HASSAN: Enough with the feminists who stay silent on Islam

Some valid points (e.g., on polygamy, FGM), less so with respect to the hijab:

The usual gusto accompanied International Women’s Day on March 8, with enlightened people of both sexes commending the strides we have made. Women debated our roles in this day and age, and how our lot can be further improved.

Needless to say, even after decades of public conversations on women’s rights, their plight in undeveloped nations has not changed much. In fact, in this politically correct era there are some nominal Western feminists who say too little about the suffering of third world women.

As always, developed countries have fared better. The biggest news is the #MeToo movement, which has prompted public conversations on sexual harassment faced by women in various settings, but especially the workplace. Actions bring reactions, however; while the movement has raised awareness on these issues, some employers may now fear to hire women because they anticipate sexual allegations.

There were already issues specific to Canadian women, such as workplace discrimination and lack of comparable wages — an issue our prime minister addressed at Davos. Accounting for missing and murdered aboriginal women is an enduring problem, as are violence and abuse in these communities.

Radical ideologies also turn many Muslim women into victims, even in Canada. This is most offensive to me, as a Muslim woman. Feminist groups, who usually expound a leftist worldview, have often defended discriminatory practices in the name of a “new feminism.”

An opinion piece by Nakita Valerio on the CBC website states that “New feminism is based on the understanding that there is nothing inherently liberating about one expression over another. Rather, the liberation is in a woman’s choice and part of modern gender equality rests on the acceptance of diverse womanhood on her own terms, regardless of one’s background.”

Really? So, by extension, there is nothing inherently constraining in any expression of womanhood. Therefore, a woman who is self-assured, economically independent and capable of making career choices is no more liberated than one who lives her entire life according to the whims of her husband? A woman who “chooses” to let her husband take a second wife because her religion permits it, and then suffers all the consequences of a polygamous union, is as liberated as one who rejects such an arrangement as repugnant?

Let’s extend this argument. Submission to the requirements of one brand of Islam has convinced some women to support the heinous practice of female genital mutilation. Their understanding of religion has brainwashed them into considering this beneficial. Such a procedure subjects them or their daughters to pain and poor health. Are they more liberated because they have defined their femininity in these terms?

Clothing matters less than mutilation. The niqab and hijab may be “mere” pieces of cloth, but the expectation that women will wear them remains an important issue. The requirement is rooted in patriarchy, and it is hard to accept that any woman who “chooses” to wear these garments has somehow defined her womanhood in a liberated way.

The new feminists have regressed if they do not call out such practices with the fervour of #MeToo. Their silence endorses a way of thinking which keeps countless women in permanent submission.

Next International Women’s Day it would be encouraging if the women’s movement redefined some of its goals as universal rather than relative. Culture can never be an excuse.

via HASSAN: Enough with the feminists who stay silent on Islam | Toronto Sun

The Tories approach a point of no return and other commentary on M-103

Terry Glavin’s usual trenchant commentary:

During the debate on the motion in the House, Khalid said she defines Islamophobia as “the irrational hate of Muslims that leads to discrimination.” That’s perfectly fine, too, but what makes no sense was Khalid’s statement that she refused Conservative MP (and party leadership hopeful) Erin O’Toole’s offer to help win unanimous consent for her motion by tightening it up, because that would have meant “watering it down.”

In a parallel topsy-turviness, Joly has objected to David Anderson’s alternative motion, which replicates Khalid’s motion except for the ambiguous term Islamophobia, because it’s a “weakened and watered down version.”

It’s true to say, as Scott Reid does, that seemingly benign injunctions against “Islamophobia” have been put to the squalid purpose of placing the Muslim religion and the practices of authoritarian Islamic regimes off limits to criticism. But it’s also fair to say that “anti-Muslim bigotry” doesn’t sufficiently capture the full-throated paranoid lunacy animating the nutcase wing of the Conservative support base these days.

