Newly appointed Special Representative on Islamophobia has to apologize for pointing out Islamophobia.
The Trudeau government fulfilled its promise of naming a special representative to combat Islamophobia after 18 months. However, the appointment of Amira Elghawaby turned controversial in just 24 hours. The government announced her appointment last Thursday, days before the anniversary of the Quebec City mosque massacre.
Amira Elghawaby is a well-deserved and excellent choice for the role. She has been vocal in her opposition to Quebec's Bill 21, a discriminatory law that prohibits individuals wearing religious symbols from holding certain government positions. The appointment was met with outrage in Quebec, as La Presse reported that Trudeau appointed someone who portrays Quebecers as anti-Muslim.
A federal Liberal minister and Trudeau himself called for Elghawaby to explain her comments. By Monday, the Quebec government was demanding her resignation. Conservative Pierre Poilievre also attacked Trudeau for appointing someone he referred to as anti-Quebec, anti-Jewish, and anti-police.
The article that led to the controversy was co-written by Elghawaby and Bernie Farber in 2019 for the Ottawa Citizen. The article cited a poll showing that 88% of Quebecers with anti-Muslim views supported Bill 21 and suggested that most Quebecers were swayed by anti-Muslim sentiment. The article decries the tyranny of the majority and appeals for basic human rights and dignity for all.
Elghawaby's appointment was welcomed by the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs and Canada's special representative on antisemitism, Irwin Cotler. Her human-rights activism challenges Canadian complacency, making her the perfect candidate to serve as a champion, adviser, expert, and representative on fighting anti-Muslim hatred.
Critics argue that her appointment is divisive, citing the reaction in Quebec. However, the controversy highlights the need for a national representative to confront Islamophobia, especially in Quebec, where issues of religious tolerance and minorities are particularly problematic.
The prime minister announced that he was satisfied with Elghawaby's explanation and that she will remain in her position, which is the right decision. The uproar over her appointment is the best possible evidence of the need for someone like her in the job.