Tag Archives: islamophobia

The People Who Love Donald Trump’s Favorite Preacher

Reverend Franklin Graham is the preacher who gave the blessing at Donald Trump's inauguration this past January. He has caused significant unease within the Christian world, and the general public, for saying things like Islam is evil, that LGBTQ people should not be welcomed into your home, and that God intervened to elect Trump because, among other things, the White House had been infiltrated by secularists and Muslims. He's also the son of legendary tent revivalist, Billy Graham. And an Obama birther to boot, according to the Globe and Mail.

Graham was in Canada this weekend—not under some tent in rural Alberta, but preaching to a packed 20,000-seat stadium in rainy, progressive Vancouver. I went to the free-to-the-public "Festival of Hope" to find out why so many turned out for a man openly opposed by many local church leaders and politicians.

More than 30 church leaders published an open letter to the organizers last week calling out Franklin Graham's invitation. "[Graham] has made disparaging and uncharitable remarks about Muslims and the LGBTQ community, while portraying the election, administration, and policies of U.S. President Donald Trump as intrinsically aligned with the Christian church," reads the letter. They asked the organizers to drop Graham from the event.

Many of the people I met outside the venue expressed hurt over the "divisions" within the "body of Christ" over the event.

In response to the letter, Graham released a statement: "Politics, policies, economics and commerce are significant matters, but for these three days, we will come together in Vancouver to focus on the most important thing of all: God's love for each and every one of us."

And that's what his followers told me they were here to experience. Frank, 65, explained to me how it's the media's fault—for misrepresenting Graham and creating divisions.

"If you were represented by the news media as one quote that you made, how do you know the person's heart unless they have a chance of rebuttal?" he said. "You can't. There's no way that you can do that... It comes down to a misrepresentation of small dialogues that he made."

His partner, Audrey, 55, jumped in, saying, "We're not against the gay lesbian population at all, no. I think he [Graham] needs to explain what he said because when you make a statement like that they chop off everything before and in the middle."

Our conversation was cut off as they entered the building.

Like many in the lineup, Kristine, 27, was excited to help spread the gospel. She and her husband Marco were not familiar with the controversy surrounding Graham.

"I'm quite surprised for a Christian preacher like that, how come he mentions those kind of things. This is open for everyone… he shouldn't be acting like that," Marco said.

The couple told me about their home church in the suburbs and how they've been part of a group that has been praying for the event. They explained that they were excited about the good things that God wants to do in Vancouver and concluded that, despite the divisions, the time has come to "set aside the politics and just enjoy the event."

Outside the venue, there was a contingent of 20 or so loosely affiliated people demonstrating against the event. I asked one of the protesters, a 25-year-old named Celine, about Marco's particular refrain. She's a Christian, as were most of the demonstrators, and was holding a sign that read: "Love your LGBTQ+ neighbour."

"I don't think that you can ever isolate the idea of souls being saved or the gospel being preached without the context of politics and social impact that surrounds those ideas," said Celine. "In my opinion, the gospel, which is the good news for all people, is inherently political and so it just depends on what politics you see as aligning with it."

Vick, 29, made the trek from Surrey for the event. "I love sharing my testimony," he told me, explaining that he grew up Sikh, but he was saved after God intervened in his life by preventing his brother's suicide.

"I've heard things that he's done, but I've also learned that hearsay is just hearsay," he said. "I don't think he meant it in that way. I think he meant it in that some, you know, are very radical, and they're against every other person."

No one should ever say anything hateful about anyone, he added. We should all "just have love." And from what I could tell, he genuinely meant it.

Inside the venue, it was a familiar scene for any hockey fan, minus the overpriced beer (and the hockey). It was a dry event, and the crowd I confronted was by far the politest crowd I've ever confronted in Rogers Arena. The food workers looked pleasantly bored, expecting a food rush that never showed.

A band that sounded like a Christian Arcade Fire was playing, and the place was packed up to the nosebleeds. Lyrics appeared on large screens so everyone could sing along to phrases and titles like: "Children of love. Soldiers of God. Your love awakens me. God is in this place tonight. You're beautiful."

Irony was abundant. Ads for the upcoming Lady Gaga showed, and a Game of Thrones fandom event sat awkwardly among the scatterings of Christian organizations promoting their ministries, like Focus on the Family.

Scrounging the last available spots underneath the large screens, I craned my neck to the left to see Graham's gigantic head. He was the lone figure on the floor, standing atop a walkway on an eight-foot stage, staring out into an empty ground floor, soon to be filled by converts. His figure cast a metaphor for each and every person in the arena—how they too stand before god, alone.

He was composed and steady in his tone. He spoke with a calming southern drawl that was emphasized when he said words like Babylon (it came out "Ba-ba-lyn"). His sermon—a story about a man who was a "party animal"—consisted of nine verses from the book of Daniel in the Old Testament.

