By Vincent Larouche
November 25, 2010
Published on Rue Frontenac
Translation by Point de Bascule
Version originale française ICI
The Quebec Government subsidizes a controversial Montreal Muslim school to the tune of $555,500 annually – this to a school that claims to be associated with the Muslim Brotherhood ideology. The Muslim Brotherhood is an extremist organization whose mission is to futher the establishment of Islamist governments. The Palestian Hamas grew out of the Muslim Brotherhood. Criticized by many for its affiliation, the institution opened its doors to Rue Frontenac in order to counter what it qualifies as “paranoia”.
Mr. Lazhar Aissaoui, the Dar Al Iman School Principal, in the Saint-Laurent borough of Montreal, says with assurance that “I invite my pupils to be tolerant more than they do in a public school”. The Principal, wearing a grey suit is calm and smiling as he leads the tour of his school and allows the Rue Frontenac photographer to take as many pictures as he wishes. The female teachers, their heads covered with an Islamic veil, have an amused look.
Lazhar Aissaoui wants to show that he as nothing to hide. He is aware that his school has its critics. Dar Al Iman school states on its website that it is affiliated with the Muslim Association of Canada (MAC), a Muslim charity. Lazhar Aissaoui is also on the MAC board of directors which, reported approximately $ 16 million worth of assets, and $ 9 million in revenues in 2009, according to the Canada Revenu Agency.
On its website, MAC declares that “Its modern roots can be traced to the Islamic revival of the early twentieth century, culminating in the movement of the Muslim Brotherhood“. It also says that “This movement influenced Islamic activities, trends and intellectual discourse throughout the world including those of Muslims who came to Canada in search of freedom, education and better opportunities.” Although it remains perfectly legal in Canada, the Muslim Brotherhood movement is highly controversial within the Muslim community.
Literal Interpretation of the Quran
Advocating a literal interpretation of the Quran and a complete Islamization of society, the movement gave birth to the Palestinian Hamas, a group that has set up suicide bombings and attacks against the secular Palestinian movements.
The founder of the Muslim Canadian Congress, author Tarek Fatah, is outraged that a school endorsing the ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood is subsidized by the Quebec government. “It’s unfortunate that taxpayers’ money fund them. We should be worried. MAC is not a religious organization; it’s a political organization. They are against Western civilization and the essence of their philosophy is anti-Semitic, anti-gays and anti-women,” he protested. Salma Siddiqui, vice-president of the Muslim Canadian Congress also denounced that “they have taken the religion and turned it into a political matter. They believe in a strong Islamist ideology and they want to import it here” she said.
During the interview, the school Principal, Lazhar Aissaoui swiftly responded to what he considers to be paranoid and unfair accusations on behalf of the Muslim Canadian Congress. “Nowhere in the world is the Muslim Brotherhood considered like terrorists except by Tarek Fatah”, he said with indignation. He added that his organization has no “organizational” link with the Muslim Brotherhood, although it shares their vision and philosophy of religion. “We’re not the Muslim Brotherhood but it does not mean we have anything against them,” he added. Lazhar Aissaoui condemns terrorism and specifies that the 9-11 attacks were a horrible crime and that “crime has no religion”.
When we asked him about his willingness to establish an Islamic State and Islamic tribunals, he appeared annoyed. “Why bring up this question here? There is no plan to apply and import this in Canada. That’s for Muslim countries”, he said. “What we tell our members is: ‘make sure that you are good Muslims, you and your family’. As the society is a network of families, so society will become Muslim”, explains the Principal.
The Department of Education Permit
He stresses that the 238 pupils of Dar Al Iman School strictly follow the Department of Education curriculum, that requires 25 hours of weekly teaching time. The school adds two hours of Arabic, one hour of Islamic studies and one hour of Quranic studies.
The Department of Education confirms that the institution has been approved as a private school eligible for State funding since 2006-2007 for the primary level, and since 2007-2008 for preschool. It receives just over half a million dollars a year.
“It’s important to know that MAC is not the holder of the permit granted by the Department for private education. The permit holder is really the Institut pour l’enseignement Dar Al Iman. Its the lencensee who receives the subsidy from the Deparment, not MAC”, specified spokesman Simon Fortin.
Before being accredited, the Institute that manages the school on behalf of MAC had to demonstrate its respect for Quebec’s educational standards” added the spokesman. However, civil servants should further their investigations, suggests the former Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) executive Michel Juneau-Katsuya. “I would guess that they are monitored by CSIS that they will keep in mind the Muslim Brotherhood’s past. They may not represent an outlook as harsh and radical as before, but they still promote a very Islamist conception of society. The fact that they receive money for a school should spark questions from civil servants”.