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Conversation with Dr. Katherine Bullock on Hate, Bill C-21, Hindutva and Coptic Groups, the Nones, and Bigotry: Past Chair, Islamic Society of North America-Canada (ISNA-Canada); Lecturer, Political Science, University of Toronto at Mississauga (4)


Author(s): Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Publication (Outlet/Website): In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

Publication Date (yyyy/mm/dd): 2022/02/08


Katherine Bullock is a TV host for Sound Vision Foundation’s Canadian Muslim News and Director of Special Programs. She is also a Lecturer in the Department of Political Science, University of Toronto at Mississauga. Her teaching focus is political Islam from a global perspective, and her research focuses on Muslims in Canada, their history, contemporary lived experiences, political and civic engagement, debates on the veil, media representations of Islam and Muslims, and Muslim perspectives on Basic Income. She is currently President of Compass Books, dedicated to publishing top-quality books about Islam and Muslims in English. Her own books include: Muslim Women Activists in North America: Speaking for Ourselves, and Rethinking Muslim Women and the Veil: Challenging Historical and Modern Stereotypes which has been translated into Arabic, French, Malayalam, and Turkish. Her latest research was published by the Yaqeen Institute and is a study of zakat in Canada. She is past President of the Tessellate Institute and the Islamic Society of North America, Canada. Originally from Australia, she lives in Oakville, Canada, with her husband and children. She embraced Islam in 1994. She discusses: hate; discrimination; the levels of Muslim community dialogue regarding Bill C21; Hindutva groups; Coptic groups; rallies and demonstrations; the relationships between Indigenous communities and Muslim communities; the most common scriptural interpretations used to justify “genital mutilation, honour killings, or being confined to the home”; the most common justifications for the notion of ‘Islam oppresses women’; Canadian Muslim women subject to the same issues of anorexia and dangerous cosmetic surgery as Canadian non-Muslim women; the different types of Muslim religious schools in Canada; an interbelief day conference via Zoom; the demographics of denominations of Islam in Canada; international politics; the practical reform needed for removal of racial profiling, excessive force, innocent Muslims being killed, and other suffering internationally within the general faith community; the form of anti-black racism by some Muslims; the Canadian government; and forms of bigotry.

Keywords: anti-Muslim racism, Canadian, Coptic, Hindutva, Islam, Katherine Bullock, Muslims, University of Toronto at Mississauga, Uyghurs.

Conversation with Dr. Katherine Bullock on Hate, Bill C-21, Hindutva and Coptic Groups, the Nones, and Bigotry: Past Chair, Islamic Society of North America-Canada (ISNA-Canada); Lecturer, Political Science, University of Toronto at Mississauga (4)

*Please see the footnotes, bibliography, and citation style listing after the interview.*

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: How is hate defined regarding anti-Muslim racism?

Dr. Katherine Bullock[1],[2]: Anti-Muslim racism is a form of tribalism, in whatever society it appears. It turns Muslims into an Other that is Outcast from the tribe, by virtue of Muslims’ alleged negative attributes such violence and oppression of women. Muslims are hated for being this Negative Other.

Jacobsen: How is discrimination defined regarding anti-Muslim racism?

Bullock: Similar to what I wrote above, if Muslims are Outcasts then they do not have the same rights (or responsibilities) as the Ingroup, and are treated differently – discriminated against.

Jacobsen: What were the levels of Muslim community dialogue regarding Bill C21?

Bullock: Muslims are still discussing, rallying and organising against Bill C21, especially with the latest development whereby a Muslim teacher was “reassigned” to a different job for wearing a headscarf. BillC21 turns religious minorities into second class citizens in Canada. The National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) is part of a legal challenge to that Bill and is fundraising to pay for the challenge. We are all grateful to Brampton Mayor, Patrick Brown, and other mayors across Canada who have committed funds towards the legal challenge as well.

Jacobsen: How are Hindutva groups engaged in this hate and discrimination?

Bullock: Hindutva groups in India are calling for India to treat its Muslims the same way China is committing genocide against the Uyghur. In Canada, the Hindutva groups organise rallies and lobbying against mosques, prayer in schools, and fair representation in textbooks.

Jacobsen: How are Coptic groups engaged in this hate and discrimination?