"Sin is disobedience to God, and we're all guilty of that," he said, as part of his larger sermon about the pagan secular city of Babylon, and how it fell to an enemy army because its leader, Belshazzar ("Bal-shaz-a"), did not repent.

"God would have forgiven him… but he just sat there," he said.

For the most part, Graham steered clear of politics—almost. This is Franklin Graham after all. His website has a donation button with the title: "We won't back down. We won't retreat."

"Many of you here tonight may be guilty of immorality," he said. "You see the Bible says that the body is not meant for sexual immorality. The Bible says flee from sexual immorality… God first of all, gave us sex, and he wants us to use sex. Sex is a wonderful part of our life, but it's to be used in a marriage relationship between a man and a woman."

Rogers Arena erupted into a chorus of applause.

After that he went deeper into talking about sin and forgiveness, how he too is a sinner, that you can't save yourself, that God loves you, and that now is the chance to tell Jesus you're sorry.

Then came the alter call, the point of all of this, the moment when, if you want to repent, you publicly respond to the preacher's message. Into the pit where the Vancouver Canucks ice rink normally sits, hundreds, maybe thousands (though it was hard to tell exactly between the volunteers and the about-to-be-saved) filed in. I followed the crowd and listened as people began confessing their most intimate thoughts with members of the Graham ministry team wearing orange vests—people trained to help the new believers in conversion. Graham talked the sinners through a simple prayer, which they repeated after him, line for line.

And then it was done. Another chorus of cheers.

On my way up to retrieve my things from section 320, the tip of the nosebleeds, I had one last conversation, with Destiny, 28. She told me she attended a church that was protesting the event, though she'd rather not say which one.

The divide is hurtful, she explained, speaking of the collection of Vancouver churches boycotting the event. She said that she's been "persecuted" for being honest, that political correctness is a problem, and that she wants to go on a Facebook fast because of all the negativity she's seeing in the media.

She opened up freely. She talked about how the event is powerful and overwhelming. That it's about love. That it's full of hope. That it's about what God thinks, not what people think. That the world is suffering. That God can use Graham, despite the division, for the greater good.

"We can be too blunt… as Franklin Graham can be, we're only human. But people do need to hear the truth, and the truth will set you free. But we do it out of love," she said.

For Destiny, the event had an added level of meaning. She told me that her mother was saved at a crusade just like this one, led by Billy Graham many years ago. That synchronicity was ultimately the reason Destiny was here, chaperoning two youths in the nosebleed section as they waited for the redeemed to flee the floor area so the bands could come back on.

She, like many of the people I talked to that night, relayed the same message: That coincidences are often evidence of the divine.

As I squeezed myself between a railing and the growing crowd of converts, I heard a familiar voice. I could see shaded brass sunglasses, a balding head, and a tense chin and jaw. Immediately in front of me was the very same man who, two weeks before, called me a "faggot" and threatened to kick my ass at a downtown Vancouver bus stop after I stood between him and a young woman that he was harassing.

Drunk, holding an open Pepsi can and a crinkled tote bag stuffed with Festival of Hope swag, he started speaking in tongues as two Graham handlers tried to walk him through the sinner's prayer and then politely out the building. Go figure.

The Dumbest Things I Heard at an Anti-Anti-Islamophobia Protest

This article first appeared on VICE Canada

For the last few weeks, Liberal MP Iqra Khalid's motion, M-103 has been the source of a little bit of controversy, to put it extremely mildly. The motion, which aims to examine "systemic racism and religious discrimination," somehow has some people believing we're soon going to be living under a form of Islamic Shariah here in Canada (we're not). Backlash against the motion, which is to be voted on in April, has gotten so bad that Khalid has received thousands of hateful emails daily.

This weekend, there was yet another battle for Canada's freedom (or something) against the looming threat of this motion, which was described to me by an anti-M-103 protester as "a slippery slope" towards anti-blasphemy laws becoming the norm. A Facebook event described the protest as a rally for free speech against M-103,but of course—it's main focus was "anti-anti-Islamophobia" or, rather, "pro-Islamophobia."

This wasn't my first rodeo going to an anti-Islam gathering as a visible Muslim reporter. I had previously attended a rally organized by Rebel Media a few weeks ago so I knew what to expect. However, the difference between this particular protest and the Rebel rally was a significant counter protest, which, according to far right watchdog community Pegida Watch Canada included the support dozens of groups in Toronto alone. I had a feeling going in that the counter-protests would outnumber the actual protests significantly.

Upon entering Nathan Phillips Square outside Toronto City Hall, just beyond the skating rink and the colourful TORONTO sign, I noticed a couple of hundred people with signs—all counter-protesters. The event was heavily policed, and inside a small semicircle with police bicycles forming a barrier were about 50 anti-M-103 protesters.

