Raheel Raza poses for a photo at her home in Mississauga, Ont., on Feb. 18, 2006. Currently, Ms. Raza heads up the steering committee of the Council of Muslims Against Antisemitism and is leader of the Council of Muslims Facing Tomorrow. (CP Photo/Nathan Denette)

Ottawa Should Support Canadian Muslim Groups That Condemn Hamas, Instead of Funding Anti-Semitic Ones

According to a January report submitted to Israel’s Knesset regarding anti-Semitism around the world since Oct. 7, anti-Semitism is up 800 percent in Canada (higher than France, Germany, and the UK). In Toronto alone, police have seen a 93 percent increase in the number of reported hate crimes since the Israel–Hamas war began, compared to the same time period a year earlier—most against Jews.
Canadian Jews worry for their physical safety, of course, but they also feel an ominous sense of civic isolation. Shocked sympathy for the victims of Hamas’s atrocities lasted about 48 hours. After that, the vicious blowback—ostensibly against Israel, in reality against Jews—began, a conflagration largely led and fed by pro-Hamas Canadian Muslims.

Many Christian and secular Canadians expressed unconditional revulsion for the Oct. 7 atrocities, which was a comfort. But Hamas’s proto-genocide was undertaken in a spirit of deeply anti-Semitic Islamist triumphalism. If ever there was an anti-terrorism, step-up “Islam is a religion of peace” moment for prominent Muslim leaders—as happened after 9/11—this was it.
But that did not happen. Instead, Amira Elghawaby, Canada’s Islamophobia “czar,” scolded those who called out the anti-Semitism characterizing a demonstration at Toronto’s Mount Sinai Hospital, in spite of clear evidence to support the charge, indirectly accusing Israel sympathizers of racism.
The government’s indulgence of Muslim leaders’ demands for “phobia” parity with Jews exacerbates Jews’ concerns. Despite the chasm in gravity between the two problems, Justin Trudeau almost never condemns anti-Semitism without condemning Islamophobia in the same breath. Moreover, what nobody in government has the spine to mention is that while Canadian Jews are not harassing or beating up Muslims, the alarming uptick in hate crimes against Jews is almost entirely due to escalating aggression by the many extremists among Canadian Muslims. It is, of course, considered Islamophobic to mention this inconvenient reality.

Against this backdrop, it was instructive to have confirmation from a recent Aristotle Foundation study that the Muslim community in Canada is in general, and at the least, lacking in empathy for their fellow Jewish citizens, even in their most tragic historical moment since the Holocaust.
The study, titled “Six months after October 7th: An analysis of terror attack responses by Canada’s religious groups,” had its origins in author Rahim Mohamed’s shock at the “wave of public displays of religious intolerance—mostly targeting Jewish Canadians—that would have been unthinkable just days earlier.”
A senior fellow at the Aristotle Foundation and a National Post columnist, Mohamed undertook a careful analysis of post-Oct. 7 statements, both formal and informal, by Canada’s leading Muslim organizations. From his findings, he concluded that interfaith relations in Canada are arguably “even worse than the headlines would suggest; indicating that it is not just a small, vocal minority who’s turned against Canada’s Jewish community, but in fact much of the Muslim community’s leadership.”
Mohamed looked at 10 influential Muslim civil society groups. Most of them “barely acknowledged the slaughter of Jews in southern Israel,” choosing to view it through the lens of justified resistance to Israeli occupation, with the National Council of Canadian Muslims X-posting on Oct 8: “As Canadians and as Muslims … We stand against generations of oppression, occupation, and against attacking the [Gaza] innocent. Period.” This sentiment was later endorsed by the Muslim Association of Canada. Both receive government funding.
By contrast, swiftly conveyed, unequivocal sympathy characterized the Jewish community’s response to tragedies affecting Canadian Muslims. Mohamed reviewed statements by 10 Jewish organizations following the 2017 massacre at Quebec City’s Centre Culturel Islamique, and the 2021 London, Ontario, truck attack that targeted a Muslim family, killing four of them.
The prominent groups B’nai Brith, the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA), the Montreal Holocaust Centre, and Toronto’s Friends of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre along with five others issued condemnations within a day of the Quebec City massacre. A CIJA tweet summed it up: “An attack on any of us is an attack on all of us.”
The disparity in expressed empathy is, Mohamed believes, “a worrying departure from the Canadian norm of publicly expressing interfaith solidarity” in tough emotional times for other cultural groups. The breaking of “this admirable custom” does not, he concludes, “bode well for the future of religious civility in Canada.”

A loss of “civility” is the least of Jews’ plausible fears for the future. The Muslim leadership made a considered choice in their refusal to commiserate with Jewish suffering, a silence that speaks volumes. My own reading of this subliminal shot across the cultural bows is: ‘From here on, we won’t fake adherence to the Canadian values of pluralism and mutual respect. If that looks like anti-Semitism, we don’t care. We have the demographic upper hand in this democracy—Muslims, whose numbers are rising, can swing 20–40 electorally competitive Ontario and B.C. ridings; Jews, whose numbers are declining, a maximum of four overall—and we intend to make good use of it to further our interests.’

In a telephone interview, Mohamed said the moment is ripe for a frank discussion on immigration, with realistic consideration given to culturally entrenched beliefs about other faiths, and “re-introducing the question of whether we are integrating new Canadians” so that Canada is “not just a hotel.” Whatever “we” do, though, will require cooperation from Muslim leadership if it is to trickle down to their communities.

Mohamed’s study offers a clue as to how that might come about. He found that two of the 10 Muslim groups, the Council of Muslims Facing Tomorrow (CMFT)—whose redoubtable leader, Raheel Raza, also heads up the steering committee of the admirable sub-group Council of Muslims Against Antisemitism—and the Global Imams Council (GIC), released statements condemning Hamas outright. Both expend considerable energy on fighting anti-Semitism. Both condemn triumphalist Islam. Both embrace democracy and religious pluralism. Both renounce medieval misogynistic customs associated with fundamentalist Islam. In short, both of these commendable and courageous groups provide ample evidence that Muslims are as capable as anyone else of living as equals in complete harmony with other faiths.
Why then does this government ignore them, while continually courting the “hotel” leaders? Here’s a recommendation: Stop funding the non-integrationist groups and start funding CMFT and GIC. Offer these enlightened Muslims a seat at the consultative table, and publicize such gatherings. Issue hearty, frequent commendations of their civic maturity. These gestures would make it clear to people here, as well as to immigrants from anti-Semitism-riddled cultures, that they are Canadians’ preferred civic model.

That obviously won’t happen under Justin Trudeau’s leadership. But, hopefully, our prime minister-in-waiting will tuck these suggestions into his file titled “Islamism-based anti-Semitism in Canada: Strategies to counter.”