While Muslim parents pack public meetings with pronouncements that 'Islam is a religion of peace,' their sons and daughters are being taught something else
No sooner did news of the Ottawa Terror Plot unfold on national TV, than one could predict the response of Canada’s Islamists and their organizations.
Across Canada, apologists of the terror suspects repeated the same mantra. The three men arrested were portrayed as "innocent" and the wider Muslim community was positioned as the real victims of the episode. It was as if the Islamist leadership had dusted off the speaking notes from the days of the Toronto 18 trials when leader after leader stood up to claim the young men arrested were framed, not real terrorists.
As Muslim Canadians, both of us, while asking for the due judicial process to take its course, had no hesitation in condemning the rising tide of jihadi radicalism that is sweeping like a contagious disease among Muslim youth, especially of Pakistani ancestry, across Canada. However, by and large the leadership of traditional Islamist organizations and the mosque establishment repeated the now tired and cliché-ridden depiction of Muslims as the real victims.
Not a single imam that we have heard has mustered the courage to say, "The doctrine of armed jihad is defunct and inapplicable in the 21st century." Instead the same tired old clichés were repeated about Islam being a religion of peace and denouncing terrorism, while keeping mum about jihad.
Saira Rahman, a filmmaker, told the Winnipeg Free Press, "It’s so very frustrating. It’s very unfair — you’re demonizing communities again and creating a situation where everyone’s guilty till proven innocent." She was not alone in being in denial.
From Ottawa, the epicentre of the latest terror threat, Nazira Tareen of the Ottawa Muslim Women’s Organization wrote, "99.9 per cent of them (Muslims) are law abiding, hardworking, peace loving, caring and contributing citizens of Canada. … I personally know all the imams of all the mosques in the Nation’s Capital Region and all of them are totally against this type of behaviour. We are unanimous in condemning this type of behaviour." Again condemning "behaviour," but has nothing useful to say about the underlying jihadi ideology.
Obviously Tareen was not aware of the Environics Poll of 2007 that found 12 per cent of Canada’s Muslims having a favourable disposition towards the Toronto 18 terrorists and 14 per cent who identified themselves with "extremists" within the Muslim community.
This means there could be as many as 100,000 Muslim Canadians who are hostile to Canada and western civilization. A scary number by any measure.
If individual Muslim Canadians were pushing the victimhood agenda, their organizations were doing no better. The Canadian Islamic Congress, which supported the introduction of Shariah law in Canada, issued a statement saying:
"Canadian Muslims, more than other citizens, are deeply concerned and disturbed … especially about the psychological, social and emotional impact of these arrests on the wellbeing of Canadian Muslims." One was left scratching one’s head: What about non-Muslim Canadians who were allegedly the real targets of these suspected terrorists? The CIC statement went further. It expressed concern about "how these arrests would be managed in Canada and what kind of impact the media reports will have on Canadian citizens of Muslim faith." Added to the spin was the accusation of journalistic "sensationalism, prejudgment, or speculation."
Unfortunately, the Muslim victimhood agenda was helped by the leader of the Liberal Party, Michael Ignatieff, who stepped into the fray by claiming that the terror suspects need to be treated as innocent. He then made this outrageous remark: "It’s important for Canadians to realize in the Toronto case, the courts acquitted many people."
Not true, Mr. Ignatieff. While charges were dropped in some cases, not a single member of the Toronto terror plot tried by the courts was acquitted. Everyone who was tried before the court was either convicted or confessed. As card-carrying Liberals, we were shocked to read how our leader was buying in to the Islamist agenda.
The Ottawa arrests have links to a Montreal Mosque, another hotbed of Islamist activity. Two of the suspects attended the Islamic Community Centre Mosque in Brossard. At the mosque too the men in charge were on the defensive, claiming no knowledge of any extremist activity.
Faisal Shahabuddin, a member of the mosque’s board when asked to explain how two members of the congregation had allegedly gotten themselves involved in the terror plot, stated, "Why should I explain if we don’t know it’s true?"
However, this Montreal suburban mosque has had a history of Islamist activity. In September 2005, the leadership of the same mosque targeted fellow Muslim Fatima Houda-Pepin, member of the Quebec National Assembly, because she had dared to oppose Shariah law and was instrumental in moving a unanimous resolution against introducing Islamic law in Quebec.
She was intimidated and told the congregation would work to defeat her in the next elections. She won hands down. Responding to the bullying by the mosque, Fatima Houda-Pepin said, "We must not underestimate the threat posed by fundamentalists on women and the justice system."
Muslims of Ottawa are not new to the involvement of their sons in terrorism. Most are aware of the conviction of Momin Khawaja, yet continue to treat him as a victim and martyr.
The jihad that Momin Khawaja talked about in his musings is the armed jihad of warfare as clearly enunciated by such 20th-century Islamists of the Muslim Brotherhood as Syed Qutb and Hassan al-Banna and Pakistan’s Syed Maudoodi. It is this triad who are the ideological gurus of the world Islamist movements whose works are fanning the flames of armed jihad around the world.
As you read this column, young Islamists in campuses across Canada are distributing free booklets titled Towards Understanding Islam, written by Maudoodi. In the booklet, Maudoodi exhorts ordinary Muslims to launch jihad, as in armed struggle, against non-Muslims.
"Jihad is part of this overall defence of Islam," he writes. In case the reader is left with any doubt about the meaning of the word "jihad," Maudoodi clarifies: "In the language of the Divine Law, this word (jihad) is used specifically for the war that is waged solely in the name of God against those who perpetrate oppression as enemies of Islam. This supreme sacrifice is the responsibility of all Muslims."
Maudoodi goes on to label Muslims who refuse the call to armed jihad as apostates:
"Jihad is as much a primary duty as are daily prayers or fasting. One who avoids it is a sinner. His every claim to being a Muslim is doubtful. He is plainly a hypocrite who fails in the test of sincerity and all his acts of worship are a sham, a worthless, hollow show of deception." If Muslim countries do not go to war against the enemies of Islam, Maudoodi says a worldwide uprising by ordinary Muslims is the answer. He writes: "Muslims of the whole world must fight the common enemy."
If Maudoodi’s exhortations to jihad are not enough, we have the words of the late Hassan al-Banna being distributed in our schools and universities. Al-Banna makes it quite clear that the word "jihad" means armed conflict. He mocks those who claim jihad is merely an internal struggle; al-Banna says this redefinition of the term "jihad" is a conspiracy so that "Muslims should become negligent."
While their parents pack public meetings with pronouncements that "Islam is a religion of peace," their sons and daughters are being taught something else.
Here is what Qutb, another Egyptian stalwart of the Islamist movement and the Muslim Brotherhood, writes in his seminal work on Islam and its relationship with the West, Milestones:
"Any place where Islamic Shariah is not enforced and where Islam is not dominant becomes the Home of Hostility (Dar-ul-Harb or the West). … A Muslim will remain prepared to fight against it, whether it be his birthplace or a place where his relatives reside or where his property or any other material interests are located."
Unless the leaders of Canadian mosques as well as the Islamic organizations denounce the doctrine of jihad as pronounced by the Muslim Brotherhood, and distance themselves from the ideology of Qutb, al-Banna and Maudoodi, their chant that "Islam means peace" will fall on deaf ears.
It will merely reinforce the suspicions of many Canadians who feel some overseas groups are pulling the strings in this carefully staged puppet show.
Tarek Fatah is the author of The Jew is Not My Enemy (McClelland & Stewart) and a host on NewsTalk 1010 Radio in Toronto. Salma Siddiqui is vice-president of the Muslim Canadian Congress and is a businesswoman in Ottawa.