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Ala Buzreba vs. William Moughrabi: Conservative party let racists do the anti-terror dirty work
Overt bigotry is primarily a problem on the right, and our politicians need to address this.
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Conservative pundits argue Canada’s moderate Muslims must collectively — via Sharia plebiscite, one assumes — denounce jihad, and that they haven’t done enough to condemn radicals.
My name and ethnicity being what they are, these sorts of people share this sentiment with me in online conservations or, more awkwardly, at cocktail parties.
While I usually argue the majority of Canadian Muslims, Arabs, Persians, etc., do in fact denounce jihad — and that more of them have been terrorized than the “infidels” — we generally agree: More can be done.
But now that’s out of the way, let’s talk about conservatives’ racism problem.
Lurk around the Conservative Party’s Facebook page and you spot “top comments” about Sharia law on the party’s affordable housing efforts. It’s clearer still in the comments of sites like the Rebel Media, if you dare look.
But few things are clearer than a case study from the last two weeks: Two candidates, Ala Buzreba of Calgary and William Moughrabi of Montreal, both had their social media pasts return to haunt them.
Both are millennials and both Arab. Both made violent comments more than a year ago that played into Middle Eastern stereotypes — appearing either anti-Semitic, misogynist or unhinged.
The difference: One was a hijab-wearing Liberal Party candidate, who’s since apologized and resigned; the other, a male Conservative Party candidate who’s since apologized but won’t resign.
Naturally, when these bozo eruptions are unearthed, they’re used by their respective bases to call for resignation. But the leftist outrage at Moughrabi was tame, focusing more on the double-standard of the party calling for its opponents’ resignations following identical mistakes, but not its own.
Now here’s a Twitter sampling from Buzreba’s detractors:
“Have you joined ISIS yet?”
“Such a cute little terrorist…”
Even before her scandal, Pakistani pundit Tarek Fatah — a defected NDP candidate who’s been co-opted by the right, and who was best described on Twitter by a Muslim he slut-shamed as “a victim of internalized racism” — had attacked Buzreba and Justin Trudeau for being soft on ISIS. His evidence? A photo of her with other hijab-wearing supporters (after cropping out one with exposed hair).
Another blogger spread pornographic, photoshopped photos of her being penetrated by Trudeau.
Much of this has to do with Buzreba’s gender. Her headscarf and first name also make her ethnicity more prominent. But the difference is mostly because of something everyone already knows: The right wing provides more comfortable seating for seething racists.
(To those who argue Islam is a religion, not an ethnicity: Islamophobia in Canada disproportionately affects brown people. Let’s not pretend.)
Islamophobia isn’t exclusively a Conservative problem; some Liberal and NDP-voting atheists will, in a defence of rationalism, cross over into bigotry.
But overt bigotry is primarily a problem on the right. The leaders and politicians on that side of the spectrum must confront it. Instead, they’re letting it do their dirty work to support anti-terror bills and crucify their opponents.
Omar Mouallem (@omar_aok) is based in Edmonton and edits the Yards magazine.