I spent the bulk of the couple-hours-long protest inside the anti-anti-Islamophobia bubble, leaving only a few times to mingle amongst the counter-protesters, because the cops were getting increasingly strict with separating everyone. After leaving the semi-circle the first time, I had to beg and charm three different officers before I was let back in. Shrieking "I'm a journalist, I'm just observing! Here, take my business card!" did the trick.

Inside the anti M-103 crowd, I observed and listened to many conversations—including chatting with some people myself. Anti-Islam protesters aren't exactly known to be the most enlightened bunch and a part of me was hoping to hear some kind of reference to "Muslamic ray guns" at the very least.

Unfortunately, nobody asked me about ray-guns. Not unlike the Rebel Rally, few people seemed to know what they were talking about—and nobody cared either. Without further ado, here are some of the worst things overheard, said to me, or to my colleagues are the following:

1: People kept referring to M-103 as "a law" or "the bill" when it is not any of those things. A bill is a proposed law, whereas a motion is non-binding and not intended to impact the law in any way—if you didn't know it yet, M-103 is very much a motion, not a bill (stop being dumb.)

2: Verbatim, a middle aged woman who did not want to be named said M-103 concerns her because, "It's such a vague law that can be used to silence people." Her main concern was that it was the beginning of a slippery slope. What kind of slippery slope? If M-103 passes, "You might not be taken into regular court. Maybe you could be taken into a human rights court which doesn't have the same rules." In human rights court according to her, "People can get convicted and if they don't have money to defend themselves, then it becomes a precedent. Then slowly you lose your freedom to say what you think." She then let me know she was not against Muslim people. Sure, Jan.

3: When I asked the same woman whether or not she knew the motion wanted to look at, track, and contextualize not only Islamophobic hate crimes but others as well, her male companion jumped in and apparently didn't hear the rest of my sentence because his response was, "There's a fake word in there called 'Islamophobia.'" As spittle formed in the corners of his mouth, he then told me "I have the right to fear whatever I want. Absolute right to fear whatever I want. Nobody could tell me what I can say or do as long as it's not inciting people to do any hateful actions, period." I didn't get a chance to ask him whether or not he knew how Islamophobia worked, because it apparently doesn't exist.

A Soldiers of Odin member at the rally.

4: A woman named Pat who was dressed in a sweater she may have bought off a DC street on inauguration day—along with a MAGA hat—told me and my colleague she thought a lot of hate crimes since Trump came into power were really promoted by people on the left. "They've been promoting it. Look at the DNC, true journalists at Project Veritas found out the DNC actually hired organizations to go into rallies and cause physical violence." (If anyone has been sent cheques please tell me who's been paying you, I'd love some extra cash) Later on, out of nowhere, she told us that her sister-in-law couldn't leave the house without a full burka or something bad would happen to her. We asked where her sister-in-law lived, she told us Casablanca. (In reality, Morocco recently banned the production and import of the burka.)

5: A man whose face was covered with a scarf came up to me and my colleague and started talking to her as if I wasn't actually there and kept referring to me only as "she." When he did have questions, or rather accusations, he would direct them towards me. "There are no jobs in Islamic countries," he told me, like I was in on some kind of international economic plot. When I said, "Yes, there are" (because there are) he ignored me. Then he returned to talking to my colleague as though I wasn't there until he made another statement he expected me to refute. At this point, I was looking at my phone and told him, "I wasn't listening, sorry." He laughed at me and told me colleague, "These people are good at lies." He then instructed her to read the Qur'an cover to cover, but to NOT ask me about it because I would just feed her lies.

6: Eric Brazeau (above), a man who was sentenced to nine months in jail for promoting hatred also attended the rally. A cop recognized him, because he was told he may be violating his parole. When asked by my colleague about Alexandre Bissonnette killing six Muslims at a mosque after prayer he said, "That's a red herring." According to Brazeau, "That mosque was aligned with the Muslim brotherhood so maybe Alexandre Bissonette thought he was doing the world a favour." He then said these rallies were important, even if they did make him feel uncomfortable. But you know who else wasn't comfortable, according to Brazeau? "The soldiers storming the beaches in Normandy. You gotta do what you gotta do."

The rally ended when the cops tried guiding protesters out of their protective circle. Beginning with escorting the Soldiers of Odin out of the area, they instructed other protesters to start leaving as well because they, "couldn't protect them anymore." Throughout my time there it was pretty clear that those opposing M-103 genuinely had no idea what a motion is, nor do they care to know. For them, it's a way to rally together against the real enemy—Muslims. While the crowd was much smaller than their opposition they were so passionate in their ignorance, I don't see these clashes ending any time soon.

Photos by Mack Lamoureux

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White House Says the Shooting of Two Indian Men in Kansas Was Likely ‘Racially Motivated’

Almost a full week after a 51-year-old bar-goer reportedly shouted "get out of my country" before murdering an Indian man, the White House denounced the act as likely "racially motivated hatred," according to Agence Presse-France.