“Racism” doesn’t quite cover it. “Hatred” doesn’t quite get at it. Whatever term you like, it’s more than merely ironic that those who make the most hysterical claims about clandestine Islamic conspiracies at the centre of Justin Trudeau’s government are also the ones shouting the loudest that an irrational fear of Islam isn’t even a thing.

It’s not as though the Liberals are blameless in all this. They could have welcomed O’Toole’s efforts at reaching out to find a compromise, but they didn’t. And the Liberals do seem quite content to have the Conservatives squirming and chafing against the appearance that the reason they object to the term Islamophobia is that they themselves are Islamophobic, whatever that might mean. It is not as though it bothers the Liberals that the Conservatives are stuck with the crazy talk coming from several of the leadership candidates these days.

Trudeau may have given away more than he intended last week when he was confronted at a community meeting in Iqaluit about why he reneged on his electoral reform promises. Raising the spectre of proportional representation opening the door to “fringe” parties, Trudeau asked, rhetorically: “Do you think that Kellie Leitch should have her own party?”

Clearly, Trudeau doesn’t want that. For starters, it would mean decent Conservatives couldn’t be tarred so easily with the indecencies committed by the party’s fringe factions. It would mean bigot-baiting the Conservative Party would be that much harder to do. In the meantime, it’s up to the Conservatives to get themselves sorted, and after the sordid events of the past few days, their options are limited:

Isolate, quarantine, amputate or purge.

Source: The Tories approach a point of no return – Macleans.ca

Campbell Clark in the Globe:

It’s one thing for MPs to say they oppose the motion. But it’s another to accept the bogus reasoning.

One is the slippery-slope argument. Mr. Levant is telling Canadians that once a Commons committee starts studying the vague notion of Islamophobia and what to do about it, they’re going to propose laws that make it illegal to criticize Islam, and restrict free speech.

The obvious weakness in that is that Motion M-103 doesn’t even ask the committee to propose laws, nor could it force them – let alone the kind that stifle free speech. If they ever did, MPs could vote against it then. And it still could not violate constitutional guarantees on free speech.

If Conservative objections really were about a vague term, some deal-making would be in order. There are arguments that in some countries the term has been used to refer to any criticism of Islam.

Of course, this motion calls for MPs to study it, so they could define it.

But Liberals were unwilling to compromise when the Conservatives asked them to change “Islamophobia” to “hatred for Muslims.”

But it’s not about the word. Ironically, it’s about fear.

All this began when Montreal-area MP Frank Baylis started a petition last year to assert that all Muslims should not be equated with a few extremists. NDP Leader Tom Mulcair later asked for unanimous consent for a motion condemning Islamophobia – and got it on his second attempt on Oct. 26.

Conservative House Leader Candice Bergen responded to Mr. Mulcair’s motion with her own, condemning religious discrimination.

Both were adopted. The word Islamophobia was fine for Conservatives then, before they got scared.

Source:  Conservative MPs are afraid of Motion 103, and things it can’t do 

The contrary view, and the conflation of Islamophobia/anti-Muslim hate with free speech concerns, comes from Farzana Hassan in the Sun, who appears not to have understood what the motion covers and what it does not:

When we challenge a certain Islamic practice, we are careful to exclude the moderate majority and focus our attention on a small segment of the Muslim community. Yet some claim that even such discussion conflates the radicals with the moderates.

If Khalid believes such discussions include all Muslims, she is unwittingly admitting that all Muslims are indeed like the fundamentalists.

Khalid is mistaken if she believes any rational discussion on Islamic practice castigates all Muslims. She must understand that any well-intentioned and constructive discussion on a religious practice or ideology is a fundamental right of every Canadian.

There is no phobia of Islam in Canada. There is genuine resentment toward orthodox Islam. But it has little to do with the usual public discourse.

Some practices, whether we discuss them in public or not, are commonly known to be associated with orthodox Islam, such as polygamy, wife battery and ostracism of religious minorities.

It is up to moderate Muslims to distance themselves from these outrages as much as possible. So far no robust public challenge to such practices has emerged from moderate segments of the community.

Without such a grassroots challenge any social observer, professional or amateur, can form any opinion on orthodox Islam, whether positive or negative.

