“Breaking! A law just passed in Canada that targets those who badmouth about Muslims. Anyone making any negative comments about Muslims is considered a federal felony, which may lead to jail terms!”
The article with the above headline was about M-103, an anti-Islamophobia motion that House of Commons passed last Friday condemning religious discrimination. “What the motion means is that you cannot badmouth Muslims in Canada or discriminate against them,” the article says. “If you did, you have committed a crime and may face prison terms!”
The article has instantly gone viral on Chinese social media WeChat, attracting a flood of visitors and eliciting a record number of hits. In a bid to make it sound more convincing and authoritative, the article has included an authentic quote from Iqra Khalid, the Liberal MP who proposed the motion as well as the voting information on how the motion was passed in the parliament.
Some extreme comments in response to the article also put the Liberal and Conservative MPs with Chinese heritage who voted in favor of the motion in crosshairs, accusing them of betraying the Chinese community.
With a very low level of interest in politics, many Chinese Canadians generally hold an “I couldn’t care less” attitude towards Parliament motions. It seems quite odd that M-103 can spark such a heated response from the Chinese social media.
At a time when fake news floods the news media, reliable and accurate information is difficult to come by. The truth is that M103 is only a non-binding motion that is not classified as a law and has no effect on the current criminal system. Amid widespread anti-Muslim sentiment, the motion aims at reducing the level of fear against Islam in Canada, highlighting Liberals’ ideology of valuing cultural diversity. But the motion cannot be used to criminally convict anti-Muslim activities or sentence those making Islamophobia comments to jail.
实际上，许多加国人士都认为该动议毫无作用，或是怀疑它是否具有任何影响力。Angus Reid Institute最近对1,511名加国人士进行的调查发现，有31%受访者认为该项仅具象征意义的动议虽值得通过，“但其并不会带来任何实际影响”；有26%的人则认为“该动议毫无意义，完全是浪费时间，根本不值得通过。”
In fact, many Canadians believe that the motion may not achieve anything, or are skeptical whether it will have any effect. According to the latest Angus Reid Institute poll of 1,511 Canadians, 31 per cent say it’s worth passing for symbolic reasons “but It won’t have any real impact,” and 26 per cent say it’s “not worth passing because it won’t do anything and so it’s a waste of time.
This callous attitude of Canadians towards the motion was a stark contrast to the fierce reaction from the Chinese community members, thanks to these sensational news stories and the extreme comments. Apparently, the stories with distorted facts have tapped into a strong stereotype held by the community that most Muslims are terrorists and war criminals.
Some follow-up posts have done the best job in further fuel the sentiment:
“It seems that Muslims try to control the Canadian government, which is very scary. Now Muslims have set their sight on this peaceful and beautiful country Canada, trying to send the country on a path to the future war and crisis currently engulfing the Middle East!”
The biased information has also appealed into the fear from community members who assume that the government has the ultimate control over citizens’ lives, just like the authorities in their home country that has the power to jail dissidents – including human rights lawyers -- without resorting to laws and regulations.
But in the end, it was the political naivety of the community that has resulted in a flood of members falling into the media propaganda. These story manipulators have also taken advantage of the fact that the community members lack critical thinking skills, showing a minimum level of political knowledge and the ability to tell facts from hypes, and truth from lies.
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