Bullock: I begin by acknowledging that Copts in countries like Egypt can suffer from hate and discrimination perpetuated by some Muslims. If we are going to oppose hate and discrimination here against Muslims, we have to have consistent principles and oppose it everywhere. Some Copts here are part of interfaith groups working for diversity and inclusion, while others are part of the hate groups, such as the Hindutva described above.

Jacobsen: With these rallies and demonstrations, of Hindutva and Coptic groups, and with the claims by Prime Minister Trudeau of Canada as the first post-national state, do Muslim communities in Canada see this as a longer road or a shorter road to fairer treatment of Canadian Muslims and Muslims in Canada?

Bullock: While I have never done any empirical research with Muslims asking for their feedback about this statement of Trudeau, my sense is that Muslims would see this as a shorter road to fairer treatment. Many times in my interviews, when I ask about their perspectives on “being Muslim” and “being Canadian,” I am struck by how often they praise and admire Canada’s official multiculturalism. Some older immigrants told me that policy was the reason they chose to emigrate to Canada. Some younger Muslims say when they experience racism “that person isn’t being a very good Canadian.”

Jacobsen: How are the relationships between Indigenous communities and Muslim communities?

Bullock: The relationship between Muslims and Indigenous communities is very good. While a lot of Muslims haven’t paid attention to the ongoing legacies of colonial injustices to First Nations, and we could say a relationship is non-existent, others have recognised the similarities in colonial experiences and current discriminatory treatment in media representation, policing and systemic racism. There are dialogue and support efforts all over Canada.

Jacobsen: What are the most common scriptural interpretations used to justify “genital mutilation, honour killings, or being confined to the home”?

Bullock: We can’t easily discuss these three things in the same paragraph. The most important part to understand is that these are social customary practices with little root in “scriptural interpretation.” There is no scriptural basis for genital mutilation or honor killing, these are things Christians, animists, Muslims, and others do across the world. Female genital cutting appears to have existed at the time of the Pharaohs, and in Europe and the United States, clitoridectomy was practised as late as the 1950s to treat hysteria and epilepsy. Some Muslim proponents of clitoridectomy, which is the least mutilating form, find sayings they attribute to Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, in support of the practice. But this is more like searching for a justification for something you already want to do, rather than the other way around. The same goes for the pressures confining some women to the home – there is one verse in the Qur’an used to justify it, but it is a pre-existent practice that has roots in Ancient Greece, India, and Persia. []

Jacobsen: What are the most common justifications for the notion of ‘Islam oppresses women’?

Bullock: People look around the world and see Muslim majority societies that don’t give identical rights to men and women, indeed, give women less rights than men: eg right to work, to vote, to drive, to marry with consent, to divorce at will, to have child custody rights, to education, to go out heads uncovered. It’s a long and sorry list. They attribute these inequalities to “Islam,” rather than historical customs.

Jacobsen: For Canadian Muslim women who were born and grew up in Canada, as with non-Muslim women suffering from notions of beauty leading to “anorexia and dangerous cosmetic surgery,” how are these Canadian Muslim women subject to the same issues of anorexia and dangerous cosmetic surgery as Canadian non-Muslim women?

Bullock: Anyone who lives in this society is subject to the same pressures to be thin and beautiful created by consumer capitalism. It is all around, in advertising, in films, and now in the pressures of social media – the “like” counts on Tiktok, Instagram, or Youtube.

Jacobsen: What are the different types of Muslim religious schools in Canada? What ones are actual? What ones are proposed? What ones are entirely the fabrication of anti-Muslim bigots?

Bullock: Muslim religious schools in Canada are of two types: the first, and the most numerous, are those that are registered as private schools, they must confirm to the curriculum guidelines of the province they are in. They offer the standard provincial curriculum and add Arabic and Islamic Studies. The second, and least numerous, are those that offer a focus on memorising the Qur’an, which is an intense programme. As far as I know they offer secular subjects, but they take up less of the regular school day, at least while the student is memorising the Qur’an. Muslim religious schools teach Muslims to be good Muslims and good Canadian citizens. The bigots fabricate the notion that such schools teach hatred of the West.