We know some Muslims are working to institute gender equality, and others are partners with the government in fighting terror. However, these efforts need to become the norm rather than the exception. Once this takes place, the world will automatically begin to see Muslims in positive light.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has talked about finding the right balance between protecting a religious minority and also protecting our Charter rights.

The answer to his dilemma is simple: Do not put the slightest dent in our right to free speech.

To balance this, the prime minister can take more measures to protect the security of all minorities with tighter law enforcement and stricter punishments for alleged offenders like Alexandre Bissonnette.

Source: I’m a liberal Muslim and I reject M-103

Lastly, an article on Iqra Khalid’s reading out the hateful emails and tweets she has received, providing proof of the validity of M-103 and its specific reference:

The Liberal MP who tabled an anti-Islamophobia motion says she has been inundated with hate mail and death threats.

Mississauga, Ont. MP Iqra Khalid told the House of Commons today she received more than 50,000 emails in response to M-103, many of them with overt discrimination or direct threats.

“I have asked my staff to lock the office behind me as I now fear for their safety,” she said. “I have asked them not to answer all phone calls so they don’t hear the threats, insults and unbelievable amount of hate shouted at them and myself.”

She described a “chilling” video posted on YouTube that called her a terrorist sympathizer and disgusting human being.

“‘I’m not going to help them shoot you, I’m going to be there to film you on the ground crying. Yeah, I’ll be there writing my story with a big fat smile on my face. Ha ha ha. The Member got shot by a Canadian patriot,'” she read, quoting from the video.

And that, she said, was just tip of the iceberg. Here are some other messages she received and read in the House:

  • “Kill her and be done with it. I agree she is here to kill us. She is sick and she needs to be deported.”
  • “We will burn down your mosques, draper head Muslim.”
  • “Why did Canadians let her in? Ship her back.”
  • “Why don’t you get out of my country? You’re a disgusting piece of trash and you are definitely not wanted here by the majority of actual Canadians.”

Khalid said she has also received many messages of support.

Source: ‘Kill her and be done with it’: MP behind anti-Islamophobia motion reads out hate mail

Multiculturalism must be a two-way street | Hassan

Farzana Hassan makes valid points regarding the proposed Brossard Muslim housing development (the local mosque does not support such segregation), although it is not unique to Islam: fundamentalists from all religions generally demand more accommodation, and be less open and tolerant:

Even the issues of living space and location have an ethical dimension. Is it socially desirable to allow the creation of religious, cultural and ethnic enclaves and ghettoes, such as the one proposed for one hundred Muslim families in the suburbs of Montreal, or would such localities defeat the very idea of multiculturalism?

The Quebec plan does just the opposite. By definition, any enclave designed to house a community with a shared background proliferates monoculturalism.

The idea was reportedly inspired by the desire to have interest-free housing for Muslims concerned about violating sharia regulations on usury. To that end, solutions, some of which in essence are the same as any other mortgage plans, have already been proposed and implemented.

But using some religious pretext to shut out non-Muslims from a housing development is not the answer. Many Canadian mosques have already instituted culturally acceptable banking systems.

Nabil Warda, the Montreal developer who proposed the project, has stated the following: “Nowhere is it written: ‘Listen guys, we don’t want any nasty Québécois or Canadians in this place.’ We never said that. We never intended that. It is not even my way of thinking.” Nevertheless, the very existence of such an enclave would be exclusionary.

It is time spokespeople from some immigrant communities take a hard look at likely repercussions of their own actions. When Canadians have to endure this housing proposal and the upcoming “Reviving the Islamic Spirit” conference – a gathering to promote orthodox belief – it is hardly surprising that political leaders like Kellie Leitch call for a Canadian values test for immigrants.

Tolerance of “the other”, even in an avowedly multicultural society like Canada, must be limited.

As surely as we cannot possibly tolerate polygamy or the mistreatment of women, we cannot approve of discriminatory housing. Such actions cause rancor with host societies and ultimately make victims of immigrants themselves.

