Migrants, Muslims and the Future of Democracy

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Tuesday, April 30th, 2019

Tuesday, April 30, 20195:00PM - 7:00PMThe Vivian and David Campbell Conference Facility, Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy
1 Devonshire Place
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Islam and Global Affairs Initiative


Nine minutes before attacking two mosques and killing 50 Muslim worshippers in Christchurch, the shooter released a 73-page manifesto outlining his anti-immigration and white supremacist agenda. World leaders condemned the terrorist attack, but continue to face serious questions about their own immigration and border security policies at home.

Across North America and Europe, migration is a point of fierce debate. Proponents argue that immigrants make a positive social, economic, and cultural impact, while others express concerns that unchecked migration threatens security and jobs.

Exploiting this reasonable debate are white extremist groups that frame migration as a “race war” and declare that Muslims should be purged. These radicalized white extremists have developed globalized digital networks that have inspired horrifying terrorist attacks in Oslo, Quebec City, and Christchurch.

Has the democratic debate about migration become irreversibly securitized? How can analysts and policymakers reasonably and responsibly debate immigration policies, without fuelling dangerous anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim extremism? What does the hard evidence have to say about the effects of migration on the future of democracy?
To answer these pressing questions, the Islam and Global Affairs Initiative at the Munk School presents a dynamic panel discussion with renowned experts.

Chris Cochrane is an Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Toronto Scarborough. He is the author of Left and Right: The Small World of Political Ideas (MQUP, 2015) and co-author of Canadian Politics: Critical Approaches (Nelson, 2014). His current research looks at ideology, political disagreement, and anti-immigrant sentiment in Canada and other democratic countries.

Doug Saunders is a distinguished author and award-winning journalist with a regular column with The Globe and Mail. An expert on migration and international affairs, he is the author of the acclaimed books “The Myth of the Muslim Tide” (2012) and “Maximum Canada: Why 35 Million Canadians Are Not Enough” (2017).

Naseem Mithoowani Naseem Mithoowani has been practising immigration and refugee law for over 10 years. She graduated from Osgoode Hall Law School, and is now a partner at the law firm of Waldman & Associates. She has defended the rights of women to wear religious face covering at citizenship oath ceremonies and fought for civil compensation on behalf of victims of draconian security certificate regimes. She is an adjunct professor of law at Osgoode Hall Law School, where she teaches immigration law. She also is involved in an initiative to implement a Muslim legal aid clinic to the GTA, sits on a committee at the University of Toronto to implement legal support to students targeted on campus by CSIS, and is a Board Member of the Urban Alliance on Race Relations.

Aisha Ahmad (moderator) is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Toronto Scarborough. She is the author of Jihad & Co.: Black Markets and Islamist Power (Oxford UP, 2017). She has conducted research in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Kenya, Mali, Lebanon, and Iraq on the economics of jihadist insurgencies.


Chris Cochrane
Associate Professor, Political Science, University of Toronto

Naseem Mithoowani
Lawyer, Waldman & Associates

Doug Saunders
Journalist, International Affairs Columnist, The Globe and Mail

Aisha Ahmad
Assistant Professor, Political Science, University of Toronto

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