Recently a Muslim community outreach event was held in Peel region, south of Toronto, addressing the radicalization of Muslim youth in Canada. It was organized by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) in co-operation with Peel Regional Police and the RCMP. Several Muslim organizations and members of the Muslim Canadian Congress, a progressive Muslim activist organization, attended to counter radical thoughts.
Writing for the Hamilton Spectator, Tahir Aslam Gora asks, ” Do such events help in eradicating radicalization?” adding,” Is it not an irony that we are fighting the Taliban thousands of miles away in Afghanistan, but are unable to fight them and their ideology here at home?”. Ironic indeed.
There are many who believe that our troops should not be fighting in the Middle East. The rhetoric, primarily from the leftist elite, seems to be that this war in Afghanistan was a U.S. led invasion with the Canadian government riding side-saddle on George W. Bush’s imperialist, colonialist war horse. Some are understandably overcome by grief with the tragic loss of life of Canadian troops, while still others cannot comprehend our involvement in a country whose circumstance of terror and barbaric truths apparently have “nothing to do with us”.
It has everything to do with us. Radical Islam’s extension to the west may be subtler in form, but is no less troubling or dangerous.
Tahir Aslam Gora continues in his column; “Islamists in Canada have infiltrated political parties and have taken positions in government offices, intelligence institutions and university campuses. They take shelter from a feel-good media and our human rights commissions and distract a vast, silent majority of Muslims who too often fall prey to their agenda”.
So while NATO coalition forces fight a war against radical Islam thousands of miles away, the softer side of jihad plants it’s roots firmly in Canadian soil. This is the essence of what we face presently in every province of this country. Author Mark Steyn writes in America Alone,” while the Mounties and others are reasonably efficient at breaking up cells and plots, they’re the symptoms, not the disease. It’s the ideological pipeline that needs to be dismantled”.
Recently I came across a Montreal Muslim community newspaper and aside from the usual smattering on prayer times, local events and community mosque addresses, was a hadith on jihad. If this otherwise benign community newspaper can contain a hadith on jihad with such nonchalance, then surely it would qualify as a clear example of the distraction befallen by the silent majority of Muslims at the hands of extremists to which Mr. Gore refers.
Take for example the upsurge of young Muslim women in Canada who are choosing to wear the hijab and burqua. They will tell you with confidence, that their choice is made to respect modesty, religious adherence, solidarity and liberation. Fair enough. But perhaps the hijab for some of these women has become a symbol of political solidarity to the ideology of extremist Islam and a liberation from western culture.
Imam Aly Hindy of the Salahuddin Islamic Centre in Scarborough routinely performs polygamous Muslim marriages. When informed of their illegality in Canada by authorities his response was clear: ” this is our religion and nobody can force us to do anything against our religion. If the laws of the country conflict with Islamic law, then I am going to follow Islamic law, simple as that”.
“Without recognizing and encouraging progressive Muslim’s roles and participation, our government and it’s intelligence resources won’t be able to fight Islamic terrorism” Mr. Gora suggests. But the few moderates who have been forthright in condemning their fire-breathing, religious counter-parts have been branded apostates, enemies of Islam and left with their lives threatened. How could they possibly be asked to shake down Canada’s House of Saudi when constables, spy agents and the culture they respect seek advice from the rabble-rousers? If moderates are given the secondary task of mediating, then we are seeking solutions from the wrong source and allowing extremism to maintain it’s strong-arm position. It is highly unlikely that progressive Muslim groups can extract the same kind of influence that Saudi funded pro-Islamist groups can. Such events do little to eradicate radicalization.
Canadian-Bengali author Hasan Mahmud believes if the Muslim community and Canadian society were to consider a modern interpretation of Islam it would help combat radicalism. To ask that we consider something so futile is absurd. Re-interpretation of Islam is an impossibility. Islam needs reformation; a reform that can only begin with Muslims themselves.
Increasing an atmosphere for Muslim reform in Canada should not include useless outreach events, multi-faith dialogue and bridge-building seminars. It should include a national culture that is confident and liberated from a bizarre reliance on self loathing followed by a fetish toward reflex apology. Perhaps then we can start to fight the extension of jihad.
The war on terror is not a war of nations; radical Islam is a global pursuit requiring a global response.