"As more facts come to light and it begins to look like this was an act of racially motivated hatred," Sarah Sanders, a White House spokeswoman, told reporters, "we want to reiterate the president condemns these or any other racially or religiously motivated attacks in the strongest terms. They have no place in our country."

Last Wednesday, Adam Purinton allegedly walked into Austin's Bar and Grill outside of Kansas City and opened fire at two Indian patrons. He then drove 70 miles to an Applebee's where he confessed to a bartender that he had "done something really bad" to some people he erroneously believed to be from Iran. He was arrested without incident at the restaurant after staff called the police.

Srinivas Kuchibhotla, a 32-year-old Indian engineer, died at the hospital that night. Purinton has since been charged with first-degree murder and two counts of attempted first-degree murder for injuring Kuchibhotla's friend, Alok Madasani, and Ian Grillot, a 24-year-old who tried to intervene. The FBI announced Tuesday that it is investigating the Kansas bar shooting as a hate crime.

Madasani's parents have since warned other Indian parents not to send their children to the United States, saying the country is now dangerous for foreigners of color following Donald Trump's election. Trump campaigned on banning Muslims from entering the country, and soon after he took office, he issued an executive order that barred immigration from seven majority-Muslim nations.

Today's statement from the White House is the first time the administration acknowledged the attack since Friday, when press secretary Sean Spicer said that there was no correlation between the president's rhetoric and the shooting.

"Any loss of life is tragic," he said at the daily press conference. "But I'm not going to get into, like, that kind of––to suggest that there's any correlation, I think is a bit absurd."

Follow Allie Conti on Twitter.

Confronting the UK’s Everyday Extremism

On the season finale of our VICELAND series HATE THY NEIGHBOR, host Jamali Maddix goes home to Britain to confront its most deep-rooted fears about the future of the country and Britain's acceptance of multiculturalism and racism in the shadow of Brexit.

HATE THY NEIGHBOR airs Mondays at 10 PM on VICELAND.

Want to know if you get VICELAND? Head here to find out how to tune in.

Hate Group Trackers Say They’re ‘Struggling’ to Keep Up with the Alt-Right

On Wednesday the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) on hate group activity over the course of last year. The major development of 2016 was of course the rise of the "alt-right," that amorphous group of white nationalists, men's rights activists, trolls, and Islamophobes who love to puff up their chests on the internet. But as far as numbers are concerned, the SPLC report doesn't have much to say about the alt-right.released its 2017 report

The report does however highlight an increase in the overall number of US hate groups. In total, there are now 917 such groups, about 100 shy of the all-time record, set in 2011. It's a significant—though not shocking—increase from last year's count of 892. 

"There's no doubt at all that these numbers understate—and probably dramatically—the real state of the radical right," the report's author, Mark Potok, told journalists in a conference call Wednesday. But as his report notes, since many of the people who hold radical views are just the readers of alt-right websites, they "may be less visible than before because they are not affiliated with actual groups." 

"While the overall level of hate groups remained fairly steady, the period saw a noticeable drop in real-world extremist activities like rallies and violence," the report says.

"It's true that we're struggling with this," Potok said during the call. He pointed to the example of Dylann Roof, who massacred nine black people in a church in 2015, but never went to any Klan meetings or became an official member of a white nationalist organization before plotting his horrific hate crime. Instead, Roof was radicalized—like many young men—by going down the rabbit hole of racist websites. "It's clear that more and more of these people are operating exclusively on the internet, except when the moment comes to start shooting," Potok said.

In other words, the number of hate groups in the US has little to do with the breadth or depth of the hatred brewing in the US.  

"We never had the illusion that counting groups was the best way," Potok added.

That said, the report does identify some important players on the far-right fringe. Four of the new racist groups on the SPLC's radar for the year rose to prominence essentially as what Potok called "cheerleaders" for the Trump campaign. Two of the newly designated hate groups, the Daily Stormer and the Right Stuff, are basically alt-right blogs and forums. The other two, Identity Evropa, and American Vanguard, look a little more active. They both appear to send members out into the IRL world decked out in the Richard Spencer–influenced dapper Nazi look, talking to college students and flyering neighborhoods with white nationalist propaganda. 

Potok also argued that, to some extent, high-profile events like Trump's political rallies made actual hate group memberships redundant. When there's plenty of "anti-government vitriol" coming from the mouth of a presidential candidate—who is now the president—why look for a special anti-government club? There's some historical basis for this: Extremist groups like Arizona's Minutemen, vigilantes who patrolled the border because they thought the government was being insufficiently tough on undocumented immigrants, declined in numbers as state politicians enacted harsh crackdowns on undocumented immigrants.

Significantly, Potok found a 197 percent increase in the number of anti-Muslim hate groups, from 34 in 2015 to 101 in 2016. "The most important factor has been Donald Trump and his campaign," Potok argued, and criticized the president for promoting the "entirely false idea that 25 percent of Muslims believe in jihad." (This idea comes from a deeply flawed poll from a hawkish think tank.)

