Statement by Scarborough Centre MP Salma Zahid
I am pleased to report that, on Monday, April 29th, an updated version of the 2018 Public Terror Threat Report was released by Public Safety Canada, following concerns with the original language raised by myself and other members of the Muslim community.
When the original report was tabled in December, I immediately raised with Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale and his officials my concerns that the language in the report unfairly stigmatized Canada’s Muslim community and other racialized minority groups with language that is not helpful to uniting Canadians and instead brings suspicion and fear to average Canadians just trying to live their lives.
As I said in my statement on the report in December 2018, by using vague and unclear terms such as Islamist, Shia and Sunni extremism, the report falsely gives credence to terrorist groups that claim to be inspired by religion, when nothing could be further from the truth. While many that have sought to commit violence over the years have claimed religious inspiration, the fact is no religion sanctions acts of violence and the use of such terms unfairly maligns its peaceful followers.
Minister Goodale and his officials were responsive to my concerns and those of the Muslim community, and today’s report reflects our advice and feedback.
The department conducted a thorough review of the language used in the 2018 Public Terror Threat Report to describe extremism. The Minister’s direction was that the Government’s communication of threats must be clear, concise, and cannot be perceived as maligning any groups. And when outlining a threat, it must be clearly linked to an ideology rather than a community.
Following this review, the terms “Shia,” “Sunni,” and “Islamist” have been removed from the report and, where appropriate – have been replaced with language that focuses on the intent or ideology and not on a religion or specific community.
I am also pleased to note that the concerns raised by the Sikh community regarding the use of terms such as “Sikh extremism” has also been addressed.
I want to thank Minister Goodale and his officials for taking our concerns seriously, and for taking action. Canadian Muslims are proud Canadians who love their country and want to contribute to and share in its security, prosperity and success.