Violence is not the answer

I speak out here about the violence and injustice and abuses committed in the name of religion. Those things are abhorrent. But violence should never be on the table as a response. Unless, that is, you are actively defending yourself or others from  immediate danger, threats of violence and violent actions are never appropriate. Especially here, where freedom of speech is still ingrained in our society.

However, in ‘peaceful’ PEI, some people just don’t get the message.

A third threatening act at a mosque in Charlottetown has rattled the Muslim community.

“It is upsetting,’’ said Zain Esseghaier, spokesperson for the Muslim Society of P.E.I.

“People were upset. People were concerned. People were wondering why this is happening to a place of worship…we don’t understand why we are being attacked basically.’’

On Thursday morning, a bottle containing gasoline was found on the front doorsteps of the Masjid Dar As-Salam Mosque along with posters containing the threatening message “Defeat Jihad’’.

Esseghaier says mosque members chose to remain quiet about two previous disturbing incidents to avoid possibly creating a commotion.

During the early stages of construction of the first stand-alone mosque in P.E.I., which opened in July, the head of a pig was nailed to a post.

A couple months ago, a truck belonging to a contractor was completely torched.

There are aspects of the religion of Islam that need to exposed.  The actions of some Muslims in some parts of the world need to be condemned. In some parts of the world, armed rebellion may be the only way to fight for freedom from tyranny. Here in Canada, the appropriate means of spreading messages are debate, political action, and perhaps civil disobedience.

Advertisements for PEI have spread the word that we are a ‘friendly island”, but xenophobia has a long history on  PEI, just as it does in many small isolated communities. We even have a term “Come from aways” (CFAs) to refer to those who have moved here even from other parts of Atlantic Canada. The result has been that some people have found it difficult to feel accepted into the community. As we become more and more cosmopolitan, these attitudes are slowly disappearing. But they aren’t gone yet. Even so, I are still referring to some people, and not a province-wide attitude, and actual threats and violence were never part of the mix.

So I have a message to the perpetrators of these attacks. Come forward. Speak out about the injustices you see in the Muslim world, or against the individuals you dislike. But keep your pigs and your firebombs away from the Mosque. If you really had the courage of your convictions, you would put your name and your rationale to your actions; you would campaign politically or write letters; but you would be out in the open.

This is bullying and cowardice at its worst.



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