The FBI's most recent hate crime data comes from 2015, not 2016, but that year—during which Trump called for a "total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States"—saw a 67 percent increase in anti-Muslim hate crimes

But tracking hate groups in the era of the alt-right is tougher than ever. Potok explained that in order to make it into the report, a group has to meet the SPLC hate group criteria, meaning it must "have beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics." And there must be a record that the group was active on the ground in the past year, which means doing things like "accepting members and selling literature," Potok told reporters.

But even though new forms of bigotry have been tough to quantify, the report calls 2016, "a banner year for hate."

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What Would Happen if Canada Shut Its Borders?

Just two days after US president Donald Trump signed an executive order banning immigrants and refugees from seven Muslim-majority countries, six Muslim worshippers at a Quebec City mosque were shot dead.

The alleged killer, Alexandre Bissonnette, has been described as a xenophobic, right-wing troll. The response has been righteously furious. Thousands of Torontonians rallied outside the US Consulate Saturday, and in the days since, more than 4,000 people joined the newly founded Coalition Against White Supremacy and Islamophobia, a group that says it wants immigration reform in Canada. Among its demands:

  • Open the Canadian border to refugees and immigrants being rejected by the US
  • Scrap the Safe Third Country Agreement, which says that refugees can either claim asylum in Canada or the US, but not both
  • Stop the detention of immigrants
  • Grant pathways to citizenship for undocumented immigrants

Seemingly in response to Trump's Muslim ban, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted "those fleeing persecution, terror & war, Canadians will welcome you." However, Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen later said Canada will not be increasing its refugee quotas for the time being.

As it stands, Canada accepts around 250,000 immigrants per year, with the goal of taking in 300,000 in 2017. By 2036, immigrants could make up a third of Canada's population, according to Statistics Canada, and half the population is expected to be either an immigrant or a child of an immigrant.

Graphic by Jane Kim

Not everyone is happy with Canada's fairly open immigration policy, however. Conservative leadership candidate Kellie Leitch said she is in favor of screening immigrants for "Canadian values" and of abandoning immigration quotas.

But what would actually happen if Canada shut down immigration outright? VICE reached out to a bunch of experts to ask what the fallout of such a decision would be.

We'd die off

Canada's population was at 35,151,728 in 2016, according to Statistics Canada, an increase of 5 percent from 2011, with two-thirds of that coming from immigration and one-third coming from fertility. With Canada's birth rate at 1.6 kids per woman (the replacement rate is 2.1), we're no longer making enough babies to replenish our population. If we stopped immigration, we would literally start to die off as a population, which would lead to a whole host of problems, such as:

Economy will tank

"Immigrants are the economically active part of the population," said Arne Ruckert, a researcher at the University of Ottawa's Institute of Population, pointing out that many immigrants are in the 19–45 age range, who contribute to the work force. Without them, "the economy would essentially come to a standstill or decline."

Ruckert, who moved to Canada from Germany in 2002, said Canada's GDP would decrease 2 percent if we ceased immigration for just one year. (There are about 500,000 temporary foreign workers here at any given time.) Certain careers, including nursing, domestic work, technology, and low-wage and precarious jobs, particularly rely on immigrants.

"Canada just does not produce enough graduates in certain areas."

Immigration also makes it easier to facilitate trade with other countries and garner foreign investment.

"We'll actually need more immigration than today," Ruckert noted. "If we don't have it, we'll simply have an economic collapse like they have in Japan."

Cuts to social assistance

Because we would have fewer workers in the labor market, there would be less money going toward social-welfare programs like pensions, healthcare, and employment insurance, said Phil Triadafilopoulos, a political science professor at the University of Toronto.

"There'd be a lot of stress on our social-welfare system," he said. "The money that would be put into the system would be to pay for an increasing number of older people."

Retired folks require more support for medical and at home care, and without immigrants, we would fail to meet those demands.

More racism, isolation, and violence

Debbie Douglas, executive director of the Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Refugees, said shutting our borders would hurt immigrants already here with family overseas.

"Refugee families often don't have an opportunity to make plans and often times families are separated," she said. "How do you manage through the kind of trauma that shutting the borders would cause, especially if you're family is in places where they're not safe."

While Canada's view of itself as a "cultural mosaic" is an oversimplified cliche, Triadafilopoulos said stopping immigration in a country like ours would send a clear and negative message: "You're saying something's wrong with immigration, which means you're saying something's wrong with immigrants."

He points out the fear and uncertainty that immigrants in the US are experiencing under Trump, with many expressing that it's the first time they've felt unwelcome.

"It emboldens people. It sends a message that being a racist or a bigot is acceptable because the person who has the highest office in the land goes on this way."

Douglas said there is already a growing sentiment of Islamophobia, and some immigrants are seen as "more deserving" than others. Leitch's vetting for values proposal is emblematic of that, she said, but cutting off immigration entirely would worsen the racial tension.