While most Canadian Muslims are well integrated into Canadian society and are happy to interact with other Canadians, fundamentalists and Islamists continue to draw justified negative press through their outrageous demands for faith accommodations.

They withdraw from the multicultural process by locking themselves up from the outside world. Whether it is exemptions from music class for their children, or creating their own sharia-compliant silos, these fundamentalists insist on imposing their inflexible mores on others.

Fundamentalists asserting these rights on the basis of Charter freedoms must assert whatever cultural identities they have within a common context and participate in the multicultural experience without reservation.

To be candid, this is an Islamist issue. I see no devout Hindus, Sikhs, Jews or Christians seeking such far-reaching faith accommodations.

Source: Multiculturalism must be a two-way street | Hassan | Columnists | Opinion | Toro

Farzana Hassan: It’s unjust to revoke the citizenship of refugees’ children

Good piece by Farzana Hassan on the streamlined revocation process, without right to a hearing or equivalent procedural protections. Welcome contrast to much of the other commentary in the Sun:

Monsef’s mother filed an application stating her children were born in Afghanistan, but it turns out the MP was born just across the border in Iran, during her mother’s several crossings to avoid persecution and harassment from the Taliban.

Did her mother lie about this? No one can be sure. Language could have been a barrier, or she may have been too distraught. After all, they were faced with the constant threat of harassment, even death.

It was the Harper government that revised the legislation to allow citizenship revocation without a hearing, but it is the Trudeau government that has been enforcing it quite aggressively, stripping people of Canadian citizenship at the rate of approximately thirteen individuals per month.

Such policing seems a little ironic considering Trudeau’s soft approach to revoking the citizenship of terrorists, people who should have professed binding loyalty to the people and soil of Canada. But they lied about their intention. The very basis of their entry into Canada was a false premise.

By contrast, should we be tolerant of the offspring of parents who may have committed errors on their application for a host of forgivable reasons? It may even be naive to expect poor and illiterate refugee status applicants trying to escape Taliban brutality to even understand the concept of citizenship. The law should show some flexibility towards such migrants, and more towards their hapless children.

Some migrants falsely filing their own application deserve to have their citizenship revoked. But by no means should their children be made to suffer.

Trudeau is silent on this controversy over a government insider. And Monsef too is hardly forthright enough. But the law is still unjust when it affects the children of refugees.

In order to rectify any past injustices and to bring some fairness to the debate, we are required to ask if mistakes of the past will be rectified. That is, once the MP’s case has brought the absurdity of the law into the limelight, will people already stripped of their citizenship and deported be allowed to have their citizenship status restored?

To quote Josh Peterson, executive director of the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association, “When we get a parking ticket, we have a right to a court hearing…and yet for citizens to lose their entitlement to membership in Canada based on allegations of something they may or may not have said 20 years ago, they have no hearing? It just doesn’t make any sense.”

Paterson is part of a group that launched a constitutional challenge to the law. Trudeau’s response to the Maryam Monsef case should have a huge bearing on this challenge. Let us hope a touch of humanity will soften this tough legislation.

Source: Farzana Hassan: It’s unjust to revoke the citizenship of refugees’ children | Ha

Members of dormant national security roundtable seeking answers [CCRS]

Always found the CCRS a useful forum during my time working on multiculturalism issues, where we would bring the “soft side” of counter-radicalization approaches to the table.

While it is normal for a new government to review the mandate and the membership, and whether or not it duplicates other consultative bodies (I think not), pleased that the Liberal government has signalled its intent to maintain the CCRS:

A group of Canadians who advise the federal government on national security issues are in the dark about the future of a 16-member roundtable they were appointed to.

Members of the Cross-Cultural Roundtable on Security are supposed to meet in-camera at least twice a year, yet the group hasn’t met since October 2014.

The roundtable was set up in 2005 to act as a sounding board for cabinet ministers and other high-ranking federal executives on how security matters and government policies affect different ethnic communities. Over the years, it has covered topics such as countering violent extremism, migration and cyber-security.

