Former Liberal minister says “Islamophobia” is a misunderstood word


OTTAWA — Former justice minister Irwin Cotler says a Liberal-backed motion aimed at combating racism would have broader support if it didn”t contain the word “Islamophobia.”

But the Liberals are standing firm, arguing that removing that one word would water down the motion and diminish the fight against hatred and discrimination.

The motion, known as M-103, was debated in the House of Commons on Wednesday night.

If it”s approved, the Commons heritage committee would be asked to study the issue and develop a strategy to tackle it.

The Opposition Conservatives have countered with their own motion, which makes no reference to Islamophobia.

Cotler, who served in the justice portfolio under Liberal prime minister Paul Martin, says Islamophobia is a misunderstood word.

Now a human rights activist, Cotler says the word should be replaced with the phrase “anti-Muslim bigotry.”

Both the Conservatives and Liberals accuse each other of playing politics and causing divisions over the issue, rather than addressing the problem co-operatively.