Canadian official slams an increasingly Islamophobic Canada

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SHAFAQNA – In a dramatic speech Tuesday evening, the leader of Canada’s Liberal Party Justin Trudeau criticized the Canadian government for its rhetoric over the threat of Islamist-related terrorism – and compared the country’s treatment of its Muslims minorities with the restrictive policies against Jews prior to and during World War II.

Speaking in Toronto to alumni of McGill University, Trudeau, who will compete with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper in an election later this year, discussed Canada’s idea of liberty. At one point, he listed a number of historical moments when his country had failed in that ideal, including the Chinese head tax (a fixed fee given to every Chinese immigrant) and the internment of Ukrainian, Japanese and Italian Canadians during the world wars.

“When I talk to young people today about these episodes, they can hardly believe they happened. It doesn’t sound possible, not in Canada,” Trudeau told his audience. “So we should all shudder to hear the same rhetoric that led to a ‘none is too many’ immigration policy toward Jews in the 30s and 40s, being used to raise fears against Muslims today.”

Canada’s legacy of turning away Jewish refugees before and during World War II has become a source of shame for the country – Trudeau’s speech references the book “None is Too Many: Canada and the Jews of Europe 1933-1948” which documented how Canada did less that other Western countries for Europe’s Jews during this period, allowing only 5,000 Jewish refugees to enter the country.

The title of that book is itself a reference to an anecdotal comment by an immigration agency when asked how many Jews would be allowed into Canada after the war. Other stories of Canadian indifference to the Jewish plight abound. In one remarkable case, Canada turned away the St. Louis, a German ocean liner, carrying 907 European Jews. Those Jews later returned to Europe, where 254 are thought to have died in concentration camps. Some German and Austrian Jews were interned in Canada during World War II, accused of being “enemy aliens.”

In recent years, there has been a surge in immigrants from Muslim countries to Canada: 2011’s National Household Survey found that there were over 1 million Muslims in Canada, over twice the number of Jews in the country and 3.2 percent of the total population (for comparison, in the United States, Muslims make up less than 1 percent of the population). A Pew Research Center estimate from the same year found that the population would surge to 2.6 million by 2030, a projected percentage increase of 183 percent.

The title of that book is itself a reference to an anecdotal comment by an immigration agency when asked how many Jews would be allowed into Canada after the war. Other stories of Canadian indifference to the Jewish plight abound. In one remarkable case, Canada turned away the St. Louis, a German ocean liner, carrying 907 European Jews. Those Jews later returned to Europe, where 254 are thought to have died in concentration camps. Some German and Austrian Jews were interned in Canada during World War II, accused of being “enemy aliens.”

In recent years, there has been a surge in immigrants from Muslim countries to Canada: 2011’s National Household Survey found that there were over 1 million Muslims in Canada, over twice the number of Jews in the country and 3.2 percent of the total population (for comparison, in the United States, Muslims make up less than 1 percent of the population). A Pew Research Center estimate from the same year found that the population would surge to 2.6 million by 2030, a projected percentage increase of 183 percent.

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