“I feel I’m in limbo,” said Farzana Hassan, a newspaper columnist and past-president of the Canadian Muslim Congress who was appointed to the roundtable in June 2015.

“It seemed like a very good fit and I jumped on the idea and I accepted the appointment, but I have not heard anything,” she told CBC News.

This past spring, Hassan and several other members contacted by CBC received a letter informing them that the government is re-thinking the roundtable’s activities and composition.

“I get the sense that they would want us to resign because we were appointed by the previous government and, you know, this government’s policies and outlines on certain issues is very different from the previous government,” said Hassan.

“I feel I can do more. I can share my ideas, but I have not been given the opportunity to do so,” she said.

Chair sees lack of communication

Myrna Lashley, a psychologist, was appointed to the roundtable in 2005 and has been the group’s chairperson since 2007. But after receiving the letter in March, Lashley suspects her involvement has come to an end.

“Effectively when you get that letter, you have been told ‘thank you,'” Lashley said.

In the meantime, Lashley is concerned the federal government is not communicating as effectively on national security issues with Canada’s ethnically diverse communities, such as Syrian refugees.

In the past, Lashley says the group met with and advised ministers of public safety and justice as well as senior executives from the RCMP, CSIS and Canada Border Services Agency on all sorts of issues that could or would affect an array of cultural groups.

“We could give them an idea of how different communities might react to something so that they could formulate it in a way that would be acceptable to all Canadians,” said Lashley.

Lashley points to the creation of the special advocate program, which provided independent, top-secret, security-cleared lawyers to represent people subject to a security certificate or immigration proceedings.

“We were the ones that said ‘let’s try a special advocate,’ that came from us,” Lashley said.

The Department of Public Safety refused CBC’s request for an interview. But in an email, a spokesperson said, “While the government is currently reviewing the membership of the table, it looks forward to resuming CCRS meetings in the near future.

Source: Members of dormant national security roundtable seeking answers – Politics – CBC News

Immigration [citizenship] fraud makes us vulnerable: Hassan

Farzana Hassan on the OAG report on citizenship fraud (Gaps in Ottawa’s detection of citizenship fraud, auditor finds):

According to a Sun story Tuesday: “Michael Ferguson’s report uncovered instances of people with serious criminal records and others using potentially phony addresses, among those who managed to secure Canadian citizenship, thanks to holes throughout not just the Immigration Department but the RCMP and Canada Border Services Agency as well.”

Of course, we should expect some mistakes in any government department, but it is reasonable to ask how widespread is the failure to weed out undesirable people from entering Canada and what will be done to solve the problem?

Immigration Minister John McCallum reacted to the report by saying the Liberal government is already looking into the issue and trying to address the problem. But the public needs something more tangible from the government than a formulaic response.

Andrew Griffith, author of the book, Multiculturalism in Canada: Evidence and Anecdote, writes in his blog entitled Multicultural Meanderings, “One of the lasting legacies of the Conservative government was increased attention to the integrity of the program, beyond the issues identified in the OAG report (e.g., rotating citizenship test questions, more rigorous and consistent language assessment, and the integrity measures of C-24).”

The Trudeau government has retained many of these controls, but the technology solutions enabling effective oversight need to be refined.

Griffith is convinced the problem is not too widespread, but the current high reliance on manual data entry and human triggered searches is so critically prone to error that a simple spelling mistake can cause a failure in the system.

Automated alerts need to be in place. Electronic scanning for data accuracy and compatibility between security organizations needs to be a priority.

The stakes are high, and the current system has too many holes to provide the kind of assurance to which Canadians are entitled.

Despite the optimism of observers like Griffith, it is clear the system needs a thorough overhaul, especially when immigration in many cases is being aggressively and fraudulently pursued in terror-exporting countries like Pakistan and others in the Middle East.

Human error will continue to play a role in any system. But in an electronic age, automatic identification technology and smart systems that use leading-edge applications can significantly reduce mistakes.

