On September 21, 2014, Muslims Facing Tomorrow held a public rally in Queen’s Park, Toronto, on the steps of the Legislature, “in Support for minority Christians and other religious communities in the Middle East and the Muslim World.”
Approximately 125 people turned out for this Muslim-initiated rally against “ISIS…and for the minority communities of Christians and non-Christians who have been brutally attacked, killed, or forcefully converted into Islam under pain of death.”
Speakers included Raheel Raza, President of the Council, Vice-President of Muslims Facing Tomorrow author Salim Mansur, the Honorable Federal Minister of State for Multi-Culturalism, and former Member of Parliament (MP), Tim Uppal. In addition, four other MPs spoke: MPs John Carmichael, Devinder Shory, Brad Butt, and Bernard Trottier. Prime Minister Stephen Harper sent a strong message of support.
In addition, Rev. Majed el Shafie, President and founder of One Free World International; Avi Benlolo, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center, Arshad Mahmood, Director, Progressive Muslims Institute, Canada, Peter Bhatti, Chairman, International Christian Voice, Christopher Khokhar, son of the late Shuja Khokhar and Chairman of International Christian Awaaz, and Tahir Aslam Gora, TV producer, editor, and founder of the Muslim Committee Against Anti-Semitism—all spoke as well.
In other words: Religious and non-religious Muslims, ex-Muslims, Muslim converts to Christianity, Christians–including Pakistani Christians, Sikhs, Jews, and secularists– immigrants originally from Egypt, Pakistan, and India, to name only a few countries of origin, took a stand at this rally. This is a symbolically important turning point because Canada has, for so long, been a leader in terms of multi-cultural “sensitivity.” This has allowed countless immigrant communities to bring their tribal and religious customs with them—even if those customs are breaking Canadian law. Over time, the Canadian government has begun to understand and address the dangers of Sharia, honor-based violence including honor killings, forced marriage and forced veiling.
Ex-Muslim author Ibn Warraq has often said that while there may be “moderate Muslims, Islam itself is not moderate.” I will go further and note that while the Muslim world as a whole is certainly not rising up against Islamic fundamentalism, there are still a number of heroic Muslims and ex-Muslims who are strongly and openly anti-Islamist. They genuinely share Western concepts of human rights, democracy, the separation of religion and state, the right to choose one’s religion and not to be coerced into it, etc. Some who live in Muslim lands are frequently executed for expressing such beliefs.
For example, on September 18, 2014, a Pakistani scholar accused of blasphemy for a speech he made in the United States two years ago was shot dead in Karachi. The scholar, Muhammed Shakil Auj, was the author of fifteen books and was considered a “progressive liberal.” His exact crime is unclear but he was known for issuing “fatwas pronouncing, for example, that a Muslim woman could marry a non-Muslim man, and that women need not remove lipstick or nail polish before saying their prayers.”
On September 17, 2014, in Afghanistan, the seventh journalist this year, this time a woman, Palwasha Tokhi (or Palwasha Tokhi Miranzai), was repeatedly stabbed to death by a group of unknown men in Mazar-i-Sharif. Her crime? She was a woman—she had an M.A. degree, she dared to work outside the home and for Bayan –Shamal, a new network as a media analyst.
Even in Canada, there are risks to Muslims and Pakistanis who speak out. One may be ex-communicated by one’s family and one’s community; one may also be punished for choosing one’s own spouse, forcibly married, forcibly veiled, death-threatened, beaten, and honor-killed in Canada for refusing to accept these tribal and religious customs and for saying, out loud, what was said at this rally in Toronto. There are risks to non-Muslims, including Christians, Jews, and atheists, for saying what is considered “politically incorrect” by the multi-cultural relativist government and intelligentsia.
At the Toronto rally, Raheel Raza said:
While my co-religionists are murdering innocent people, setting homes and lives ablaze and carrying out heinous crimes in many Muslim lands, I come here in solidarity for the victims and to categorically denounce these barbaric acts. I stand here today as a Christian, a Yazidi, a Jew, a Sikh, an Ahmadi, a Shia—any minority who has faced persecution. ISIS is a satanic cult which has no place in the civilized world and must be condemned. As my hero, Martin Luther King Jr. said so eloquently: ‘Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.’ Sharia laws, especially those that dehumanize women are man-made laws which are obsolete….In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends. I already have two fatwas on my head—I invite a third.
Speaking to Breitbart News, Salim Mansur said he was both cheered at this beginning but also disappointed because, despite “immense effort in getting the word out, there were scarcely any so-called ‘moderate’ Muslims there. [This phrase is a] fairy tale term crafted by the media apologists of CAIR, ISNA, and other Islamist organizations. They are apologists whose silence is, in effect, providing oxygen to the killers among us.”
Dr. Mansur also spoke at the rally. He said:
Muslims have been the first victims of these terrorists…but it is long over-due for us Muslims to denounce and oppose these terrorists, these monsters in human shape and form, and to say openly and without any doubt that these Muslim terrorists, these monsters of ISIS and all the other jihadi movements are truly the Gog and Magog of our time, the enemies of people, the enemies of God and all that God has deemed sacred for all of His creation.
These are the Muslims and ex-Muslims with whom I stand. I suggest that such an interfaith alliance of real dissidents, heroic dissidents, may, eventually, have the power to become a resistance movement worthy of that name. Nothing else will.
This article also appeared on Breitbart.com
Prof. Phyllis Chesler
The writer, a Shillman-Ginsburg Fellow at the Middle East Forum and recipient of the 2013 National Jewish Book Award, is the author of fifteen books, including Women and Madness, Woman’s Inhumanity to Woman, and The New Anti-Semitism. She has published three studies about honor killing and is at work on a fourth. Her latest book is An American Bride in Kabul, (Palgrave Macmillan). Professor Chesler may be reached at her website www.phyllis-chesler.com