With ‘friends’ like these, Muslim Canadians don’t need enemies

Sarah Teich receiving gift from World Ugyhur Congress president and Uyghur Rights Advocacy project Executive Director Mehmet Tohti

Liberal MP Sameer Zuberi, Justice For All Canada and the National Council of Canadian Muslims should ask themselves why prominent anti-Muslim and anti-Palestinian Canadians are central players in the Uyghur cause. Their involvement highlights how Canadians criticizing China’s treatment of Muslims serves the US empire.

Recently, the Globe and Mail reported on the role anti-Muslim individuals are playing in a complaint to the Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise (CORE) regarding Uyghur rights. Recently Ombudsperson Sheri Meyerhoffer announced her office was investigating Nike and Dynasty Gold for their links to forced labour in Xinjiang province.

In a sign of how Muslim rights in China are instrumentalized to serve the US empire, David Matas and Sarah Teich are lead counsel for the complainants. Matas has been a lawyer for the anti-Palestinian, anti-Muslim, B’nai Brith for decades. In The Canadian Islamophobia Industry: Mapping Islamophobia’s Ecosystem in the Great White North Wilfred Laurier University Professor Jasmin Zine devotes a section to B’nai Brith while Stephen Ellis documents some of the deeply anti-Palestinian group’s anti-Muslim positions in “Tracking the malignant racism of B’nai Brith Canada”.

As B’nai Brith senior legal counsel, Matas openly aligned with the xenophobic backlash against the term “Islamophobia in bill M-103, which called for collecting data on hate crimes and studying the issue of “eliminating systemic racism and religious discrimination including Islamophobia.” Among a number of public interventions, Matas told a 2017 parliamentary committee, “Adherents to some components of Islam (imagine the reaction if someone said Judaism) preach hatred and terrorism, incite to hatred and terrorism and engage in hate-motivated acts and terrorist crimes.” He called on the committee to “focus both on those victimized by Islamophobia (antisemitism) and on the incitement and acts of hatred and terrorism, which come from within elements of the Islamic (Jewish) community.”

According to a 2022 Times of Israel profile, Teich claims to have been the first to launch a legal battle over Uyghur discrimination in Canadian courts. She has represented the Uyghur Rights Advocacy Project in its push to have the government presumptively ban imports from Xinjiang on the grounds the goods may be made using forced labour.

Teich has a degree in “Counter-Terrorism” from Israel’s Reichman University and is legal advisor to the ‘Muslim terror’ hyping Canadian Coalition Against Terror.

In 2021 Teich and Matas co-published “Trivializing apartheid to attack Israel”. A response to the Human Rights Watch report “A Threshold Crossed: Israeli Authorities and the Crimes of Apartheid and Persecution” the two Uyghur activists argue that the Washington-aligned rights group “victimizes the true victims of apartheid a second time, through distorting the memory of apartheid.” Notwithstanding their pompous line of argumentation, a slew of Black South African anti-apartheid figures — from foreign minister Naledi Pandor to Desmond Tutu — have said Israel is committing the crime of apartheid.

Another white Canadian involved in Uyghur activism who has employed this condescending line of argumentation is Irwin Cotler. His Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights co-signed the complaint to the Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise to investigate Nike and Dynasty Gold. Days after an entire Muslim family was killed in a hate crime in London, Ontario, two years ago Canada’s special envoy on antisemitism retweeted a Toronto Sun article headlined, “There is no islamophobia in Canada.” Cotler later deleted it and apologized. But, as part of his defence of Israel’s subjugation of Palestinians, Cotler has repeatedly hyped Islamic terror.

Zuberi, Justice for All and the National Council of Canadian Muslims should ask why these anti-Muslim, anti-Palestinian figures are involved in Uyghur campaigning. There are numerous other signs that Uyghur campaigning is deeply tied into the US empire. After its creation The Uyghur Rights Advocacy Project website openly stated that the Uyghur Rights Advocacy Project was funded by the Washington-based National Endowment Fund for Democracy for its advocacy work. Basically, the US government pays for Canada’s main Uyghur group to lobby Parliament. It’s one of many international Uyghur groups funded by Washington.

In January 2021 US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo labeled China’s treatment of Uyghurs a “genocide”. A staunch Catholic, Pompeo is known for anti-Muslim comments and associations. Former director of the State Department’s Office of Religion and Global Affairs, Shaun Casey, criticized Pompeo’s “horrific, inaccurate, bigoted statements and associations vis-à-vis Muslims around the world.” Pompeo has also advocated invading and bombing multiple majority Muslim countries.

Adrian Zenz is the initial source of research claiming Uyghurs were being held in internment camps. Employed by the US-government-established Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, Zenz has been described as a “German fundamentalist Christian zealot”.

The truth is individuals and groups with a long history of anti-Muslim positions are at the centre of the Uyghur campaign. Challenging China’s treatment of Muslims in North America strengthens the US empire’s bid to contain a “peer competitor”. Is being used to this end really in the interest of Canadian Muslims and their organizations?

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