Skip to comments.Canadian Muslim community dealing with fallout from leaders' remarks
Posted on 11/06/2004 10:34:23 AM PST by Destro
November 6, 2004
Canadian Muslim community dealing with fallout from leaders' remarks
By STEVE MERTL
VANCOUVER (CP) - Analysts linked to the intelligence community say they worry North America's Muslim community is being radicalized, but some Canadian Muslims reject suggestions their community is monolithic or intolerant.
The concern over radicalization surfaced last month amid reaction to intolerant remarks from two Muslim leaders and reports that one of the men's followers turned up dead with Muslim rebels in Chechnya.
The incidents triggered a predictable spasm of outrage and demands the "Muslim community" distance itself from those viewpoints.
Critics say moderation within the Muslim community is only a facade concealing a bitter emnity towards western liberal, pluralist society and supporting militant violence internationally.
"There's certainly some evidence that some of them - perhaps not all of them - have a different story to tell when they're speaking not in English, usually Arabic," says retired Canadian diplomat Martin Collacott.
Muslims complain they're being held to a higher standard than other Canadians and that, if anything, is forcing them further on the defensive.
"The Muslim community is not monolithic," says Faisal Kutty, a Toronto lawyer and board member of Council on Islamic-American Relations Canada.
"We come from so many ethnic backgrounds. For many Muslims, the Middle East issue is just one of many issues they have to deal with."
October marked the beginning of Ramadan, Islam's holiest month, but it was a tough month for some Muslims in Canada.
It started with an allegation that Rudwan Khalil, a Sudanese-born Canadian Muslim killed in Chechnya, was working with separatist rebels bent on creating an Islamic state on Russia's southern doorstep.
He and a friend disappeared in August on their way to Azarbaijan, which borders Chechnya, to attend the wedding of a former landed immigrant who's also missing.
Then it was learned Younus Kathrada, a teacher at the Islamic centre all three attended in Vancouver, had preached the virtues of jihad and called Jews "brothers of the monkeys and the swine."
About the same time, prominent Canadian Muslim Mohamed Elmasry told a Toronto TV host he believed all Israeli adults were legitimate targets for Palestinian suicide bombers because they were liable for military service.
Several Muslim organizations disavowed Elmasry's comments, and those of Kathrada, whose provocative lectures were posted on his centre's website.
Collacott, a former ambassador to Lebanon and Syria who once headed the Foreign Affairs Department's counterterrorism policy unit, said Elmasry has had a history of being a moderate.
"And so presumably has Kathrada. But it turns out they were harbouring some quite different views."
Canada has about 600,000 Muslims, compared with about 330,000 Jews.
At a median age of about 28, they're the youngest demographic of any major religion and almost two-thirds are immigrants, the majority arriving since 1991, according to 2001 census data.
Observers tied to the Canadian or U.S. intelligence communities worry cadres of Saudi Arabian-trained clerics and teachers are pushing the community in a fundamentalist direction.
"In this way, a number of Muslim communities have been substantially radicalized," says Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, senior terrorism analyst at the Washington-based Investigative Project.
Kathrada, for instance, was born in South Africa but trained in Saudi Arabia, where the strict Wahabi strain of Sunni Islam predominates.
"Reports from Saudi mosques indicate exactly the preaching mirrored by Mr. Kathrada," says the Investigative Project's Brian Hecht.
"It would be incredibly unsurprising if similar sentiments were being preached in Wahabi mosques elsewhere."
Scott Newark, former security adviser to the Ontario government, speculates there's a backlash among some Muslims against the corrupting influences of Western society.
It provides a rationale for some Canadian Muslims - most famously the al-Qaida-linked Khadr family, to join or at least support the jihadists - he says.
"We need to ask ourselves the question that how is it that people within our supposedly secular, tolerant society appear to be being groomed and brainwashed and sent off to engage in this kind of conduct?" says Newark, one-time executive director of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police.
Muslim groups issued staunch rejections of Kathadra's and Elmasry's comments but faced another volley of criticism after the Canadian Islamic Council refused to fire Elmasry as its president.
Kutty said the council is one organization and doesn't speak for all Muslims.
"I think the fact that certain individuals make certain statements - yes, they're leaders - but the kind of guilt by association is what I find problematic," he says.
"Already Muslims feel under attack from all angles and this might reinforce that defensiveness."
Kutty and his partner Naseer (Irfan) Syed, legal counsel for the Coalition of Muslim Organizations, also dismiss claims moderate Muslims are cowed into keeping quiet.