Jacobsen: If offered to take part in an interbelief day conference via Zoom, would you provide a presentation and take part in a panel to discuss some of these issues?

Bullock: Absolutely, if I am available during the time allotted.

Jacobsen: What are the demographics of denominations of Islam in Canada to clarify and to denude this myth of Islam as a bloc religion? Every community goes through this to some degree, but the Nones and Muslims go through this to a spectacular degree in this country in spite of the sophistication of much of the discourse in the country.

Bullock: Breaking demographic data down to the sectarian denomination is difficult in Canada, since survey questions don’t always ask such specifics.

The most recent summary I have seen, from 2019, pulled together different data sets, and concluded that 64% of Canadian Muslims identified at Sunni, 8% Shia, 10% Other, such as Ismaili or Ahmadi, and 18% had chosen not to identify with any of these.

[Sarah Shah, Canadian Muslims: Demographics, Discrimination, Religiosity, and Voting, Institute of Islamic Studies Occasional Paper Series, 2019,]

Jacobsen: In international politics, there are cases considered religious issues. I see this semi-universally in secular communities. I say this as an independent journalistic analysis and as an independent freethinker. I take part in these communities as an individual and reserve the right, and privilege, to disagree and leave at any time or point of intellectual or moral divergence, as I have done in the past to professional detriment, but moral correctness (from my vantage at the time). One of the most prominent and longstanding is the issue of Israel-Palestine.[3] Some might posit this as a purely religious issue with one religion fighting against another. Yet, on the ground, and in expert analysis, this isn’t the case. It can be part of the confluence of factors, though. How are issues of international politics from an ignorant perspective impacting Muslim communities in Canada, where views about a sociopolitical and human rights become blanketed as religious in nature – thus, feeding back into general prejudices back here, in Canada? You see the point.

Bullock: You raise an excellent and important point. Much of what goes on in international politics is based in tribalism or nationalism. Control over land and resources is usually the key. Religion can get wrapped up into the discursive justifications leaders give for why they want to do what they do. It is not only religion, witness the US wars in the name of freedom or democracy, which is really about control over land and resources, such as oil and minerals. Revenge is often part of it. The USA went to war in Afghanistan to oust the Soviets partly in revenge for “losing” Vietnam. Muslim terrorists most commonly cite political factors behind their revenge violence, such as getting back at the West for the West’s domination and atrocities in the Muslim world. To people ignorant of Western foreign policies’ brutalities, of Islamic history and law, and of the importance of power politics, all of this is simplified and morphed into “Islam” simple, which then causes the negative stereotypes and the Outcasting that we discussed in the beginning of this post.

Jacobsen: What would be the practical reform needed for removal of racial profiling, excessive force, innocent Muslims being killed, and other suffering internationally within the general faith community, e.g., Uyghurs, Rohingya, Kashmiris, and Palestinians? I mean practical reforms within Canada to ameliorate some of these issues.

Bullock: Canada needs to put its money where its mouth is as far as standing up for human rights worldwide. Boycotts, sanctions, diplomatic pressure are among the tools available. To address these human rights crimes inside its borders, Canada can pass legislation that refuses trade if the product is made from forced Uyghur labour. More policy recommendations are available here:

Jacobsen: What is the form of anti-black racism by some Muslims? How is this more a reflection of larger racist and anti-black movements and perspectives within Canadian society impacting Muslim communities?

Bullock: Anti-black racism has an unfortunately long history in the Muslim world. The Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, spoke out against it. It is a scourge not yet overcome. For Muslims in Canada who are anti-black, Canadian anti-black racism would just be overlapping and reinforcing what pre-exists in Muslim social history.

Jacobsen: What has the Canadian government done well vis-à-vis combatting anti-Semitism, anti-Catholic prejudice, and anti-Muslim bigotry? These ones have seen the increases in hate crimes statistics. If the Nones in Canada are anything like the Nones in America, then enormous prejudice and bigotry, and discrimination, happen to them too. Nones here defined as atheists, agnostics, and nothing in particulars.

