Canadian Muslims face weird allegations
Author: Mohammed Azhar Ali Khan (He is identified at the bottom of the article as “a retired Canadian journalist, civil servant and refugee judge.”)
Source: Saudi Gazette, March 14, 2014
Original title: Canadian Muslims face weird allegations
Canadian Muslims are grateful to live in the world’s most welcoming country. But they know that some 10 percent of the population is racist, anti-Semitic or Islamophobic.
The Macdonald-Laurier Institute, a right-wing think tank, arranged a debate in Ottawa on whether Muslim immigration is a threat to Canada or the West. The panel produced inflammatory rhetoric.
One panelist was the Toronto Globe and Mail columnist, Douglas Saunders, who wrote a book, The Myth of the Muslim Tide, on this subject. Saunders has won top newspaper awards in Canada and the Donner Prize for the best book on public affairs for his book Arrival City.
Saunders, who has covered a dozen Muslim countries, argued that although their numbers are increasing in Canada, Muslims remain a small percentage of the population. Secondly, they immigrated to escape persecution or poverty or for a better life. They appreciate the opportunities in Canada and the West. Further, their fertility rates fall substantially in the West, and they are as tolerant of others in the West as are followers of other faiths.
The other columnist, Salim Mansur, associate professor at University of Western Ontario, was born in Calcutta and claims that because he was born in a “wreckage” of Islam he understands Islam better. His talk showed that he does not.
Mansur stated that the number of Muslims is growing in Canada substantially. It is true that Canada’s population has indeed become diverse and is becoming even more so. Canada accepts immigrants for economic survival because its birthrate is low. But the immigrants come from everywhere and are followers of diverse faiths.
Mansur said that many Muslims migrate to undermine Canada from within. However, Muslims are contributing to Canada as Senators, Members of Parliament or provincial legislatures, academics, physicians, psychologists, businessmen, engineers and so on. Some have won the Order of Canada, the country’s highest award.
He asserted that Muslim immigrants make demands from Canada and that this undermines Canadian values. Muslims in fact make no extra demands. Mansur referred to the “talk of Shariah” in Ontario but did so out of context.
Ontario has allowed Christians and Jews to resolve family disputes through their religious institutions to reduce the cost and delays in the Canadian judicial system. When the same arrangement was suggested for Muslims, the move was opposed by some Canadians, including Muslims. The matter was dropped.
Mansur cited Momin Khawaja, a Canadian who was convicted for an attempt to aid terrorism in the UK. Some other Muslim terrorists were also found guilty and are in jail.
In a Muslim population of more than a million these are a few random cases. Studies show that Muslims account for only a small percentage of terror attempts in the West. Mansur implied that all Muslim immigrants could be potential threats.
Mansur stated that Muslims carry an ideology that is hostile to the West, Islamism seeks the destruction of free society, Friday sermons incite Muslims, the Muslim world incubates terrorism and that Canada is importing potential terrorists.
Mansur did not indicate where he got this information. I have attended Friday sermons in Ottawa, Toronto, Montreal, the Atlantic provinces, Manitoba, Alberta and British Columbia. Most sermons preached integrity, civic duty, polite manners, respect for women, good neighborliness and obedience to the laws of Canada.
Often church groups and university students attend such services and ask questions. Many Muslim organizations have active interfaith programs through which they mingle with fellow Canadians of other faiths. In many cities Muslims prayed at churches before they built their mosques. As president of the Ottawa Muslim Association in the 1970s, I helped arrange programs in Ottawa with Jewish and Christian groups to celebrate our joint heritage as followers of the Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him). The Muslim Coordinating Council seeks to build relations with other Canadians.
Mansur stated that while Christianity and Judaism had reformation 500 years ago, Muslims display Bedouin savagery and have caused the most killings in the last century.
He ignored the killings that were not caused by Muslims – the two world wars, the Holocaust, the Korean war, the Soviet crackdown in Hungary, the man-made starvation in Ukraine, the killing of a million Algerians by the French occupation forces, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the Indochina war, the genocide in Kampuchea and Rwanda, the killings in Bosnia, China’s Cultural Revolution, the invasion of Iraq, the forced displacements of Palestinians, Sri Lanka’s civil war, the atrocities in the Congo and Uganda and the current killings and displacement of Muslims in Myanmar and the Central African Republic.
True, many Muslim countries have experienced savagery, oppression, corruption and human rights violations. But to condemn them and ignore the killings and atrocities by others does not promote an honest public debate. It is no service to the truth or to one’s adopted country to try to divide Canadians because of one’s own prejudices.