Some, says Syed, are on the fringe of Muslim life with agendas of their own.
But they concede some Saudis - non-government benefactors within the kingdom or the government's Ministry of Religious Affairs - have helped subsidize mosques and train imams.
"None of the imams I know who receive that are told what to say and what not to say," says Syed, who says he regularly visits a half-dozen Toronto-area mosques.
"The Saudi government's control over mosques in North America is I think exaggerated," adds Kutty.
"I go to many mosques and I'll hear them criticize the Muslim world leadership for being corrupt and not acting in the interests of Muslims."
But Syed also notes criticism of Israel or of U.S. Mideast policy is safe ground.
"They know they can do that without fear," he says.
Far from shunning the West's openness and pluralism, Kutty says most Muslim immigrants deliberately choose it over their homelands.
"If you go to these Muslim countries, the same (Western) influences are there," he says.
"It's worse (there) because they don't get the whole picture. They've picked up all the pop-culture qualities of Western society, none of the positive values."
Another intelligence expert warns continually questioning the loyalty of Canadian Muslims as a group serves only to isolate them more.
But Michel Juneau-Katsuya, president of the Ottawa-based Northgate Group and a former CSIS officer, says the problem is nowhere near as serious as the influence Sikh separatist militants once had in Canada's Sikh community before the 1985 Air India bombing, or the fear Canadian Tamils had of the Tamil Tiger separatists from Sri Lanka.
"In terms of the radical Islamists in Canada . . . it is not even near from what we experienced with the Sikh community," he says.
"It does play a certain role in some communities but it's not necessarily the greatest influence."
The two largest Islamic fundlementatlist communities outside of the Arab world: North Vancouver, BC and Windsor, ON. WELCOMED quests of the Canada...and living next door to us.
tick tock the clock is ticking shut these leaders up kick them out, change,or face what will be coming if this keeps up all over the world..Do you think europe will continue to take whats happening there or revert to their old ways (re germany 1930-45) it's in their blood..how many dutch have to be killed for making a film?how many schools have to have headscarves forced on them..tick tock tick tock
When will Americans wake up? I figure when there are more Muslims than Jews in America is when American media will wake up.
No - reallly?
But this is supposedly the religion of love - and they love everyone. Oh - never mind that evil Koran. No one reads that anyway, talking about the two standards one for the 'enlightened', the other for the infidel.
Well tell me about the Windsor community, seriously I live there.
Some slammie leader said that once they enter the mosques there are no moderate moslems. In other word, the mohammedans will play nice when they are out in the open, and on TV, but once they slither into their mosques, or once they are behind closed doors, they are all fanatics.
Open ANWR, tighten the Saudi pipeline to the US, pressure for democratic reforms, further surround Iran, surround the "Stans", bring the "terror thing" to a halt.
The Euros are waking up, but need our help to change the EU policy on dealing with Muslim immigrants. I really hope we end our refugee asylum policy. No good can come out of inviting more Muslim immigrants here.
I wonder if a similar statistic is true of the USA. We've got to put an end to this. Most especially we've got to end the lottery system instituted by Ted Kennedy. Why do we have to take pot-luck, we should be able to pick and chose who comes to this country.
Muslims complain they're being held to a higher standard than other Canadians and that, if anything, is forcing them further on the defensive.Yeah, it must be someone else's fault that all Moslems support terror, terrorists, terrorism... How dare anyone hold them to a standard that requires they not do this.
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Let me assist this poor immigrant, who can't be expected to always use the right English word. Muslims in Canada (and the USA) are more likely to be seen as neolithic.
"...the al-Khadr family..."
In my opinion the worst of the president's missteps in the war was his releasing the murderous little jitbag Omar al-Khadr from Gitmo, at the urging of Canadian PM Jean Cretin... excuse me, Chretien. Chretien is his name, cretin his identity -- not quite the same thing.
Omar faked injury, backshot and then executed an American who spared his life and was going to give him first aid, Chris Speer. (There's no gratitude like Muslim gratitude). Omar is back in Canada, the honoured guest of Cretin, gloating that he got away with killing an American -- it has made him a big man in his lawless family and in their lawless mosque, and, evidently, in all Canuckistan.
Boy howdy, are all those Hollyweird types desperately seeking to emigrate to the Future Islamic Republic of Canuckistan in for a shock.
Criminal Number 18F
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