorism. Otherwise, there would be little need for Goodale to clarify that a group comprising approximately 0.00006 per cent of the world’s Muslim population, and condemned by large groups of leading Muslim scholars, cannot reasonably be described as “Islamic.” (As most people would presumably appreciate, even without government instruction, that ex-president George Bush’s appeal to biblical prophecy to rationalize the disastrous war in Iraq does not define Christian orthodoxy.)
These broader narratives problematically equating “terrorism” with “violence committed by Muslims” are reinforced by the government’s 2016 assessment of the “terrorist threat,” which focuses entirely on perils posed by individuals and organizations ostensibly inspired by Islam.
Pakistani Minority Victimized in Name of Fighting Extremism.
CHANAB NAGAR, PAKISTAN — Her hands shook slightly — a sign of age — as she held her thin, long dupatta scarf in front of her face and turned slightly away. Years of covering her face in front of men had made her shy.
In her 53 years of marriage, this was the first time she was alone. Her 80-year-old spouse Abdul Shakoor had been convicted on charges of selling banned books and is serving a five-year jail term. The books, which Nayeema claims he removed from the shop after a government notice, were comprised of religious literature intended for their own sect.
Nayeema and Abdul Shakoor belong to Pakistan’s Ahmadiyya community, one of the most persecuted religious minorities in the country according to human rights activists.
Shakoor’s small shop, which sold books and spectacles, was in the main bazaar of Chanab Nagar, a town of 60,000 — 95 percent of them Ahmadiyyas. The town, in the heartland of Pakistan’s most populous Punjab province, is the de facto headquarters for the million or so Ahmadiyyas living across Pakistan.
Anti-Racism Network launched in the NC
Kimberley – South Africans need to take hands to fight for dignity, equality and freedom in the country. This is according to JC van der Merwe from the Institute for Reconciliation and Social Justice.
He was speaking to OFM News after the Northern Cape became the fifth province in which the Ahmed Kathrada and Nelson Mandela Foundations launched its Anti-Racism Network South Africa (ARNSA). This launch was done in Kimberley.
The aim of the network is to tackle racism and encourage South Africans to speak out against racial discrimination. Van der Merwe says racism and other forms of discrimination cannot be resolved by individuals and one organisation alone.
Catching the Wave: Students Address Racism Through Art
Ajanae Dawkins says she is nervous to return to school this fall after a year abroad. A senior studying communication arts and creative writing at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Dawkins watched online as reports of racially charged incidents emerged from her campus last spring.
In March 2016, a student pushed and spat on three students of color in the hallway of their dormitory. That same month a drawing of a stick figure hanging from a noose with a racial slur appeared on a campus bathroom wall. The following month, police entered a classroom to arrest a black student accused of spray-painting anti-racism messages on campus buildings, in a heavy-handed move that later prompted an apology by the university administration.
Students at UW-Madison—where African Americans make up less that 3 percent of the undergraduate student body—created the Twitter handle #TheRealUW to share their experiences with bias on campus. Dawkins and her fellow scholars in the First Wave Learning Community have found another way to push back.
First Wave is the nation’s only university-sponsored hip-hop and urban arts scholarship program. The program, which accepts between fourteen and sixteen students each fall, offers four-year full tuition scholarships to poets, writers, dancers, and rappers from across the country. Program participants are expected to produce and showcase their art throughout the school year and are granted access to a wide range of resources to help them do so.