Religious freedom is a nice idea as long as people aren’t afraid.  Fear breeds suspicion and suspicion breeds distrust and eventually hate.   LIke any fire, hate devours everything in its path.  This is also a great danger to democracy and a free society. Terrorism kindles a kind of reactionary terrorism of it’s own that does a lot of damage to the freedoms we hold dear in a democratic country.  You can’t fight terrorism with terrorism and hope to get any different results than fighting fire with fire. Yet some want to try.

Our Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees religious freedom:

Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms:
(a) freedom of conscience and religion;
(b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication;
(c) freedom of peaceful assembly; and
(d) freedom of association.

Our collective rights as Canadians are coming under attack not from ‘terrorists’ but from politicians in Quebec.  Fear and suspicion is the motivator.  Graeme Hamilton of the National Post reports:

 Up until last week, everything seemed to be proceeding smoothly for the Muslim Cultural Centre slated to open in a Shawinigan, Que. industrial park. The deadline for requesting a referendum on the necessary zoning change had passed without a single opponent coming forward, and city council was set to approve the change. The days of travelling the half-hour to Trois-Rivières for prayers were about to end for Shawinigan’s 20 Muslim families.

Then council abruptly changed course. The local newspaper Le Nouvelliste reported that there were cries of “Yes!” from members of the public when the council rejected the zoning change Feb. 10. Proponents of the mosque project who expressed their disappointment at the meeting were greeted with insults, and Mayor Michel Angers had to ask people to leave if they could not remain civil, the newspaper reported.

There was no evidence the planned centre had any link to extremists. Mr. Angers later acknowledged that the refusal to allow the zoning change was a reaction to a flood of last-minute complaints — from within Shawinigan and beyond — expressing “irrational fears” about Islamic extremism.

Graeme Hamilton: Quebec politicians playing to ‘irrational fears’ about Islamic extremism, Graeme Hamilton, February 18, 2015

The fundamental rights of Canadians are being denied on the basis of ‘no evidence’ and  ‘irrational fears’.   A decline of civility and the hurling of insults at people who have not broken any laws or disturbed the peace is the dry kindling of a a reactionary terror that is no less ugly than any other form of domestic terrorism.

The fear and suspicion will not stop at one group of people. It never does. This has not escaped the Premier of Quebec,  Graeme Hamilton continues;

Mr. Couillard has criticized Mr. Legault’s [the leader of the Coalition Avenir Québec] proposal to clamp down on speech that runs counter to Quebec values. In the National Assembly Wednesday, Mr. Couillard said Mr. Legault’s plan would affect not just mosques but churches and synagogues. “There exists in Quebec a church that does not allow women to be celebrants,” he said. “There exists in Quebec another church that says women and men must be separated in religious buildings.” He said the CAQ “really likes to talk about Muslims, but religion is a much more complex phenomenon than that.”

Graeme Hamilton concludes;

 If there is a segment of the population with reason to fear, it is the Muslims who are being told the mere act of worshipping is cause for suspicion. Instead of denouncing the insults thrown at Shawinigan Muslims last week, Mr. Legault sought to score political points by feeding the prejudice.

There have been widespread demands that Muslims and their Imams denounce the acts of terrorism that have been perpetrated on innocent people.  We should all denounce those terrible evil acts. We should also denounce all acts of terrorism including reactionary terrorism that is spawned out of people’s fears and political opportunism.

History repeats itself for those who neglect its lessons or cannot remember them.  In the past a form of domestic terrorism raged across Europe that was fed by fear and political opportunism.  Martin Niemöller famous words warn us of what may be coming;

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

 The most terrible blow that terrorism can inflict upon its victims is to warp their minds to believe that some people are more human than others and some are less human than others.  If we let fear and suspicion warp our minds to the point that  we start blaming and hurling insults at people who have done nothing wrong we dehumanize them and ourselves. When this happens the victim becomes  the tormentor and the fire of hate burns on.

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