"I can very much see it growing social incohesion, which often leads to violence."

Innovation and culture would suffer

Immigrants make up 40 percent of academic chairs in Canada, said Rucker, and without them, we'd see a massive decline in innovation.

In terms of culture, immigrants win a disproportionate number of literary and arts prizes, according to the Conference Board of Canada, accounting for 23 percent of Giller Prize finalists and 29 percent of winners. As well, immigrants make up 23 percent of Governor General's Performing Arts Awards.

While Canada typically performs lower than other rich nations when it comes to innovation, it can make up for that by bringing in highly educated immigrants.

Plus, our cities and towns (Toronto's population is 50 percent immigrants) would straight up be more boring without the shops and restaurants that come with diversity.

Other countries would be like "WTF"

Nipa Banerjee, a University of Ottawa professor at the School of International Development, said Canada is admired around the world for its perceived diversity.

"The impression that people have is that Canada is a very open country; their values are to be cherished," said Banerjee, who often travels for work. "They bring up the subject of our prime minister who is looked up on as a person who is very humanitarian, a people's person."

She said we only need to look to America's plummeting reputation in light of Trump to see what would happen here.

Triadafilopoulos said Canada has remained pro-immigration, despite growing resentment in places like Europe and the US, so barring it would cause other countries to "be wondering what the hell is going on."

"It would signal something has gone sideways in our political system," he said. "It would feed into this trend and be the final exclamation point."

Follow Manisha Krishnan on Twitter.

A Canadian Woman Says She Was Turned Away at the US Border After Questions About Her Religion

Fadwa Alaoui, a Muslim Canadian citizen who was originally born in Morocco, says she was denied entry to the US over the weekend after border officials grilled her about her religious views and thoughts about Trump.

According to CBC, Alaoui planned to go shopping in Burlington, Vermont, with her family on Saturday, but was detained at the Highgate Springs/Phillipsburg border crossing. Alaoui says border agents asked her to hand over her phone and password—which sounds awfully close to those new extreme security measures floated by Homeland Security this week—and that they then questioned her extensively about her religious practices. Border Patrol also asked if she knew anyone killed at the the recent Quebec City mosque shooting.  

"I felt humiliated, treated as if I was less than nothing," Alaoui told CBC. "It's as if I wasn't Canadian."

Alaoui says the questioning lasted for four hours, before she was finally turned away. When they denied her entry and returned her phone, border agents told her they had found troubling videos.

"They said, 'You're not allowed to go to the United States because we found videos on your phone that are against us.'" According to Alaoui, the videos on her phone were of daily prayers.

CBC reached out to US Customs and Border Patrol about the incident, which denied that Alaoui was not allowed entry because of her religious affiliation. "[Customs and Border Patrol] does not discriminate on the entry of foreign nationals to the United States based on religion, race, ethnicity, or sexual orientation," David Long, a spokesman for CBP, said.

How Governments Can Curb Anti-Sikh Discrimination

(Top photo from a protest in 2013 unrelated to this piece. Photo: Yui Mok PA Archive/PA Images)

There are over 400,000 Sikhs living in the UK—a pretty sizable number by any stretch. But when it comes to acknowledgement from wider society, some within Britain's Sikh community claim they're next to invisible. Most non-Sikhs couldn't tell you the name of the religion's holy book, they claim, and there's little discussion around anti-Sikh hate crimes, or specific government initiatives to prevent Sikhs from being subjected to religiously-motivated attacks.

However, the government appears to be making its first effort at correcting this. At the end of last month, Communities Secretary Sajid Javid announced that the government would be funding a program aimed at improving "the reporting and prevention of hate crime," with a portion of the £375,000 [$468,000] grant allocated to True Vision—the police's online portal for reporting hate crimes—which aims to "encourage groups that face challenges in reporting hate crime," such as "Sikh and Hindu communities."

The move has been celebrated by Sikh groups, who believe that attacks on Sikhs are frequently ignored or misreported as anti-Islamic hate crimes.

A survey released towards the end of 2016 revealed that 20 percent of Sikhs experienced public discrimination last year. The figure is even higher for turban-wearing Sikhs, at 27 percent. In spite of this, the government's 40-page plan for preventing and dealing with hate crime, released in July of 2016, didn't contain a single reference to offenses committed against Sikhs. It didn't mention crimes against Hindus either, which has led to accusations that governmental efforts to stamp out discrimination are themselves discriminatory, neglecting non-Abrahamic faiths.

"Twenty-eight percent of victims recorded under the 'Islamophobic hate crime' category during 2015 were in fact non-Muslims."

Hardeep Singh, press secretary for the Network of Sikh Organisations (NSO), believes the fact that Sikhs and Hindus weren't included in the plan suggests that, until recently, authorities have been unconcerned about victims of anti-Sikh and anti-Hindu hate crimes. "The government has demonstrated an egregious lack of sensitivity to non-Abrahamic faiths," he says. "The taxpayer-funded projects designed to tackle bigotry simply focus on Muslims, Jews, and Christians."

