By Mohammed Azhar Ali Khan
May 09, 2013
Terrorism attempts by deranged Muslims provide bigots with a bonanza - an opportunity to attack Muslims and Islam to try to convince decent folks that Muslims and their faith are evil and a threat to the West.
The horrible Boston Marathon terror attack and the alleged attempt to derail VIA RAIL to inflict destruction in Canada prompted the Islam-bashers to unleash a torrent of hate against Muslims and Islam. But this time the media provided some Muslims a chance to explain their viewpoint. More important, thoughtful Canadians spoke out in a fair manner to produce an informative dialogue.
The most discussed comment came from Liberal party leader Justin Trudeau. Responding to a question by CBC on how he’d handle terrorist attacks, Trudeau said he’d have to look at the root causes of terrorism. Trudeau is a rising political star and has recently been elected leader of the Liberal party which used to be in power most of the time but has now fallen into the disfavor of voters.
What Trudeau said was being asserted by US pundits as well. They, too, were puzzled by the resiliency of terror and want to know what drives people of diverse backgrounds to criminal assaults.
Islamophobes pounced on Trudeau. One writer with the Ottawa Citizen, long known for his inaccurate diatribes against Muslims and Islam, declared that Trudeau was naive, lacked experience and intellect on the topic. This writer argued that the “Islamists, like the Nazis and Communists, are motivated more by spiritual disease.” He said that they saw themselves “as specially chosen, whether by God, the Fuhrer or history, and justify their killing as sanctioned by a higher purpose.”
He wrote that there are “close ideological ties between Islamic terrorism and Nazism” and they are “devoted to destruction of the Western world in large part because they hate its progressivist notions of inclusion, toleration and multiculturalism.”
Well, if one is going to lie one might as well do so on a massive scale and attack the truth relentlessly and shamelessly. So the writer compares Islam with Nazism while ignoring that when Jews were being killed by Nazis and the West was refusing to let in Jewish refugees, it was Muslims who gave them shelter.
Janice Kennedy, a writer with the same paper but with a reputation for fairness, presented a different picture.
She wrote: “At a time when terrorism seems ubiquitous and inescapable, we Canadians find ourselves wrestling with our principles on a national scale. How unfortunate, then, that our soul-searching is being sidetracked by the voices of intolerance, by the small minds that would have us turn our backs on the things that have traditionally made us Canadian.”
She continued: “You can imagine the apprehensive despair that must wash over ordinary Muslims every time a criminal tragedy like Boston, or a potential criminal tragedy like the alleged train plot, hits the news. There must be a collective groan of ‘oh no,’ much like the Catholics hearing, about yet another child-abusing priest, a different kind of terrorist.”
She concluded with a powerful message: “Certainly terrorism exists, and certainly it must be confronted. But we won’t defeat it by reducing ourselves, by making our nation less than what it has always tried to be, by giving in to baser instincts. Emotion can be a powerful thing, but it has a dark side. When it gets snarled in irrational fear, anger and desire for revenge, it can destroy the things we value most. Hate-filled hysteria is never a good response.”
While these two represent the extremes of the Canadian position, the media enabled Muslims to offer their own perspectives.
CAIR-CANADA arranged a press conference on Parliament Hill where Amira Elghawaby, the human rights officer, introduced Ihsan Gardee, the executive director, Imam Samy Metwally of the Ottawa Muslim Association, Safaa Fouda, board member of the Ottawa Muslim Women’s Organization and me. Gardee noted that it was a tip from a Toronto imam to the RCMP that led to the arrests and foiled the plot. Imam Metwally explained that hurting the innocent is against the teachings of Islam. Fouda stated that Muslims have provided sensitivity training to RCMP. I said that the overwhelming number of terrorist acts in North America have been committed by non-Muslims and that most Muslims love Canada which affords them dignity, freedom, security, prosperity and human rights.
Imam Metwally and Imam Zijad Delic of the South Nepean Muslim Community told the Ottawa Citizen that safeguarding Canadians is an Islamic duty for Muslims. Imam Delic and Aisha Shirazi, a convert and an asset to the Muslim community, wrote in the National Post. Shaheena Khan appeared on CBC in Winnipeg. Imam Sikander Hashmi of the Islamic Centre of Kingston wrote in the Kingston Whig-Herald. Lawyer and academic Faisal Kutty’s piece appeared in the Toronto Star.
So Muslims got a chance to tell fellow Canadians, courtesy of the media, that Islam has nothing to do with terrorism just as terrorists of other faiths do not represent their faiths.
Mohammed Azhar Ali Khan is a retired Canadian journalist, civil servant and refugee judge