Accommodation or Intimidation?

‘White guilt’ helps Islamists, moderate Muslims say

By PAUL LUNGEN, Staff Reporter, Canadian Jewish News
Thursday, 05 March 2009

TORONTO — Two prominent Muslim personalities, both of them immigrants from east Asia, share a deep concern over the state of Canadian freedoms and values – a concern they say eclipses that of homegrown opinion-makers.

In their view, the liberal and left-leaning Canadian intelligentsia is wracked by guilt and contempt for their own intellectual heritage and they do all they can to stand up for radical Islamists whose agendas are more closely linked to the Muslim Brotherhood than to Canadian freedoms.

They, on other hand, the “good-looking” Muslims whom the mainstream media generally ignore, stand with John Stuart Mill in upholding individual freedom and traditional values associated with an earlier Canada.

So spoke Tarek Fatah and Salim Mansur at a recent lunchtime lecture at the offices of the Ontario Bar Association, sponsored by the Speakers Action Group and the Canadian Jewish Civil Rights Association, and in interviews with The CJN.

Fatah is founder of the Muslim Canadian Congress and author of Chasing a Mirage: The Tragic Illusion of an Islamic State. Mansur is a professor of political science at the University of Western Ontario and a syndicated columnist.

Fatah contrasted the influence of “good looking” Muslims like himself – by which he meant those who share Enlightenment values and have integrated into Canadian society – to “ugly” Muslims who dress as in Saudi Arabia, speak with heavy accents, promote jihad and claim to be authentic representatives of their faith. Canadian politicians fall all over themselves to curry favour with the latter group, giving them prestige and influence.

Meanwhile, “nine-to-five” Muslims, who are mostly concerned with making a living and getting ahead, are cowed into silence by the authority granted by Canadian officials to these traditional Muslim representatives, he said.

Fatah and Mansur also blasted comfortable Canadians who fail to stand up for traditional values and confront jihadists among them. Canadians’ freedoms stem from the Enlightenment, the American and French Revolutions, and the concept that citizens of a country are governed equally by man-made laws, Fatah said. Other societies were formed around inherited racial or religious commonalities, but those belong in the past. Yet, even today, some people choose to live in the 12th century and not in the 21st, he said.

In Canada today you can find books distributed at street fairs supported by PEN Canada, an advocacy organization for free expression, that advocate jihad, he said.

Muslims like himself argue that it’s nonsense to accept the premise that women should be able to testify in court while their faces are covered by burkas, yet women’s groups rush to the defence of these women, he said.

He also took aim at mainstream Jewish organizations, saying Canadian Jewish Congress and B’nai Brith Canada are too eager to foster relations with more traditional Muslim groups and ignore Muslims who prize Canadian values.

In an interview with The CJN, Fatah said “there is a tremendous amount of white guilt. The intelligentsia in this country in a selfish way tries to assuage this guilt. It caters to the most idiosyncratic behaviour of the immigrant and practices the racism of lower expectations. It sets standards of behaviour for our community, but when dealing with immigrants and especially the Muslim community, it does not expect them to live by the same standards.”

He said mosques treat women as second-class citizens – something that would not be tolerated in the broader society – yet still retain charitable status. That’s not something that other Canadians should be subsidizing through tax policy, he said.

Fatah said Saudi Arabia is financing Islamic groups in North America, including in the GTA, who preach “hatred of Western society” and promote jihad.

“Jews are right at the top of the jihad victims,” he continued. “You can be blamed for everything that goes wrong in the Islamic world. The occupation is the biggest gift to radical Islam. The State of Israel is the gift to Islamists that keeps on giving. Palestinians’ pain is used by the Islamists’ agenda.”

Asked about human rights commissions – several provincial and federal commissions were recently asked to look into complaints about written material that allegedly promoted contempt of Muslims – Fatah called them “a joke, a scandal.”

Commissioners are political appointees and one senior person at the Ontario Human Rights Commission “is openly supportive of the Islamist cause and believes in Shariah law,” he said.

In a question-and-answer period, Fatah was asked why moderate Muslims don’t demonstrate against their radical co-religionists. Turning the question around, he asked why mainstream Canadians don’t demonstrate against the Taliban. Why would such demonstrations be expected of Muslim immigrants who are trying to make a living and who escaped tyranny?

Mansur added: Would an Algerian, who escaped from a country where hundreds of thousands were killed by religious extremists protest against the leadership of a mosque that was controlled by those very factions from Algeria and risk the lives of their families in Algeria?

Mansur said Canadians may now be pushing back against the erosion of traditional values. You can see it in New Brunswick, where parents were angry that a school principal banned playing O Canada at the start of the day. (That policy was reversed).

You see it also in Quebec where people are “more assertive” in demanding that their values be retained, he said.