Mr. Tabe-Mohammadi, Learn More About Islamophobia
Updated: Apr 24, 2019
In recent weeks Shahram Tabe Mohammadi, columnist at Shahrvand Publication, sent a letter from his lawyer to the volunteers at the Iranian Canadian Journal (IC Journal) threatening legal action because in a report published about him he was called out on the Islamophobic comments he has made in his articles in Shahrvand. The Editors at IC Journal have already responded to his baseless threats but the aim of this article is to explore the Islamophobic nature of comments that he regularly makes in his writings for Shahrvand.
First, let’s explore the definition of Islamophobia. The Ontario Human Rights Commission has provided a definition for Islamophobia as following:
“Stereotypes, bias or acts of hostility towards individual Muslims or followers of Islam in general...any ideology or pattern of thought and/or behaviour in which [Muslims] are excluded from positions, rights, possibilities in (parts of) society because of their believed or actual Islamic background.”
For the purpose of this article let’s only focus on two recent articles Shahram Tabe-Mohammadi wrote for Shahrvand. In his article published in May 2018 he wrote:
Here is the translation of the text: “Saman Tabasinejad’s public support for the policies of the Islamic Republic and her support for the regime create concerns and doubts that in case she enters the Ontario Parliament her work will be detrimental to the interests of Iranian-Canadians. For example, she might bring up topics such as recognizing the Sharia law in Ontario, which was brought up in Ontario a couple of years ago.”
The statement above is not only Islamophobic based on any definition you look at but also false and misleading. Saman was the only Muslim candidate in Willowdale in the last Ontario provincial election but she has never expressed support for any foreign government. Indeed, like many other progressive Canadian activists she has proudly supported and advocated for peace with Iran. Saman has also never supported or even talked about Sharia in Ontario. Mr. Tabe Mohammadi’s statement demonizes the only Muslim candidate and a young Canadian woman in that election by suggesting that she has ulterior motives for running in the Ontario elections.
In another article titled “My Sister, Obey the Hijab” or in Farsi “خواهرم حجابت را رعایت کن” published in April 2018 Shahram Tabe-Mohammadi outlined his case for supporting 4 specific candidates (under the campaign name of ICC4ALL) for the board of directors of the Iranian Canadian Congress (ICC). However, instead of explaining his reasoning to support those 4 candidates he went and attacked the candidates he did not support labeling them as “losers who did not achieve their objectives in the 2009 Green Movement in Iran and gave up on the fight [for democracy] as a result of their loss”. In another part he said that if the candidates he opposed would be elected to the ICC board they would organize “morality police and force Iranian women in Toronto to wear Hijab”!
While at first his comments might sound laughable, Tabe-Mohammadi is serious and he knows that he can rally and excite his base and readers of Shahrvand magazine with this nonsense. The problem with Tabe-Mohammadi’s writing becomes more clear when you realize that among the candidates he opposed and defamed there were young practicing Iranian-Canadian Muslims. Yet, none of them have ever expressed any intentions or support for compulsory Hijab and have always talked about the importance of freedom, democracy and human rights.
In the UK, the All Party Parliamentary Group on British Muslims published a report to provide a working definition for Islamophobia. Here are two parts of the definition:
“Making mendacious, dehumanizing, demonizing, or stereotypical allegations about Muslims as such, or of Muslims as a collective group, such as, especially but not exclusively, conspiracies about Muslim entryism in politics, government or other societal institutions;”
“Accusing Muslim citizens of being more loyal to the ‘Ummah’ (transnational Muslim community) or to their countries of origin, or to the alleged priorities of Muslims worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations.”
While majority of Iranians are Muslim, often in political infighting and arguments, especially about politics in Iran, you read and hear Islamophobic comments and even at times verbal harassment that are hurtful and discriminatory. Freedom of expression and religious freedom are values we all cherish in Canada, however we must also be cognizant of hurtful stereotypes and discrimination against others. As we have witnessed recently, hateful and discriminatory comments can incite others and lead to real-life violence.
But for Shahram Tabe-Mohammadi perhaps the prudent advice would be to fire his lawyer and invest in taking sensitivity training instead.
By Bijan Ahmadi, Community Activist and Former President of the Iranian Canadian Congress.