By Robert Sibley,
We are known, it is said, by the company we keep. If so, it is worthwhile to consider the recent controversy surrounding Defence Minister Peter MacKay’s cancellation of a speech by a prominent Muslim imam at the department’s Ottawa headquarters.
The minister was verbally shelled last Friday after revoking an invitation for Zijad Delic, the national executive direct of the Canadian Islamic Congress and the former imam the Jami’a Mosque in Richmond, B.C., to speak at a forum marking Islamic History Month in Ottawa.
MacKay’s decision “shattered any hopes” Muslims had in the political process, critics said. He displayed “knee-jerk intolerance” by caving into right-wing Christian zealots, said others.
Not everyone agrees with this judgment, including some Muslims. Salma Siddiqui, vice-president of the Muslim Congress of Canada, “strongly welcomed” MacKay’s decision, not only for exposing the fraud of Islamic History Month but also for acting in the best interests of national security.
“In the past few years we have seen so-called Islamic History Month turned into a propaganda machine for Islamists who want to introduce Shariah law and who wish to hide behind the cover of teaching history to infiltrate the highest levels of government in Ottawa,” Siddiqui said.
So, who’s right, the CIC or the MCC? Is the CIC genuinely committed to Canadian values as its leaders, including Delic, claim? Or do some of them, as Siddiqui implies, actually promote Islamist doctrine, even to the point of engaging in a campaign of taqiyya, or “holy deception,” whereby Canadians eventually accept Shariah?
Consider some of the evidence. One of MacKay’s reasons for cancelling Delic’s invitation was, according to spokesman Jay Paxton, because of the “extremist views promulgated by the Canadian Islamic Congress.”
There’s no question the CIC has been inclined to what most Canadians would regard as extremist positions. In 2006, the organization urged the federal government to remove two notorious groups, Hamas and Hezbollah, from its terrorist list, arguing the government had succumbed to the “intense pressure from the pro-Israel lobby.” Also that same year, former president, Mohamed Elmasry, repeatedly said on a television talk show that Israelis over the age of 18 were fair game for killing.
Delic, a Bosnian-Canadian who came to Canada in 1995, took up his position with the CIC in November 2006 — after Elmasry’s infamous remarks — and cannot be held responsible for the former president’s statements, and may even “totally disagree” with them, as he claims. Yet, even after nearly four years with Delic as executive director, the CIC still retains a radical reputation.
That may be due, in part, to the fact that Elmasry stayed on as president until the end of 2008, publishing often inflammatory diatribes. In May 2008, for example, he published an article entitled “Zionist Israel at 60 — A History Built on Ethnic Cleansing.” But even after he officially departed, Elmasry’s voice was still heard at the CIC. In February 2009, he denounced Israel as “the world’s only western-style racist regime.”
The current national president, Wahida Valiante, is also known for her attacks on Israel. In 2006, Valiante attacked “pro-Israeli Zionists (who) promote fear of Islam and Muslims through propaganda, and by playing manipulative mind-games on unsuspecting, decent mainstream Canadian and Americans.” In January 2010, she criticized Israel for its “cruel agenda” toward the Palestinians of Gaza.
Why, if Delic is such a moderate, would he attach himself to an organization with such an extremist cast? No doubt, he was brought on board to improve the CIC’s public profile. That is certainly his claim.
“Many things that no longer fit the (CIC) profile or its purpose or mission are not done any more,” he said in an interview. “I have in many ways Canadianized the CIC.”
That may be Delic’s intention, but in April 2007 he attached his name to a CIC statement condemning the Harper government “for not saying ‘no’ to Islamophobia” by not supporting a United Nations Human Rights Council resolution calling for “a global prohibition on the public defamation of religion.” “We are seeing more and more examples of how the Conservative government is working against our traditional Canadian values of respecting other religions,” the CIC claimed.
In true taqiyya style (if that’s not a contradiction in terms), the statement was pure dissimulation. What wasn’t mentioned was that Islam was the religion nobody would be allowed to “defame.” The Harper’s government’s refusal to violate the fundamental Western principles of free speech was construed by the CIC (and presumably by Delic) as evidence of Islamophobia.
Does Delic seriously think the Harper government is Islamophobic? It seems so. “We think (the accusation of Islamophobia) is accurate. The best example of Islamophobia is what happened last Friday,” he said in an interview, referring to his cancelled speech.
For its part, the CIC has made extensive use of the western concepts to attack western principles. In late 2007, for example, the CIC deployed the concept of hate speech against freedom of speech when it launched its notorious human rights complaints against Maclean’s magazine and columnist Mark Steyn.
Delic justified the complaint against Maclean’s, saying that it was a response to the magazine’s hate speech against Muslims. In an 2008 article for the Citizen, he said free speech has its limits.
Yet, that same year, the Canadian Islamic Congress joined with the Canadian Arab Federation in what might be construed as an act of hate speech.
In January 2008, the two organizations accused “the apartheid regime of the Jewish state” of engaging in “genocidal crimes against the indigenous people of Palestine.”
They also co-sponsored an essay contest inviting Canadian high school and university students to write an essay on “the ethnic cleansing of Palestine.”
Such language contradicts CIC claims to moderation, to say the least. Delic may be trying to curb the extremist rhetoric of others in the organization — “that is my intent, to have it fully in tune with Canadian society” — but until he cleans house completely, the minister was justified in uninviting him.
Robert Sibley is an editorial writer with the Citizen. His column appears Thursday. His new book, A Rumour of God, will be released from Novalis Publishing on Nov. 1.
© Copyright (c) The Ottawa Citizen
Read more: http://www.ottawacitizen.com/news/MacKay+right+uninvite+imam/3635721/story.html#ixzz11iuiqjJt