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Re:  Vandalism against Owen Sound Mosque

First of all I want to express my sympathy to the Islamic Community in Owen Sound whose mosque has being vandalized twice last week. This also has happened at a time where racist Neo Nazi stickers are found on posts around the city. These events are very upsetting and disturbing, posing real threats to targeted members of our community and need to be reflected upon within the larger context of racism in Grey Bruce and the greater world.

These racist actions are particularly alarming as they coincide with Donald Trump’s use of racist rhetoric and attacks against elected congresswomen of colour with his phrase “why don’t you just go back where you came from”.

When I found out about Trump’s new escalation of attacks on non white Americans I was again painfully reminded how local actions based on racism, intolerance and nationalistic beliefs are connected and increasingly legitimized by such behaviours on the larger world stage. History should be a warning. Hitler’s initial Anti-Semitic, discriminating, hateful and nationalistic rhetoric was not just a crazy, personal deviation from democratic, peace-oriented, civilized perspective and politics (as many try to interpret it). Large segments of theGerman population and nations around the world (including Canada) identified and / or toyed with fascist ideology.

As much as we want to believe that Grey Bruce is immune to racism and fascism we are reminded that we have our own history of such attitudes behaviours and political bravado.

We had attacks on Indigenous fishers over 20 years ago supported by elected politicians. The synagogue has been attacked many times over the last years. Indigenous people and people of colour, particularly women, regularly report racist slurs, discrimination and violence.

Trump’s choice of words reminded me particularly of our Member of Parliament who in 2015 reached national attention when he used a similar phrase telling prospective Canadian women wanting to wear a niqab at their citizenship ceremony to “stay the hell where you came from.” The most disturbing and alarming aspect of his statement was the fact that he was widely applauded for speaking his mind just as Trump continues to receive approval - mostly from white male Americans.

This form of racist violence is not only a violation of people and humanity at large, it divides people of all races and cultures as we grapple with huge issues like our climate change crisis that threatens all life on our planet as we know it. Hate against others and racist politics distract from the extremely difficult but necessary tasks that we need to tackle right now.

Many in this country share a vision for a Canada and the world that truly is based on democracy, tolerance, diversity and inclusivity where we work towards a sustainable future for all. Let's listen to their thoughts and voices.

Joachim Ostertag
Owen Sound

image: License: Creative Commons 3 - CC BY-SA 3.0 Attribution: ImageCreator - http://www.imagecreator.co.uk/ Original Author: Nick Youngson - http://www.nyphotographic.com/






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