In early 2016 the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) confirmed that, from April of 2017, police forces across England and Wales will have to record religious hate crimes according to religion—which may put to an end to another potential problem: that anti-Sikh hate crimes are perhaps neglected because many of them are wrongly recorded.

A Freedom of Information request submitted by the NSO revealed that 28 percent of victims recorded under the "Islamophobic hate crime" category during 2015 were in fact non-Muslims. "When it has been reported, the suffering of Sikhs and Hindus sadly hasn't even registered," says Hardeep. "The reality is that we face not just the backlash to Islamism, but also an age-old hatred from Muslim extremists themselves—so, if you like, it's a double whammy."

Since 9/11, both individual Sikhs and gurdwaras have regularly been on the receiving end of attacks by people who have mistaken them for Muslims and mosques, respectively. There have been numerous high-profile incidents in the media, notably the attempted beheading of Sikh dentist Dr. Sarandev Bhambra in a Welsh supermarket in 2015. The perpetrator shouted "I did it for Lee Rigby" after hacking at his victim with a machete, suggesting he thought Dr. Bhambra was a Muslim and that he was exacting vengeance for acts of terrorism. The attacker was convicted of Dr. Bhambra's attempted murder and jailed for a minimum of 14 years.

Jagdeesh Singh

There was also the case of Jagdeesh Singh, who in 2004 was repeatedly punched in the face while walking home with his ten-year-old nephew in Coventry. His assailant bombarded him with Islamophobic abuse during the attack, accusing him of being a terrorist and calling him Bin Laden. Jagdeesh believes that incidents of this nature are partly due to government narratives about British Asians that center upon Islam, and exclude Sikhs and Hindus. He claims that this has led to a situation in which the British public view anyone with brown skin as Muslim.

"We've been placed in the blanket category of 'Asian,' and whenever there's a perceived problem within the Pakistani community or a perceived problem within a particular community, they don't say the specific community; they just use the blanket term 'Asian,'" he says. "What we want is an equal and comprehensive policy and approach to all forms of hate crime, where Sikhs and non-Sikhs are equally protected and safeguarded, and hate crimes against us are recognized. We don't get that, because every time there's a home affairs select committee inquiry, it's never about Sikhs. It's always about other religions."

These sentiments are echoed by Phaldip Singh, another victim of an anti-Sikh hate crime. Towards the end of 2015 he was on the receiving end of an unprovoked attack in Birmingham city centre, in which he was shoved aggressively and verbally abused by a group of up to eight men. The offence took place in the early evening in a crowded area. "I think wherever you go, it's always about the Abrahamic faiths," he says. "It's as if no one else exists in the world."

Phaldip believes that the government's neglect of such crimes might stem from an underestimation of the problem due to so many attacks being mis-recorded. "If they're just labeling things as Islamic hate crimes and not specifically crimes that are targeted towards Sikhs, then there won't be any statistics, and without those statistics, they can't do anything about it," he says.

Phaldip Singh

There is also the theory that the lack of representation of Sikhs in hate crime statistics has its roots in public organizations' failure to acknowledge their status as an ethnic group as well as a religion. In 1983, the Commission for Racial Equality launched a successful racial discrimination case on behalf of the father of a Sikh boy who had been denied entry to a school because of his turban and uncut hair. Sikhs wear turbans to represent piety, spirituality, courage, self-respect, and honor, and allow their hair to grow to symbolize devotion to God. The result of the case cemented Sikhs' legal status as a race as opposed to merely a religion. However, in practice, they're typically simply viewed as Asian, which means there are no official government records of how many Sikhs are the victims of racially-motivated anti-Sikh offenses.

Gurjeet Singh of the Sikh Federation believes that faith-based monitoring is extremely limited compared to the degree to which organizations record the race of those they deal with. He claims that this is to blame for the government's lack of awareness around the extent of attacks against Sikhs.

This new funding program and the changes to how police record religious hate crimes are both positive signs, but relative to the problem it's only a small step in the right direction. A share of £375,000 isn't a huge amount, in the grand scheme of things. And as Phaldip Singh pointed out, it's not until campaigners are armed with statistics that they can properly make a case, and it'll be at least another calendar year after the police's recording changes are implemented in April before an annual report can be drawn up.

"Whether you see Sikhs as a religion or an ethnic group, there's a clear and tragic failure at the highest governmental level to recognize us as a distinct group and recognize that we're vulnerable," says Jagdeesh. "Isn't it time that changed?"

Follow Nick Chester on Twitter.

Anger and Tears at Toronto’s Rally Against Trump’s Travel Ban

On Saturday in Toronto, thousands of people crowded into the streets to protest President Donald Trump's travel restrictions on Muslim people entering the United States. Protesters locked arms, chanted, and held words of resistance high.

