Come north, Americans. It’s better here.

The following article was published by iPolitics, on Nov. 11, 2016

As the dust settles on what was arguably the most toxic U.S. presidential campaign in living memory, a trend is emerging in the deeply divided republic to the south. Half of Americans seem content with their choice this week and are looking forward to “making America great again,” whatever that means.

The other half — terrified by their president-elect’s talk of abandoning NAFTA, cutting immigration, forcing Muslims to wear ID cards and building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border — are looking to flee.

Moments after it was confirmed that Donald Trump would be the 45th president of the United States, Canada’s government immigration website crashed due to a surge of hits. Pop-culture luminaries like Stephen King, Bryan Cranston and Lena Dunham have proclaimed their intention to move north.

But why Canada? Geographical proximity is only part of the explanation.

The events of this week have only served to confirm that our two countries — united by a lot of common history — are on completely different tracks now. Through legislation and initiatives such as the Office of Religious Freedom, Canada has become a global leader in promoting and protecting — as opposed to alienating and marginalizing — cultural and religious identities.

Our leaders aren’t perfect, but none of them has ever come anywhere near Trump’s level of appalling — the boasts about sexual assault, the racial slurs, the rampant lying. In fact, the entire presidential contest was a sharp slide into irrelevance and bad taste: The presidential debates, usually an opportunity for the candidates to stress the merits of their platforms, this time played out like two children in expensive suits calling each other names.

So I don’t blame those Americans for wanting to leave. And while they’re more than welcome to call this country their home, it’s important they understand what living in Canada really means.

Speak to the millions of immigrants and refugees who left homelands ripped apart by poverty, oppression and war, for a home that would welcome them with open arms and offer them peace. A home that would provide them with educational opportunities, health care and social benefits, that would promote and celebrate their unique religious and cultural ideals. A home that would equip them with the tools they need to thrive.

Ask the Syrian refugees who now wake up to the sounds of alarm clocks — instead of gunfire, explosions and the cries of wounded children.

Or ask me. As an Ahmadi Muslim, my fellow community members have been stripped of the fundamental right to practice their faith in countries like Pakistan and Indonesia. Around the world, Ahmadi Muslims are routinely physically and verbally assaulted, robbed and killed. The governments of these so-called Islamic states have labelled us heretics and infidels, opening the doors to persecution and bloodshed.

In our homelands we are fragmented and weak — but in Canada we are united and strong. For Ahmadi Muslims, Syrian refugees and just about any immigrant to this great land, living in Canada means everything.

It is our home, and we will protect it.

Look at the people we’ve elected to represent us in Ottawa, in government and opposition both — men and women from all walks of life dedicated to reinforcing Canada’s global reputation for integrity, transparency and equal opportunity. It’s clear why Canada is the choice of many Americans.

To those Americans genuinely distressed by the direction their country is taking, and alarmed by the prospect of what’s to come, me and my fellow Canadians offer a message of welcome. Your new president says he wants to make America “great”. We think we’re pretty great already.

Khizar Karim,



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