Terrorism Act in Canada
The impact of the Anti-Terrorism Act on the Muslims and Arabs in Canada The Anti-terrorism Act in Canada and its effects on the Muslim and Arabic communities September 11, 2001 marked a catastrophic change not only in American society but in every western state including Canada. The terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon have had a ripple effect, spreading to the entire world and terrifying thousands of people. Following these attacks, world populations were devastated and governments faced a never-before seen need to make laws governing this new form of terror.Countries like the United States of America, United Kingdom, and Canada have passed anti-terrorism legislations that define “terrorism” and how to respond and prevent such attacks. Generally speaking, some scholars and ordinary individuals argue that the new anti-terrorism Act in Canada may aim to combat terrorism but it also violates the rights of certain individuals. The new Act gave the authorities especially the police task forces the power to investigate suspect terrorist cases without worrying about the charter of rights and freedoms.
This ends with the question of security of state versus the rights of individuals.They argue that the shock and the disbelief that infected the Canadian Government after the September attacks to take a fast and effective legislation to protect the country from a prospective threat, “pushed the government to implement the Bill C-36 that was turned to be the Anti-terrorism Act in four months only after the September Attacks without thinking about the consequences of this new law. ” (Andreychuk) Firstly we should know what is the Bill C-36 or the Anti-Terrorism Act to examine whether or not it affected some minorities in Canada.As stated above, the Bill C-36 was a quick response to the September Attacks in the USA. Bill C-36 was first introduced in the House of Commons by Justice Minister Anne McLellan on 15 October 2001. The Bill defines “terrorist activity” as an act that is committed “in whole or in part for a political, religious, or ideological purpose, objective, or cause. ” (Mazer).
The new Act gave the investigative branch of the police and the CSIS more powers to investigate the very private details of the lives of the suspect terrorists.Also the act put more restrictions on the immigration policies as well as the security measurements in the airports and the borders as well as the seaports during the amending of existing Act like information security Act (Carter). In addition to these new restrictions, the accused person has no right to see or to know the evidence which the government has against him. Even when the Act was amended in 2008, the only person who can see a summary of the evidence is a lawyer who was appointed by the government and he can’t shoe this evidence to the accused.From the practical point of view, the most minorities in Canada to be affected by these new measurements are the Muslim minority in particular and the Arabic minority in general. The inclusion of religion as a motive for ‘terrorist activity’ within the Act may cast a pall over one’s faith. The Muslim and Arab communities of Canada have already expressed that many of their members consider that they have fallen victims to racial or cultural discrimination because of the Act.
We can say that the bad luck has accompanied the Muslims in this issue.Currently and unfortunately all the terrorists are coming from an Islamic background like Afghanistan, Pakistan or Chechnya. This forced not only our government but also most of the government in the world to link terrorism to Islam as a religion. The government will not stay silent until a big disaster happens as in the case of September attacks, London attacks as well as Madrid attacks. If we look at the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, we may find some sections that have been violated by the new Terrorism Act. Sections eight to fourteen have been extremely infringed after the attacks.Thousands of individuals have been seized in a way that violates the charter.
Another shift that happened to our tolerant society is that the supreme court of Canada has shifted the nature of its rulings regarding the infringement of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. “There has been a clear change of mind, within the Court, regarding the authority of international human rights law, at least where highly sensitive security matters are involved, such as deportation of political refugees suspected of being linked with terrorist organisations. ” (Coutu & Giroux)The party that argues that the Muslims and Arabs have been affected negatively by the Anti-terrorism Act might prove their argument by comparing it with the American Patriot Act which was the American anti-terrorism act. In the American version of the anti-terrorism legislation it condemned any discrimination against Arab Americans, Muslim Americans and Americans from south Asia and affirmed that “the concept of individual responsibility for wrongdoing is sacrosanct in American society and applies equally to all religions, racial and ethnic groups”( Roach 72) . If we read our Anti-terrorism Act we won’t find such a clarification.But from a practical point of view, this clarification didn’t immune the Muslims in the USA from profiling but at least it affirmed the principle of equality. On the other hand there is another party that advocates that agrees with the anti-terrorism Act and denies that it is targeting the Muslim and Arabic minorities in Canada.
On the other hand, we can’t blame the government for such actions, whether or not that the religion is the driving force to these kinds of attacks. The government is working hard to ensure that the Canadian nation live in a secure and stable climate so that we can maintain our economic supremacy.Also it is working hard to ensure that the history will not blame it for neglecting national security issues like terrorism. From this perspective the government had this kind of response to the September cowardly attacks. The other counter party argue that the Arabic and the Islamic communities are not under persecution or any kind of discrimination according to religion or origin. They argue that these new Anti-terrorism Act is applied on every Canadian citizen whether he is Muslim, Christian, Jewish or any religious background.It is applied on every citizen regardless of his ethnic background whether he is polish, Scottish, Arabic or French.
In the airports the safeguards don’t ask the passengers about their religion or ethnic background if they are travelling from Canada but the passengers who are coming to Canada from suspicious countries, that help the terrorist organizations or have this kind of organizations on their lands such as: Pakistan, Afghanistan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Yemen, the government tends to have more restrictive laws regarding them because they are the most likely individuals to be terrorists.It is important to mention that the government of Canada put three justifications to the new Act when it was introduced. Firstly, the Anti-terrorism act is in compliance with the charter of rights and freedoms. Secondly, the current criminal law is deficient in protecting the national security of Canada from similar attacks to those ones that happened in the US. Finally, the new act enhances the charter values. I’ll go over each one of them briefly. Firstly, the government argued that the criminal law was inefficient in keeping the Canadian territories safe from future terrorist attacks.
They argued that the police forces don’t have the required tools to prevent Canada’s own September 11 so there was an urgent necessity to give the police force and the CSIS these tools to do their job to protect our country. Secondly the government argued that the new Act didn’t violate the human rights stated in the charter. The minister of justice stated that “the act was subject to a very thorough review on Charter ground and that its measures have been designed so they will respect the values of the charter, and, we expect, survive legal challenges” (Roach 75).Thirdly, the government argued that the new Act didn’t not only violate the charter rights but it did enhance these rights as well. The government argued that the new Act embodied new provisions regarding hate crime propaganda against any religious minority in Canada. The government officials were aware of the Tsunami of hate propaganda and crimes that will be resulted after the September attacks against Muslims and Arabic minorities that’s why the new Act was popular and it has been supported by a lot of people who were worried about the hate crimes.Also the Act allowed the deletion of any content on internet that might refer to be hate propaganda against Islam.
In same time the government argued that the Act promoted the value of equality between the individuals because the law is applicable to everyone in the country. Finally it is clear that the Anti-terrorism Act or Bill c-36 has been criticized and debated from every level in the society from the ordinary individuals who are saying that the Act violated the rights and freedoms of Muslim and Arabic minorities in Canada, to our government which is defending the new Act.In my personal opinion, the government is free to pass laws and legislations to protect our national security because if any terrorist attack happened, every on in the country will blame the government from not preventing the great loss in lives and money. But it is important to say the government should try to balance those laws with our own freedoms and regulations as long as our national security is protected. In same time, I see that Muslim and Arabic minorities are not affected badly by this law because this law is applied to all Canadians not Muslims only.