July 25, 2021




In preparation for the National Summit on Islamophobia, the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) released a series of recommendations that were reported in the media.

As their report rightly states, Canadian Muslims are not a monolithic group. As Canadian citizens of Muslim culture or religion, we welcome all initiatives to combat hatred and intolerance and to foster social cohesion and understanding among citizens. However, not only do we not see any social cohesion in the NCCM’s recommendations, but we consider, on the contrary, that their report only exacerbates tensions and accentuates anti-Muslim feelings.

As numerous surveys have shown, it is not Islam but religious fundamentalism, and in particular religious accommodation, that arouses distrust among Canadian citizens. A 2017 survey, for example, found that “67 % of Quebecers and 61 % of Canadians believe that religious accommodations requested by Muslims show that they don’t really want to integrate and that anger towards them is justified”[1]. The best way to remove this anger against Muslims is not to multiply religious privileges and promote religious communitarianism, but to base integration policies on Canada’s secular and democratic values.

In particular, because of its history, Quebec is strongly attached to the values of secularism and religious neutrality of its institutions. However, the NCCM calls for the fight against Bill 21 (Loi sur la laïcité de l’État), duly adopted by the Quebec parliament and supported by a large majority of Quebecers, as well as by a variety of citizens’ associations of all origins, including the Association québécoise des Nord-Africains pour la laïcité, the Council for Muslims Facing Tomorrow, as well as many Muslim columnists in English Canada. 

This law requires that certain public officials in positions of authority, including teachers, not wear religious symbols, in order to respect the freedom of conscience of all citizens. One of the effects of Bill 21 is to limit the social pressure of the Islamic veil on young Muslim girls in public schools. It should be noted that this law is minimalist.  It does not prohibit the wearing of religious symbols by students, as is the case in France, nor does it allow for the imposition of religious neutrality in companies, as the European Court of Justice has just authorized.

However, Bill 21 is under attack. Quebecers are accused of racism, islamophobia or even nazism because of their attachment to secularism.  By taking Bill 21 to court, the NCCM is leading the way in this smear campaign, and it is no surprise that two of their recommendations (29 and 30) call for the fight against Bill 21. 

This stubborn attack on the fundamental values of the Quebec nation can only exacerbate tensions towards Muslims.

Moreover, one cannot fight against a phenomenon while ignoring its cause. If Islam is frightening, it is because of Islamist terrorist attacks throughout the world, offensives against human rights in countries where Islam is dominant, but also because of the entry of Islamist ideology in the West, notably through the imposition of the Islamic veil for women. 

We recently learned that the Iranian journalist Masih Alinejad was the victim of an attempted kidnapping by the Iranian regime, in New York, because of her action against the compulsory veiling of women. The same network of spies also had three Iranian dissidents followed to Canada in the past year.

The Islamic threat, particularly from the theocratic regimes of Iran and Saudi Arabia, which are willing to do anything to defend their backward vision of Islam, is very real. Canadians are aware of this.

Yet, not only does the CNMC make no mention of the need to combat a certain retrograde manifestation of Islam, but its recommendations in this regard are staggering to say the least. Indeed, the report calls on the Government of Canada to halt its National Strategy to Combat Violent Extremism and Radicalization (recommendation 13) and to suspend (14) the Review and Examination Division (RED) of the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), which is responsible for identifying and preventing terrorist financing threats in Canada. 

The actions of the RED have led to the revocation of several Muslim charities, such as the Islamic Centre of Ottawa, accused of allowing its resources to be used to promote hatred and intolerance[2], or IRFAN-Canada for funding terrorism[3].

It is worth noting that other of the NCCM’s recommendations call for oversight of national security agencies, including CSIS, which they suspect of racist, xenophobic and Islamophobic practices and “white supremacist penetration” (4), as well as the Canada Border Services Agency, also suspected of misconduct (18).

Stop monitoring organizations that may be funding terrorism and put national security agencies under control under the pretext of Islamophobia? What better way to sow the seeds of political Islam in Canada? What worries us most is that Prime Minister Trudeau seems to be listening carefully to these accusations.

Furthermore, we strongly oppose recommendations to create curricula that address Islamophobia and that “affirm Muslim identities” (43).

We are Canadian citizens of Tunisian, Algerian, Egyptian, Palestinian, Afghan, Pakistani origin, all of whom have different cultures and different relationships to religion and faith.  We want our children to be seen as Canadian citizens before any other identity and we refuse to allow the school system to be manipulated to push them into the silo of political Islam through victimization.

Finally, in order to “defend the public interests of Canadian Muslims”, as the NCCM claims to do, the least we can do is to stop conveying a fundamentalist image of Islam, and to stop the unworthy amalgamations that are made, in this report, between the under-investigation murder of a family in London Ontario, and Quebec’s Secularism Act.

Nadia El-Mabrouk, author of Notre laïcité.

Tarek Fatah, author and journalist

Yasmine Mohammed, author, activist, and president of Free Hearts Free Minds 

Raheel Raza, Chair of Council of Muslims facing Tomorrow

Ferid R. Chikhi, Consultant in socio-cultural integration

Ensaf Haidar, wife of Raif Badawi

Nabila Ben Youssef, actress and lecturer

Tahir Gora, TAG TV host

Mazahir Rahim, filmmaker

Zabi Enayat-Zada, author “Afghan et musulman, le Quebec m’a conquis”

Hassan Jamali, author of “Coran et déviation politique”

Asif Niazi, “Islam in 21st Century”

Ali Kaidi, teacher and author

Khaled Sulaiman, author and journalist

Intizar Zaidi, journalist

Farida Zerar, M.A Researcher in Kabyle and intercultural studies

Mohand Abdelli, retired P.Eng

Nora Abdelli, Chemical Engineer

Fouzia Aberkane, nurse

Fatima Aboubakr, Canadian citizen

Tahar Ait Abdeslam, banker

Rua Alfadil

Reem Al Hinai, pediatric surgeon

Kamel Amari, journalist

Idir Atif, secular activist

Katia Atif, feminist activist

Bahar Bakhtiar

Imtiaz Baloch, businessman

Zaffar Baloch, Human Rights activist

Amani Ben Ammar

Radhia Ben Amor, feminist activist

Leila Bensalem, teacher

Nawal Bouchareb, analyst

Aftab Chaudhury

Yasmina Chouakri, feminist activist

Hakima Djermoune, pharmaceutical quality control inspector

Kamel Emgharba, electrical engineer

Ines Hadjkacem, secular activist

Salah Hanou, CEO

Hassiba Idir, secular activist

Nacer Irid, engineer

Fadhila Jebnoun, feminist activist

Mumtaz Khan, realtor

Leila Laridhi, Canadian citizen

Leila lesbet, Universalist feminist

Najia Lfarouk, secular Muslim and Canadian citizen

Cedrik Mellata, tax expert

Haroon Orakzai, Pushtun Rights activist

Sohail Raza, retired airline executive

Hocine Sahnoun, computer scientist

Farid Salem, consultant in intercultural relations

Amir Schahzad, engineer

Kamel Serbouh, president of a cultural association

Ferroudja Si Hadj Mohand, educator

Silo Slimane, Taxieur

Nacera Zergane, Broker in finance and insurance

[1] Cathy Senay, « Des préjugés tenaces face à la communauté musulmane, selon un sondage », Radio Canada, 13 mars 2017,



English version provided by authors. French text here

Michel Virard