Canadians deserve to know they are safe from people with criminal records and jihadi mindsets

Source: Immigration fraud makes us vulnerable | HASSAN | Columnists | Opinion | Toronto

Stephen Hume: Canada’s bigots grant themselves permission to vent

Good piece by Stephen Hume on how government messaging has encouraged bigotry to come out of the closet:

Canada’s vitality derives from constant change; it has never been frozen in amber. Once upon a time, the Cree controlled an area from northern Quebec to the Rockies. Cree was the lingua franca of North America’s biggest business. Economies evolve; times change. Get over it.

Canada has absorbed waves of French, English, Chinese, Japanese, Americans, Scots, Irish, Ukrainians, Germans, Russians, Finns, Belgians, Greeks, Swedes, Italians, Hungarians, Lebanese, Tamils, Punjabis, Roman Catholics, Protestants, Jews, Muslims, Doukhobors, Buddhists, Sikhs, Hindus. All changed and were changed by the country to which they came.

Chest-beating for the good old days when the British in British Columbia meant membership in an elitist white colonial old boys club is silly yearning for a time that existed only briefly — and good riddance to it.

Bigotry has a long and beef-witted pedigree here in “a white man’s country” where the “Yellow Peril” once commanded headlines and the Ku Klux Klan had a headquarters in Shaughnessy Heights. Ah, those good old days when bigots could strut their stuff.

The murderous clowns in pointy white hats attracted 500 enthusiasts to their founding meeting in Vancouver in 1925. Two years later, they claimed a provincial membership of 13,000, including five members of the legislative assembly.

Before them, we had the Asiatic Exclusion League, fomenters of race riots who in 1923 lobbied successfully for the unjust laws to bar Chinese immigrants and for which the federal government has formally apologized.

Echoes of those poisonous attitudes suffuse the nasty, outraged, inflammatory commentary — often delivered with no sense of irony from behind the veil of web anonymity — suggesting that a few Muslim women’s veils are part of some fascist fifth-column assault on Canada.

Well, they aren’t. And more of us should be saying so — and helping stuff this ugly genie of bigotry back into the bottle before it starts granting wishes we come to deeply regret.

Stephen Hume: Canada’s bigots grant themselves permission to vent.

Lorne Gunter focuses on the niqab at citizenship ceremonies:

But where is the security or fraud concern with the wearing of a niqab at a citizenship ceremony? The ceremony is formality, a celebration of already having won approval for Canadian citizenship. The ceremony itself does not itself confer citizenship on the participants without them first clearing all the legal hurdles and passing the new, more rigorous citizenship test.

A sneaky woman cannot pass herself off as someone else by wearing a niqab, take the oath, then suddenly tear off her veil and declare, “Ah-ha! I have tricked you. Now give me my citizenship.” The citizenship card would still only be issued to the proper woman.

I am all for niqabs being dropped at airport security for as long as it takes a security screener – male or female – to feel confident a passenger is who she claims to be. No special accommodations such as a separate screened-off area or female-only checkers.

But the only threat in wearing a niqab at a citizenship ceremony is potentially the threat to our cultural norms. And I am always reluctant to allow governments to force free citizens to behave in any particular way absent a real, immediate and significant danger to other citizens.

The niqab truth about face coverings | GUNTER

Lastly, Farzana Hassan, takes the opposite view:

However, the most refreshing new angles on this debate are being provided by Munir Pervaiz, president of the secular Muslim Canadian Congress.

Pervaiz repudiates special privileges for niqabi women.

For example, he asks why a niqabi woman should wait for women police officers to process traffic infractions, in case she is stopped on a street.

Why must law enforcement wait till a woman police officer is found?

Would the niqabi woman be willing to wait in a police cruiser or cell till such arrangements are made?

Should she resist if she is taken into temporary custody and charged for interfering with the process?

Pervaiz also states that, “Courts have strict rules of attire. And the government … can make regulations to govern conduct in a court.”

Courts require people wear attire that shows respect for formality and tradition.

For example, the wearing of hats is discouraged in a courtroom, and no one would rationally complain that this restricts individual freedoms.

