The National Post's Jonathan Kay is smart, witty, and an eminently reasonable guy. He's also one of Canada's most insightful, articulate journalists. If that wasn't explicit enough, I like the guy.
It's that reasonableness, I would assume, that propels him to resist hysteria and oppose leaping upon any bandwagon seeking the vilification of an entire community. Because of the significant support for terrorism among the Imams and congregants of Canada's mosques, Muslims by-and-large have been unfairly portrayed as supporting terrorism, when in fact the opposite is true. Most Canadian Muslims are law-abiding citizens who detest terrorism, and indeed, like other faith-communities in Canada with their religions' houses of worship, only a minority of Muslims even attend mosque with any regularity.
It seems in the spirit of turn-of-the 20th Century newspaperman Finley Peter Dunne's quip that his business was "to afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted," that Jon has lashed back at Sun News' attack on Liberal party leader Justin Trudeau's recently publicized visit to a Montreal mosque linked to extremism and the recruitment of terrorists.
Bashing both Sun News and its audience, Jon wrote, "some of the network’s journalists seem to regard themselves as semi-official members of Stephen Harper’s opposition-research team. And since many Sun viewers already suspect that Trudeau was born in Kenya along with Barack Obama, its Muslim Menace programming presumably plays well to the network’s base. " But the crux of Jon's complaint seems to be that reports of the Assuna Annabawiyah's links to terrorism are a few years old, and therefore invalid, writing:
"In fact, the network botched the story: In the clip that Sun News had loaded on its web site as of 2pm on Thursday, the host reads out an old statement from the U.S. government, declaring that the mosque is among nine institutions where “known al-Qaeda members are recruited, facilitated or trained.” But the statement actually didn’t say “are.” It said “were.” (You can actually see the text in the printed version of the U.S. memo, which appears on the screen as the Sun host misquotes the key word.) As this CBC report from 2011 indicates, the reference relates to several jihadis who passed through Montreal in the late 1990s. "I'm not sure how convincing a retort that is. The Assuna Annabawiyah was listed by US intelligence sources as Canada's equivalent of London's notorious terror-linked Finsbury Park Mosque. One of the Assuna mosque's former Imams is currently being held in Guantanamo for terrorism and one of its former congregants is currently on the FBI's Most Wanted Terrorist List with a $5 Million dollar bounty on his head, and that's just two examples of many. As recently, not a decade ago but last year, Montreal's La Presse reported that Bernard Drainville, Quebec's Minister for Democratic Institutions, asked that Revenue Canada investigate the mosque for concerns about its abusing its charitable status.
That same La Presse report stated that the mosque's facebook page had a post saying that it is "incumbent upon the Muslim woman to stay in her home and not get out except in case of urgent need, and then in this case under strict conditions." Assuna Annabawiyah's facebook page still contains a video giving helpful hints on how to avoid shaking hands with a woman.
Is this proof on ongoing support for terror? Perhaps not. But its history and the values the Assuna Annabawiyah mosque espouses are hardly of the sort that a responsible political leader should give implicit approbation with a high-profile visit.
It was a serious error of judgment by Justin Trudeau to make a pilgrimage to such a place to pander for votes, but one that is completely in character for the foolhardy Liberal leader. However pointing out such matters is not only in the purview of journalists, but is their responsibility.
Sun News was living up to that responsibility by highlighting Justin Trudeau's visit to the Assuna Annabawiyah mosque. Perhaps rather than using the controversy of that visit to bash a rival and mitigate Trudeau's gaffe, the National Post should be exploring whether such a party leader is fit to govern Canada.
(Updated Aug. 7 /14)