Sept. 26: When jihadis ‘R’ Us – my letter in The Globe

My letter to The Globe on How can we stop the jihadi tourists? – Margaret Wente (tighter version than my post):

The cancellation of passports is not the same as the revocation of citizenship. Cancellation of passports potentially applies to all Canadians, whether born here or naturalized, whether dual national or not. Revocation applies only to those with dual nationality or with the right to another nationality.

Take an example from a Calgary terrorism cell. Canadian-born extremist Damian Clairmont would not have been subject to revocation while “cell mate” Pakistani dual national Salman Ashrafi, who came to Canada as a child, would have been. Both are dead, but there are comparable cases.

Two different punishments for the same crime. Hard to see how this would not be successfully challenged before the courts.

Far better to use the Australian approach, as stated by Prime Minister Tony Abbott: “If you fight with a terrorist group, if you seek to return to this country, as far as this government is concerned, you will be arrested, you will be prosecuted and you will be jailed for a very long time indeed.”

Sept. 26: When jihadis ‘R’ Us – and other letters to the editor – The Globe and Mail.

How can we stop the jihadi tourists? – Margaret Wente

Wente conflates cancellation of passports with revocation of citizenship.

Not the same at all. Cancellation of passports potentially applies to all Canadians, whether born in Canada or naturalized, whether Canadian citizens only or dual nationals.

Revocation on the other hand, applies only to those with dual nationality (or with the right to another nationality).

So take some examples from the same Calgary terrorism cell. The Canadian-born extremist Damian Clairmont would not be subject to revocation while his “cellmate” Pakistani dual national Salman Ashrafi, who came to Canada as a child, would be.

Both are dead, but there are other comparable cases among the known and likely unknown extremists.

Two different punishments for the same crime. Hard to see how this would not be successfully challenged before the courts.

Far better to use the Australian approach, as stated by PM Abbott, “If you fight with a terrorist group, if you seek to return to this country, as far as this government is concerned, you will be arrested, you will be prosecuted and you will be jailed for a very long time indeed.”

Justin Trudeau, the Liberal Leader, has said he opposes the Conservatives’ new measures, and that homegrown terrorists should be dealt with through the criminal justice system. “I think that a lot of Canadians, including very conservative Canadians, should be worried about the state willing to, and taking the power to, arbitrarily remove citizenship from people,” he said. “That’s a slippery slope that I don’t think we want to go on.”

But Mr. Trudeau – who is now out of step with the rest of the world – will not be eager to raise the subject again. After all, Prime Minister Stephen Harper has allied himself not only with Britain and Australia, but with Barack Obama and the UN.

It’s a very serious matter for governments to revoke the passports of their citizens, restrict their freedom and deprive them of their citizenship. And people who warn that states might abuse their new powers are right. Without vigilance, they probably will.

Finding the balance between national security and personal liberty is always tricky. But our first obligation is to protect ourselves – and the world – from bad Canadians. The virus of murderous fanaticism hasn’t gone away. And it will be around for a long time to come.

How can we stop the jihadi tourists? – The Globe and Mail.

Sheema Khan: We can end honour killings, but not with films by anti-Muslim zealots

Sheema Khan’s reasonable approach on how best, and how not to, address gender issues, including “honour-based” violence.

Barbara Kay (Suffering caused by honour tell tales that smite the heart) and Margaret Wente (Don’t ignore women’s struggles in the Muslim world) would  do well to reflect further on Sheema’s points, as well as those of Amy Awad (Don’t Separate ‘Honour Crimes’ From Other Violence Against Women).

While much of Sheema’s piece is largely on the motives of Clarion Project (the organization behind Honor Diaries, Iranium, Obsession, and The Third Jihad), it is more her positive formulation on how best to counter “honour-based” violence that is of interest:

For those who want to help eliminate “honour”-based violence (HBV), a good place to start is through in-depth research about the issue. Next is consultation with those who have first-hand expertise in the field and credibility with affected communities. Aruna Papp, a South Asian Christian, has survived the trauma of “shame”, and is one of this country’s leading experts. In London, Ont., the Muslim Resource Centre for Social Support and Integration recently launched the “Reclaim Honour Project” that “works to promote honour and prevent violence against girls and women through the support of the community.” In March, the Ottawa Police Service held a collaborative session with local communities to address HBV, with expert Rana Husseini. Ms. Husseini, a Jordanian-based journalist, has over twenty years’ experience in the field. She advised: “never denigrate a people’s faith or culture,” but rather, protect at-risk women, create safe spaces to raise the issue, and work patiently to change laws and attitudes. The absence of Ms. Husseini’s approach in Honour Diaries speaks volumes.

