Harper learning to separate Islam from terrorism: Siddiqui | Toronto Star

Signs of change noted by one of the harsher critics of the Harper Government, Haroon Siddiqui:

Harper himself avoids Canadian Muslims except for a selected few, such as the minority Ismailis. The prime minister and his Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney have pointedly courted those who’ve come to Canada fleeing persecution in Muslim lands — Christians and Ahmadis from Pakistan, Christians from Egypt, Lebanon, Iraq and Syria, Bahais from Iran, etc. Some openly spit hatred at Muslims, yet are cosseted by the Harperites.

Contrast this with Barack Obama and David Cameron of Britain who do extensive outreach to Muslims, at home and abroad.

And unlike Obama who speaks knowledgeably and confidently about how terrorism violates Islamic principles, Harper has been clumsy, speaking instead of “Islamic terrorism.”

But he is learning.

Last month in opening the Aga Khan Museum, he said:“The Aga Khan has devoted an extraordinary amount of time, toil and resources to the ideals of Islamic culture and history. In doing so, His Highness has greatly contributed to demystifying Islam, throughout the world, by stressing its social traditions of peace, of tolerance and of pluralism. This is a vision of Islam of which all Canadians can be proud especially when a contrary and violent distortion of that vision so regularly dominates the news.”

A few days later, speaking in New York, Harper went against the holy grail of Islamophobes, that terrorism emanates mostly from mosques. Speaking of radicalized youth, he said:

“Our experience in Canada has been that their connection to the Muslim community is often extremely tangential. A surprising number of these people have no background in Islam whatsoever. They’re individuals who for whatever reason drift to these kinds of causes. Even those with backgrounds in Islam, they’re often people who are not participants in mosques . . . They’re off on kind of a radical, political fringe.

“Our security and intelligence people would tell you that a good relationship with our Muslim community has actually really helped to identify a lot of these threats before they become much more serious.”

Harper learning to separate Islam from terrorism: Siddiqui | Toronto Star.

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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