Canada’s Anti-Blasphemy Law Repealed, But M-103 Remains

2018-12-13

Canada’s anti-blasphemy law has finally been repealed. Excellent news. However, Motion M-103 which condemns “Islamophobia” remains in force.

Sommaire en français
La loi canadienne qui criminalise le blasphème est enfin abrogée. Excellente nouvelle ! Toutfois, la Motion M-103 qui condamne l’« islamophobie » demeure en vigueur.

The Canadian Senate has voted to repeal the country’s “blasphemous libel” law (Section 296 of the Criminal Code), as part of a Bill C-51 which removes outdated legislation. Earlier today (2018-12-13) the senate announced on its twitter feed that the Bill has received Royal Assent and is thus adopted. This has excellent news indeed and has been reported on a number of atheist and humanist web sites such as End Blasphemy Laws and The Friendly Atheist.

However, before breaking out the champagne, consider this. The various reports I have seen so far fail to mention an important problem: Motion M-103 remains on the books. That Motion condemns so-called “Islamophobia” and thus sets the stage for a new kind of anti-blasphemy legislation, condemning criticism of one religion, but without explicit use of the word “blasphemy.”

Although Motion M-103 does not have force of law, it is dangerous for exactly the same reason as Section 296: its international impact. Both Section 296 and Motion M-103 give countries with similar legislation a convenient excuse to continue violating human rights by pointing to Canada’s bad example. Section 296 did not, of course, have force of law outside Canada either, and even inside Canada it had not been used for decades. Nevertheless, the symbolic effect was negative. Motion M-103 continues to provide that negative example.

Furthermore, Motion M-103 is, in one sense, even worse that Section 296 in that it privileges one specific religion, giving it preferential treatment. So in addition to constituting a form of soft censorship of criticism of Islam, it will generate animosity from believers in other religions which are not so privileged. Moreover, there is a legitimate fear that in future M-103 may be followed eventually by a similar proposal, inspired by it, but having force of law.

Such accusations have precisely the same chilling effect as Motion M-103: they are a form of intimidation which stifles criticism of Islam and helps to further the agenda of political Islam.

This problem is complicated by the fact that some of the very people who applaud the repeal of Section 296 and claim to be secularists hypocritically support M-103. Even worse, some even repeat absurd accusations that to oppose M-103 is necessarily a right-wing or far-right position. Such accusations have precisely the same chilling effect as Motion M-103: they are a form of intimidation which stifles criticism of Islam and helps to further the agenda of political Islam.

Secularists must now work to repeal Motion M-103 and to prevent the Canadian parliament from adopting in the future any motion or legislation similar or worse.


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