Why must niqabi women insist on the niqab at all times, in the face of established norms of attire?

Niqab is about our values, not race | Hassan | Columnists | Opinion | Toronto Su.:

 

Changing the minds of wannabe terrorists

More commentary on deradicalization approaches:

And while these may seem to be the only two options open to Canadians who turn down the path of violent extremism — death or a court date — experts say a third option — deradicalization — isn’t receiving the attention it deserves.

“These programs can work,” said Jocelyn Bélanger, a psychology professor at the Université du Québec à Montréal who has studied radicalization around the world.

“Even though the number of cases (of homegrown extremism) are limited, we know how much damage just a few individuals can create. … If we do it well, if we read the research on this, we can develop better programs. We can be preventive as well, flagging individuals who are at risk, and once they are flagged they go into a (deradicalization) program.

”Existing approaches to this type of “deprogramming” have had varying degrees of success, and the rehabilitation is usually offered on a voluntary basis, Bélanger said. In most cases, the “beneficiary” is given a choice, to serve their sentence in jail or in a special facility.

“I know it sounds like a false choice, but it is nonetheless psychologically important,” explained Bélanger. In Saudi Arabia, he noted, “Imams will actually use the Qur’an, will engage in discussion with the beneficiary about the Qur’an, ultimately trying to convince them that Islam does not support the killing of innocents.”

Changing the minds of wannabe terrorists.

Farzana Hassan, who seems to be oblivious to the many messages from Canadian Muslims against extremism:

Muslims need to transcend the propaganda that has so defined their narrative on these issues and reject the naive “crusader” fiction.

Tragically, this is a point lost on the majority of the faithful, even supposed moderates.

Mosques must discredit this narrative actively, and they must preach the values of Canadian identity even above religious affiliation.

While Muslims are of course entitled to remain distinct, they must abide not only by the laws of the land but also by its universal values.

Inciting the murder of innocent Canadians is a clear violation of those laws and values.

In dealing with religious extremism, true moderation involves more than refusing to commit violence; it involves campaigning against the absurd political assumptions that may encourage it in others.

…It is the obscurantist views of extremists like Maguire that have hampered progress towards economic prosperity and political stability in the Muslim world for so long.

Muslims must not see attacks on ISIS as attacks on their religion as a whole.

On the contrary, they may help alleviate all the burdens that have bedeviled the Islamic world for so many decades.

Al Canadi’s rants are those of an impressionable and disturbed young man brainwashed by a lethal world view, a view so simplistic we can only wonder at its appeal.​

http://www.torontosun.com/2014/12/11/john-maguire—brainwashed-disturbed …

Michel Petrou provides a good overview of some of the challenges with deradicalization and the absence of an equivalent program in Canada, citing the UK experience in particular:

Usama Hasan, a British imam and senior researcher at the Quilliam Foundation, a counter-extremism think tank in Britain, says he is “astonished” that Canada does not have a de-radicalization program for Canadians who have returned from Syria and Iraq.

“There may be a risk that they’ve spent time with extremist groups and been brutalized by the war. So there’s always a risk that their minds won’t be thinking straight. So it’s very important to have ‘de-rad,’ which has to include a bit of mental health counselling and looking at PTSD and things like that,” he says.

“Even if they are prosecuted and convicted, you still need to de-rad them, because they will eventually be released from prison, and quite possibly they will be even more of a threat then because they will have been hardened in prison, and so they’re a threat either way.”

When he was a student at Cambridge University in the early 1990s, Hasan left Britain and briefly joined the Islamist insurrection, or jihad, against Afghanistan’s communist government.

At the time, Hasan was a radical Salafist and followed an extreme interpretation of Islam. He has since become much more moderate. In addition to officiating at interfaith marriage ceremonies, he now advises the British government on its own de-radicalization program, dubbed Channel.

People immersed in extremist groups “live in a kind of disconnected world,” says Hasan.