Poets, Holocaust survivors, Iranians, Somalis, Muslims and Muslimahs, black men and women all came together to speak their truth against white supremacy and Islamophobia. Heads bowed and tears flowed as one speaker read the names of the Quebec City mosque shooting victims over a microphone, sending a chill through the streets.

Follow Yasin Osman on Twitter.

American Muslims Worry the Worst Is Yet to Come

The only memories Alaa Amora has of his childhood in southern Iraq are of roaring airplanes and deafening bombs. He came to the United States in 1995 as a refugee along with his family, but says he always felt welcome—until Donald Trump came on the political scene.

"I love this country. I wouldn't want to go to any other country besides this, but it's starting to get scary," Amora, now 32, told me before pausing to help a customer pick out new cell phone in his Dearborn, Michigan, electronics store.

"This is my business," he said, gesturing towards displays of jeweled phone cases and shelves of flatscreen TVs. "Without coming here, without America welcoming me to this beautiful place, where would I be right now? I would probably either be dead, locked up somewhere for no reason, or just worrying about when the next bomb is going to fall on my head."

It was Trump's campaign trail call to ban Muslims from entering the country made him begin to feel that he didn't belong.

For years, Amora told me, he and his extended family have taken a summer trip to upper Michigan. Although that part of the state is far less diverse than his hometown of Dearborn (which has a large Muslim population and is sometimes the subject of right-wing conspiracy theories), they were always treated with the warmth typical of the American Midwest.

When Amoraand his relatives boarded a ferry to take them to the old-timey resort town of Mackinac Island last summer, however, he said, "Everyone on that boat stared us down as if we were about to sink the ship on them."

Amora blames what he sees as rising anti-Muslim sentiment on how Trump's executive order singled out people from Muslim-majority countries "to protect the American people from terrorist attacks," to quote the order.

"When you have the president of the greatest country in the world saying that Muslims are terrorists, a lot of people are going to believe him," Amora said.

Jeanon Jawech has the same fears. "This is just going to fuse more [bias]," the 19-year-old college student said of Trump's executive order after a demonstration against it at the Detroit Metro Airport.

Her mother Nala Jawech, an immigrant from Syria, agreed. "To target Muslims directly, it's something dangerous. They judge all the majority for a small number and that's what's scary," she told me.  Both women wear hijab and are worried about becoming the targets of Islamophobic attacks.

In the aftermath of Trump's election, Muslims across the country have come under attack. The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) compiled a list of 867 hate incidents in the ten days after Trump's victory. There was a 67 percent year-over-year increase in hate crimes against Muslims reported to the FBI in 2015, the year when Trump—then just a Republican presidential candidate—first called for "total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States."  

Many experts have attributed a rise in hate crimes against Muslims to Trump's vitriolic comments, among other examples of Islamophobic rhetoric. "We're seeing these stereotypes and derogative statements become part of the political discourse," Brian Levin, the director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism told the New York Times in September. "The bottom line is we're talking about a significant increase in these types of hate crimes."

Trump has never explicitly endorsed anti-Muslim violence, and when asked about the harassment immediately after his victory, he said he wanted the perpetrators to "stop it."

But during the campaign he supported a variety of extreme, seemingly Constitution-defying policies, including the surveillance of mosques and the creation of a database of Muslims. Friday's order, while maybe not as outlandish as those ideas, was certainly of a piece with them.

According to Kevin R. Johnson, author of The Huddled Masses Myth, exclusionary policies barring certain groups of would-be immigrants have led to further discriminatory policies and actions against members of those groups within the US.  

"When the government is saying we gotta get rid of these—whatever group you want to say—it is an important signal to people in those groups [in the US] what their worth is and how much they're desired," Johnson told me. When certain types of people are singled out by immigration policy, members of that group who are in the US often suffer as well. Johnson said the phenomenon is "one of the ripple effects that isn't often paid attention to" but a consequence has been borne out by history.

Passed in 1882, the Chinese Exclusion Act was the first significant immigration policy to ban a specific group of people. Its ban on Chinese workers led to a series of laws barring people of Chinese origin in the US from working in certain industries or owning land.

"There was rampant discrimination in employment and discrimination against Chinese businesses and none of it went checked by government," Johnson said. Similarly, he added, policies singling out Muslim immigrants could lead to discrimination against Muslims in America. "Minority groups… understand that the immigration debate, even if they're citizens, even if they're born and raised here, at some level it's about them and people like them," he said.

Alaa Amora now fears discrimination and violence in his adopted country so acutely that he's considering buying guns for his wife and sisters so that they can defend themselves if they're attacked because their headscarves mark them as Muslims.

"I'm really starting to think about it because they go out shopping by themselves," he told me. "I'm really scared for them now."

Beenish Ahmed is a reporter, writer, and the founder of THE ALIGNIST. Follow her on Twitter.