We can look to the recent successes against female genital mutilation in sub-Saharan Africa as an example of how to approach centuries-rooted traditions. The key drivers include community dialogue and education, health-based initiatives, alternative income for cutters, legislative reform, and the involvement of religious clergy whose moral authority has undercut cultural legitimacy of genital mutilation.

Religion is an ally against “honour” killings. Islamic scholars (both Sunni and Shia) have condemned this practice. Their voices need to be amplified, in order to remove any doubts about the immoral nature of this crime. They carry far more legitimacy than anti-Muslim propagandists. But then again, eradicating honour killings was never the goal of Honor Diaries.

We can end honour killings, but not with films by anti-Muslim zealots – The Globe and Mail.

Don’t Separate ‘Honour Crimes’ From Other Violence Against Women | Amy Awad

Legitimate criticism of the focus on “honour crimes” without any linkage to overall violence against women by Amy Awad of NCCM:

There are thoughtful and effective ways to look at all the facets of violence against women and it can certainly be done without promoting bigotry. For example, in March, the Ottawa Police, the Ottawa Rape Crisis, and Algonquin College partnered to put on a full day event on violence in the name of honour. The event brought together a broad section of Ottawa professionals as well as religious leaders and community activists focused on developing effective community-based strategies in Ottawa for preventing violence in the name of honour.

With thoughtful discussion about definitions, causes, strategies, and yes, choosing the words we use, all participants felt welcome and were able to come up with first steps that can be taken to address these problems. Their concrete proposals included prevention strategies, early intervention and accurate data collection.

Contrast this with Honour Diaries that presents some of the most egregious examples of gendered violence and then almost entirely attributes the problem to Islam. Instead of offering real solutions based on facts, the documentary will very likely result in promulgating fear of the ‘other’ and promote hatred against Muslims who are falsely portrayed as holding the exclusive franchise on this scourge.

A more nuanced approach than Barbara Kay (Suffering caused by honour tell tales that smite the heart) and Margaret Wente (Don’t ignore women’s struggles in the Muslim world).

Don’t Separate ‘Honour Crimes’ From Other Violence Against Women | Amy Awad.

Quebec Values Charter – Some Articles

Best commentary and analysis of the day from Chantal Hébert of The Star, trying to understand why Premier Marois engaged in such a risky strategy:

Moreover, the premier’s contributions to the debate so far — starting with the clumsy suggestion that multiculturalism is at the root cause of domestic terrorism in the United Kingdom, and the ill-informed assertion that France’s rigid secular system is a great model — suggest that her views on a diverse society may be shaped by impressions rather than evidence-based knowledge.

For the record, that view — as it is put forward — is strikingly less cosmopolitan than those of better-travelled predecessors such as René Lévesque, Jacques Parizeau and Lucien Bouchard.

At the end of the day, the motivations that drove Marois to lead the PQ across a Rubicon that distances it from the civic nationalism that it has always promoted in the past probably involves a mix of calculation, conviction and willful ignorance. But the combination, under any of its variations, does not add up to a compelling portrait.

Hébert: What motivated Pauline Marois to take such a risk?

First comment by Prime Minister Harper on the Quebec proposed Charter. Focus is on likelihood, rather than principles, compared to other federal leaders (but Minister Kenney has been dealing with those).

Quebec’s charter of values will fail, PM Harper predicts – Politics – CBC News.

Margaret Wente makes her usual generalizations but I think captures the political dynamic well in:

 Ms. Marois lays an egg 

And Warren Kinsella in The Sun provides credit to the federal politicians who have spoken out forcefully on the proposed Charter, where all three major parties have been consistent and clear:

The best of Canada, the worst of the PQ

There’ll always be weirdos in the basement – The Globe and Mail

One of Margaret Wente’s better pieces, that puts some of the recent terrorist plots, successful or unsuccessful, in context:

There’ll always be weirdos in the basement – The Globe and Mail.

And a good piece by Lorne Dawson, one of the better analysts of some of the psychology and background of people inclined to such acts:

Were Victoria terrorist bomb suspects really ‘self-radicalized?’ Probably not