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Saturday, August 27, 2016

Worse Than Useless: Trudeau government's report on the terrorist threat to Canada ignores the cause of the terrorist threat to Canada

Support for terrorism at a Toronto al Quds Day rally
Canada's Public Safety Minister, Ralph Goodale, is a long-serving journeyman politician. He does what he's told reasonably well. The new report from his Ministry on the terrorist threat to Canada replicates the Trudeau government's ideological beliefs about terrorism and multiculturalism. Therefore it contains no surprises nor any particularly useful insights.

Though the report appears a useless exercise, it's worse than useless. It seeks to mask and deny the motivation behind the domestic terror threat. By refusing to identify the problem, it makes it that much harder to effectively deal with it. Moreover, this denial is so facile that it prevents any sort of proper understanding of the rationale that leads some Canadian Muslims to embrace Islamic terror groups.

The report states "the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), use violent extremist propaganda to encourage individuals to support their cause. This group is neither Islamic nor a state, and so will be referred to as Daesh (its Arabic acronym) in this Report."

That statement reveals a profound misunderstanding of the nature of religious zealotry in general and of Islamic terrorism in particular.

ISIS or ISIL does on occasion use what the report calls "violent extremist propaganda," showing beheadings and other forms of brutal violence. But the suggestion that they are recruiting adherents who are attracted by the thought, "gee, this can be my big chance to chop off someone's head" is as preposterous as stating that the Islamic state is not Islamic.

While ISIS' version of Islam thankfully is not the version embraced by most Muslims, it is an act of sheer ignorance to deny that it is based to a great extent on certain theological interpretations of Islamic texts and scholarship. ISIS' leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, is an Imam with a PhD in Islamic Theology. It would therefore follow to reason that he is in a better position to say what is or isn't "Islamic" than Ralph Goodale.

And it is Islam, rather than "violent extremism," that draws ISIS' adherents. Recruits to ISIS join as their way of showing complete, unrestrained faith and devotion. They are fulfilling the pillar of the religion that requires participation in Jihad. Those joining ISIS are willing to become martyrs and sacrifice as service to Allah in order to get the divine rewards of paradise as promised in exchange in the Koran (Surah 2: 193Surah 61:10-14, etc.) and Hadiths.

This is the inspiration that has led at least sixty Canadian Muslims to join ISIS's ranks and return to Canada.

While explicit support for ISIS in Canada's mosques is extremely rare, the promotion of violence and Islamic dominance over others is widespread. Yet there is absolutely no mention of Islam as a motive for domestic terrorism in Canada in the Public Safety Ministry's report.

Islamic terrorism and support for it in Canada is not limited to ISIS or al Qaida, the two terrorists groups which were the focus of the report. There is also significant support for terrorist groups such as Hezbollah and Hamas within some Canadian Muslim communities. Though Hezbollah in mentioned briefly as a terror group in the report, it omits noting that there are mosques and Islamic centers, such as the Islamic Society of York Region, where praise of Hezbollah and explicit support for terrorism is commonplace.

Hezbollah flags being waved at a
Toronto al Quds Day rally
Every year in Toronto thousands of Shiite Muslims participate in the so-called "al Quds Day" rallies, organized by the leadership of the Islamic Society of York Region and other local Shiite mosques, in which Hezbollah flags are brandished and terrorists are lauded. Only last month, Nadia Shoufani, a Mississauga teacher in a publicly financed school, spoke at Toronto's al Quds Day rally praising child murdering terrorists.  She was only one of many of the al Quds Day rally speakers to either praise or attempt to justify terrorism.

After Shoufani was suspended from her teaching position, an online petition emerged with over a thousand signatories including a number of university professors, such as Ryerson University instructors Alan Sears and Valentina Capurri, decrying the suspension.

In this type of environment, the normalization of support for terrorism within Canadian Muslim communities is being facilitated rather than combated.

The government does not want to tarnish all Muslims as terrorists. That may be a laudable instinct and certainly reflects the truth that most Canadian Muslims are peaceful and law-abiding. But it is also a shameful denial of the nature of Islamic theology as it is practiced in mosques and the dangerous amount of approval for terrorism as an acceptable methodology within Islam.  That is reflect to some extent by poll results showing that about half of America's Muslims feel that their religious leaders have not done enough to speak out against religious extremism. And that does not take into account people like the Islamic Society of York Region's Zafar Bangash who, through the al Quds Day rallies, actually encourage Islamic extremism.

There are a number of prominent Canadian Muslim reformers who have attempted to draw the government's attention to the growing problem of extremism in Canada's Islamic establishment. But in order to maintain the multicultural narrative that 'all is well and all cultures are equal,' those voices are rejected in favor of the established Islamic leadership that turns a blind eye to extremism and tries to paint any serious effort to recognize the problem as "Islamophobia."

In so doing, our government, through politically motivated reports like the one produced by Goodale's ministry, undermine the efforts of Canadian Muslim reformers, such as Professor Salim Mansur, Raheel Raza, and Tarek Fatah, who seek to expose and address the support for violent ideologies that have infested mainstream Islamic institutions in Canada.

Its intention may be to contribute to ending Islamic extremism and support for terrorism in Canada. Yet by ignoring the connection between Islam and terror, the Ministry of Public Safety's 2016 Report on the Terrorist Threat to Canada allows the entrenched Islamic establishment in Canada to deny the extent to which approbation of violence, anti-semtism and intolerance of mainstream Canadian culture is widespread in mosques and Islamic schools.

Until the government starts listening to Muslim reformers like Fatah, Raza, and Mansur about the nature and extent of the threat we face, it's unlikely the terrorist threat will be reduced.

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