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Harper’s Discrimination Against Syrian Muslim Refugees
Clubs, Politics, Vancouver

In their article titled, “Forget labels when we witness such dire human need,” Amira Elhawaby and Bernie Farber write, “The Canadian government has explicitly stated its intent to grant refuge to religious minorities fleeing Syria, contrary to international norms that assess refugees primarily on the basis of need.”
This policy was adopted after Jason Kenny misinformed his conservative base about the Syrian refugees. In an email dated, January 21, 2015, Kenny writes,
“Dear friend, The Liberal and NDP parties, together with special interest groups, are outrageously attacking our government for focusing our refugee protection efforts on persecuted religious minorities.”
“I have been to refugee camps in Syria, Turkey, and Lebanon. The scale of the humanitarian disaster there is heart-breaking. However, Canada obviously cannot solve this humanitarian crisis by resettling hundreds of thousands of refugees to our country. We can only help a relatively small number in this way. I believe it makes sense to focus these efforts on those who are particularly vulnerable, which includes the persecuted minority communities like Syrian and Iraqi Christians who have been bombed out of their homes by jihadi terrorists, and who often face further danger in refugee camps.”
Indeed, this is an untruthful statement to justify discrimination against Muslim Syrian refugees in need of our help. Choosing refugees not based on their needs but their religion is a violation of the spirit of the Canadian law and the essence of our values. Eventually, Harper has been discriminating against not only Muslim refugees, but also Muslims’ immigration.
History shows that in Syria, Muslims have been more vulnerable to prosecution than minorities by the Assad regime and now by ISIS. This is shown by the number of Syrian refugees that amounts to more than 7.6 million internally displaced and 6 million registered refugees, 90% of them are Muslims. Among those refugees, more than 2 million are children. Most of them may not survive the war, and are in dire need for our help. Alan Kurdi and his brother, who were not lucky enough to survive the war, are an illustration of how this war does not discriminate between Muslims and non-Muslims.
Under Assad’s rule, persecuted religious groups in Syria are not Christians and other minorities, but Sunni Muslims whom Assad’s minority religious group (Alawis) discriminated against and prosecuted. His family has a history of aggression against this sect. In August 1980, his father, Hafez Al-Assad, destroyed Aleppo, killed more than 5,000 Sunni Muslims, and arrested more than 10,000.
After 9/11 attack, Bashar al-Assad was used to torture Sunni Muslims sent to him by the CIA under U.S. the Rendition Program. One of the well-known victims was Maher Arar who was illegally arrested by the FBI based on a tip from the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) and was flown to Syria where he was detained and tortured for a year. He was later cleared of any links to terrorism and the government of Canada settled out of court with his. He received C$10.5 million and Prime Minister Stephen Harper formally apologized to him for the government’s role in his terrible ordeal.
Harper’s decision to discriminate against Muslim refugees is racist, merciless, and hateful. It is divisive to discriminate against Muslims while we have more than one million Muslim Canadians, a high proportion of them are highly educated and occupy leading positions in businesses, governments, universities, and other institutions.
Mr. Harper’s bigotry reminds me of discrimination against Jews who sought refuge in Canada in 1939. Canada refused to take them in and the ship sailed back to Europe, where 254 would later die in concentration camps. A racist government against Canadian Muslims is not in the best interest of Canada.

UNICEF Canada, Syria: the most dangerous place to be a child. You can help