It's been a decade since the 9/11 terrorist attacks devastated New York City -- and the Western world. If you're anything like me, you remember exactly where you were at the time (office, London) and the frozen shock you felt as the Twin Towers were struck down one after another.
Ten years on -- and, according to intel by the Ottawa think tank, The Rideau Institute, over $92 billion plugged into national security later -- do you feel Canada is any safer, as Prime Minister Stephen Harper suggests? Putting economics aside for a moment, do you feel our homeland is safer now? Or did you ever feel threatened being north of the border in the first place?
Do you feel the main threat is, as Harper maintains, "Islamicism"? Personally, I was shocked that he simply didn't say "fundamentalism", of which any religion or social group can be guilty -- as we discovered in Norway this past summer.
In a recent Ipsos Reid poll for Postmedia News and Global TV, over half of Canadians felt that Muslims were discriminated against more now than they were 10 years ago. However, Canadian Muslim groups regarded the impact of 9/11 on the Muslim community was both good and bad.
"On the good side," said Kashif Ahmed, a national board member with the Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations, "there has been the ability for Canadians to access their fellow citizens with Muslim backgrounds, to get to know them more, and essentially have the ability to get accurate information about Islam in the Muslim community which has been a great thing for those who want to have that information."
On the bad side, 9/11 has led to more workplace discrimination, due to a misunderstanding or a lack of information about the faith.
"Once (organizations) know about the faith practices, they are more open to make reasonable accommodations or resolve issues without any further problems," said Ahmed. "The common misconception people have about Islam is that it promotes terrorism and that the Muslim community doesn't condemn terrorism, or women are chattel of Muslim men."
In many cases, the cultural practices in question don't reflect Islam's teachings. As ever, knowledge is power. Before he sounds off, Harper would do with remembering that terrorists are at the heart of terrorism -- not whole communities.