By Tarek Fatah
September 25, 2018
For many years now, a medieval ritual has been carried out by Muslims on the streets of Canada to mourn the murder of Prophet Muhammad’s grandson, Hussain Ibn Ali, in the Iraqi city of Karbala, when Muslims loyal to the then-ruler of the Islamic Caliphate slaughtered Prophet Muhammad’s entire progeny save a few women and an ailing son.
To put this in perspective, the tragedy, observed as ‘Ashura,’ unfolded 1,400 years ago, way back on Oct. 10, 680 AD.
The first time non-Muslim Canadians saw the spectacle of an ‘Ashura’ march was in 2010 when processions were held in cold weather in Vancouver, Toronto, Calgary, and Montreal. At that time, it consisted of nothing more than mourning songs and light, symbolic chest-pounding.
In the Middle East and the Indian Subcontinent, self-flagellation is not just beating chests in wild unison; it extends to whipping oneself with razor-sharp blades, cracking skulls, and bleeding baby boys with cuts on their heads.
This year, the self-flagellation ritual reached a point when last Sunday hundreds of young men took off their shirts on University Avenue facing the U.S. Consulate and started beating themselves in frightening unison.
A lawyer, originally from Lebanon, who was walking by the procession recognized what was happening and quickly recorded the scene taking place outside the 361 University Avenue Courthouse and sent it to the Toronto Sun.
Another recording then emerged from 2017 that showed this practice of hundreds of shirtless men marching on Canadian streets and beating their bare chests and faces. This had happened without any objection from any politician, public figure, or member of law enforcement.
I reached out to the candidates vying to be Toronto’s next mayor and asked them, if elected, would they permit such public display of medieval rituals on our streets?
Current Mayor John Tory’s office said the group marching bare-chested “would not have received a permit from a City Division for this activity. It would most likely be (deemed) a protest, although a cultural ritual, as it was done in front of the US Consulate.”
John Tory did not address the question of whether he would permit such a procession if elected.
His main rival in the race, Jennifer Keesmat, did not respond at first, but after some persistence, her office sent the following message:
“Thank you for writing into the campaign. We hear your feedback and appreciate you sharing it with us. We’ll pass it along to our team.”
The only candidate who did address the issue was Faith Goldy, who has been portrayed as a pariah by much of the media elites and the political class.
Responding to my question, she wrote back: “The roots of this cultural practice have no connection to Canada while the spectacle itself is profoundly incongruent with Canadian values. Mass demonstrations wherein shirtless men self-flagellate have no place on our shared publicly funded streets. As Mayor of Toronto I would see to it that such demonstrations were dispersed at once, while any infractions would be dealt with to the fullest extent of Canadian Law.”
The question is this: Why couldn’t John Tory or Jennifer Keesmat say the obvious and call out this barbaric practice as such? As long as the elites remain subservient to ethno-religious voting banks, let’s not blame the likes of Faith Goldy in Canada or Tommy Robinson in the UK. All they do is fill a vacuum. The Swedish Democrats do it in Scandinavia. The CAQ does it in Quebec while Maxime Bernier is just warming up his engines. Calling them racist is the easy part.
Tarek Fatah, a founder of the Muslim Canadian Congress and columnist at the Toronto Sun, is the Robert J. and Abby B. Levine Fellow at the Middle East Forum.