“They have their own reality, which they invent and perpetuate among their group by repeating the same old propaganda over and over again, but also blocking out anything that runs counter to that world view. We have to find holes in their world view and try to get through to them in as many ways as possible to make them doubt and rethink those kinds of ideas.”

Has likens the process to convincing someone to leave a gang. “You have to give them alternatives, address their needs,” he says.

When extremists rely on their faith to justify their world view, “you have to address all those religious points as well,” he says, “with better religion.”

Hasan describes recently counselling a young man who was determined to go to Syria. Hasan says the man knew “almost nothing” about the conflict there, or about the Middle East in general.

“People had just told him it was a war between Muslims and non-Muslims, and it was his duty to go and fight for Islam.”

The man believed there were American ground troops in Syria whom he could fight. Hasan educated him about the war, especially its sectarian nature and the ongoing slaughter occurring between Muslims. The potential recruit decided to stay in Britain.

He was lucky. Many others have left from Britain, Canada and other Western countries and died far from home. Some have committed horrific atrocities. Some will come back. Whether we like it or not, we’re going to have to figure out a way to live with them.

Canada’s extremist problem – Macleans.ca

From the US and the need for a more differentiated approach:

“Should they be prosecuted, should they be counseled, should they be reintegrated in a more compassionate way?” says Juan Zarate, who used to be a terrorism official at the Treasury Department. He’s now at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

“Those are important questions because to the extent they are not fully radicalized, they perhaps were lured by a romanticized vision of what life was like in Syria,” he says. “Maybe it is appropriate to apply different tools and measures to peel them away from the movement as opposed to the same tools we have applied to more hard-core members of the group.”

When Americans Head To Syria, How Much Of A Threat Do They Pose?

Farzana Hassan: Islamic Reform – Daunting But Needed

Interesting interview with Farzana Hassan, by the Clarion Project (see Sheema Khan: We can end honour killings, but not with films by anti-Muslim zealots and Film wages ‘interfaith campaign’ against abuse of Muslim women for more information on Clarion):

I see little clerical support for an “Islamic Reformation.” Even educated Muslims believe that Islam is perfect and therefore needs no reformation. Reformist Muslims, on the other hand, repudiate sharia provisions and attempt to understand Islamic belief and practice mainly as metaphor. Traditionalists see them as constituting the fringes of Muslim society, even as heretics.  Few heed their call for an Islamic reformation.

From my experience in dealing with Muslims of various stripes and persuasions, I have come to the conclusion that while there is movement toward and away from Islam, the main body of Muslims has remained largely orthodox due to recognizable inertia in Islamic theology. Muslims who challenge traditional interpretations often end up repudiating Islam, at least intellectually. New converts to Islam, on the other hand, embrace the orthodox view simply because it is the entrenched view. The result is stasis within the community of Muslims across the world.

An Islamic reformation is therefore a daunting task. Mullahs and clerics would have to abandon the literalist approach to Islam in favor of its broad principles, especially when there is a blatant contradiction between the two.

I think there is more diversity within the Muslim community, particularly in North America, than Farzana, and other religions (e.g., Catholicism) have some analogous challenges, but this interview gives her more space and nuance than the limitations of a short op-ed.

Farzana Hassan: Islamic Reform — Daunting But Needed | Clarion Project.

Muslim extremism: That’s just calling it like it is | Toronto Sun

A number of columns by critics of Islam and Muslims (Michael Coren, Farzana Hassan), who focus on the extremists among them, without recognizing that all religions have their fundamentalists, conservatives and extremists, as well as the majority who are more moderate believers.

The issue is more how extremism manifests itself; unfortunately, in the case of Muslims, it manifests itself in terrorism and blowing people up. And that is the problem, unlike most other communities where it is more internal to how people live their lives (e.g., the choices made by conservative Jews, Christians, Sikhs and the like), although there are also issues from an integration perspective.

I could not find the source reference to Imam Soharwardy (the Calgary Imam referred to in the second article), just the blog commenting on it without a direct link.

Muslim extremism: That’s just calling it like it is | Home | Toronto Sun.

Calgary imam to Muslims: “Go home”