Bullock: Whenever a government acknowledges racism, discrimination, or bigotry against any group, it is doing well. At least that is better than ignoring or denying, like the Quebec government keeps doing in claiming there is no anti-Muslim racism in Quebec. The first step to fix a problem is to be aware of it. Organising Parliamentary committee hearings, National Summits, self-education and being able to address such topics in the media are important first steps. But policy must follow talk. There are many who are still skeptical that governments do little but talk and photo-ops at mosques. Again, many Muslims are impressed with Brampton Major, Patrick Brown, who has endorsed the NCCM’s recommendations for municipalities addressing Islamophobia.

Jacobsen: What forms of bigotry seem the most entrenched and probably requiring the longest time to combat in Canada impacting Muslims across the denominational spectrum and throughout the country?

Bullock: Indigenous peoples have battled racism since colonisation, Jews have been battling anti-Semitism in Canada since the 1700s, Blacks have contended with anti-black racism since slavery in Canada, and Muslims have faced anti-Muslim racism since the 1800s here! Allyships are developing and crucial to support and foster. Economic discrimination is one of the most important to address since it affects people’s ability to live.

Jacobsen: Thank you for the opportunity and your time, Dr. Bullock.

Bullock: Thank you too.

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Past Chair, Islamic Society of North America-Canada (ISNA-Canada)LecturerPolitical ScienceUniversity of Toronto at Mississauga; Past President, Tesselate Institute; President, Compass Books.

[2] Individual Publication Date: February 8, 2022:; Full Issue Publication Date: May 1, 2022:

[3] For resources on this subject based on a large number of educational interviews by me, please review here with the hyperlinks active:

Omar Shakir Sessions (Chronological Order)

Interview with Omar Shakir – Israel and Palestine Director, Human Rights Watch (Middle East and North Africa Division)

HRW Israel and Palestine (MENA) Director on Systematic Methodology and Universal Vision

Human Rights Watch (Israel and Palestine) on Common Rights and Law Violations

Ask HRW (Israel and Palestine) 1 – Recent Events

Ask HRW (Israel and Palestine) 2 – Demolitions

Ask HRW (Israel and Palestine) 3 – November-December: Deportation from Tel Aviv, Israel for Human Rights Watch Israel and Palestine Director

Ask HRW (Israel and Palestine) 4 – Uninhabitable: The Viability of Gaza Strip’s 2020 Unlivability

Ask HRW (Israel and Palestine) 5 – The Trump Peace Plan: Is This the “The Deal of the Century,” or Not?

Ask HRW (Israel and Palestine) 6 – Tripartite Partition: The Israeli Elections, the International Criminal Court (ICC), and SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19

Ask HRW (Israel and Palestine) 7 – New Heights to the Plight and the Fight: Covid-19, Hegemony, Restrictions, and Rights

Ask HRW (Israel and Palestine) 8 (w/ Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in the Palestinian Territories Occupied since 1967) – Annexation, International Law, Occupation, Rights, and Settlements

Ask HRW (Israel and Palestine) 9 – When Rain is Law and Justice is Dry Land


Ask HRW (Israel and Palestine) Addendum: Some History and Contextualization of Rights

Other Resources Internal to Canadian Atheist

Interview with Dr. Norman Finkelstein on Gaza Now

Extensive Interview with Gideon Levy

Interview with Musa Abu Hashash – Field Researcher (Hebron District), B’Tselem

Interview with Gideon Levy – Columnist, Haaretz

Interview with Dr. Usama Antar – Independent Political Analyst (Gaza Strip, Palestine)

Interview with Wesam Ahmad – Representative, Al-Haq (Independent Palestinian Human Rights Organization)

Extensive Interview with Professor Richard Falk – Fmr. (5th) United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in the Palestinian Territories Occupied since 1967

Extensive Interview with Professor John Dugard – Fmr. (4th) United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in the Palestinian Territories Occupied since 1967

Extensive Interview with S. Michael Lynk – (7th) United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in the Palestinian Territories Occupied since 1967

Conversation with John Dugard, Richard Falk, and S. Michael Lynk on the Role of the Special Rapporteur, and the International Criminal Court & Jurisdiction

To resolve the Palestinian question we need to end colonialism

Trump’s Colonial Solution to the Question of Palestine Threatens the Foundations of International Law

Dr. Norman Finkelstein on the International Criminal Court


In-Sight Publishing by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Based on a work at


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