The Global Terrorism Database is a record of over 140,000 attacks, most of which are not in Europe or North America. In Canada, terrorism has flared up in waves, each time as a result of a different group or cause. In the 1860s, it was the Fenians, a group of Irish that thought attacking Canada (then a British colony) would lead to independence from Ireland. A Fenian apparently was responsible for Canada’s first political assassination, of Member of Parliament and Father of Confederation Thomas D’Arcy McGee. In the 1960s, it was another group, the Front de libération du Québec (FLQ), seeking Québec independence initially through bombing mailboxes and the Montréal Stock Exchange, culminating in Canada’s second political assassination, of Québec Labour Minister Pierre Laporte. In the 1980s, the left-wing group the Squamish Five bombed a defence industry factory and Sikh militants bombed an Air India flight from Vancouver. In many other countries, right-wing extremism has led to massacres, such as the 79 people killed by Anders Breivik in Norway and the Oklahoma City bombing. Here in Canada, right-wing, racist extremism is targeted, resulting in over a thousand reported hate crimes per year.
The groups and causes change over the years, but the constant is that some people think violence is a way to solve their problems or effect change in the world. It is important for us to understand that they want us to be divided, to be fearful and suspicious of one another. In order to stand strong in the face of terrorism, we must stand together across race, ethnicity, language, religion, and nationality.
To those who think that the problem is Muslims, know that Muslims have actually borne the brunt of ISIS and al-Qaeda-inspired terrorism. To these groups, most Muslims are apostates, because they do not agree with the twisted brand of Islam they promote. ISIS is a group that wants to control other people, Muslims included, and they have killed more Muslims than any other religious group even though they have specifically targeted minority religious groups.
Our opponents are not people like the pregnant Muslim woman thrown to the ground in Montreal when two teenagers try to rip off her hijab. Our opponents are people who use violence to control others.
In the aftermath of the Paris attacks, a refugee camp outside Paris was attacked and burned. According to Statistics Canada, hate crimes directed against Muslims in Canada are increasing, whereas most hate crimes against other groups are declining.
I know that although many of us in Canada live in multicultural neighbourhoods where we see our neighbours as the human beings they are, there are some with limited experience with people who are different than themselves. Please do not let fear dictate your actions, or think you know a people because of what you see on TV. No matter what happens to us in Canada or around the world, we are stronger together.
And to those of our young people who are swayed by ISIS propaganda on the internet, open your eyes to see the devastation that is wrought by a hypocritical group bent on power. Know that real, positive change comes from working with others, not from dehumanizing them.