Ensaf Haidar dit être injustement «diabolisée»

Please. As Thomas Juneau notes, not a good idea and one that undermines her credibility. One is judged by the company one keeps:

Ensaf Haidar estime avoir été injustement « diabolisée » en raison des liens amicaux qu’elle a établis avec un auteur américain dénoncé comme un « extrémiste » par plusieurs organisations luttant contre la propagande haineuse.

La femme du dissident saoudien Raif Badawi soutient qu’un texte de La Presse paru hier au sujet de son amitié avec Robert Spencer était un « message lancé aux islamistes pour s’attaquer » à sa personne.

Elle a prévenu qu’elle tiendrait le quotidien responsable de « toute atteinte » à sa sécurité, à celle de ses enfants ou à celle de son mari, qui est détenu depuis 2012 en Arabie saoudite.

La résidante de Sherbrooke a critiqué du même souffle la crédibilité et les conclusions du Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), qui accuse Robert Spencer d’attiser la haine envers les musulmans par ses travaux.

Elle a aussi retweeté les écrits de l’auteure et activiste Djemila Benhabib, qui a accusé une autre organisation critique de M. Spencer, le Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), d’être à la solde d’intégristes. Mme Benhabib agit comme vice-présidente de la Fondation Raif Badawi.

Refoulé par le gouvernement anglais

Mme Haidar a refusé encore une fois hier de répondre aux questions de La Presseau sujet de son amitié avec M. Spencer, qu’elle a rencontré notamment lors d’une visite à Washington il y a quelques semaines.

L’Américain avait été refoulé par le gouvernement anglais en 2013 sous prétexte qu’il tenait un discours sur l’islam susceptible de perturber la « paix intercommunautaire ».

Le SPLC relève qu’il a passé une bonne partie de sa vie à produire des livres et des articles qui ont pour objet de « démoniser et de malmener les musulmans et la foi islamique ».

M. Spencer affirme pour sa part qu’il dénonce « la terreur djihadiste et l’oppression par la charia » et qu’il n’a jamais rien écrit qui encourage la haine « contre qui que ce soit ».

La coordonnatrice de la section d’Amnistie internationale de l’Estrie, Mireille Elchacar, qui travaille depuis longtemps auprès de Mme Haidar, a indiqué hier que son organisation n’avait pas de conseil à lui donner relativement à son association avec l’auteur américain.

« Ensaf est très contente de pouvoir utiliser sa citoyenneté canadienne et sa liberté d’expression » pour mettre de l’avant ses convictions, a relevé Mme Elchacar.

Après que Radio-Canada eut cité Amnistie internationale à ce sujet dans un article en après-midi, Mme Haidar s’est indignée en ligne.

« Qu’est-ce qu’ils essaient de faire ? Pourquoi questionnent-ils Amnistie à ce sujet ? Je vais aussi revoir ma relation avec Radio-Canada ! », a-t-elle écrit.

« Pas une bonne idée »

Thomas Juneau, spécialiste du Moyen-Orient rattaché à l’Université d’Ottawa, pense que l’amitié de Mme Haidar avec M. Spencer n’est « pas une bonne idée ».

L’auteur américain est méconnu au Québec, mais « occupe un espace médiatique assez important dans l’extrême droite islamophobe » au sud de la frontière, dit M. Juneau.

« Au niveau intellectuel, il ne doit pas du tout être pris au sérieux. Mais il doit être pris au sérieux au niveau politique », relève M. Juneau, qui s’inquiète que des individus comme M. Spencer trouvent en ligne « un puissant mégaphone » pour faire diffuser leurs idées.

« Comme les islamophobes en général, il tend à amalgamer les extrémistes avec la pratique quotidienne, modérée, de la grande majorité des musulmans », relève-t-il.

Source: Ensaf Haidar dit être injustement «diabolisée»

Federal appointee to race relations board (@CRRF) under scrutiny for writings on Islam | nanaimonewsNOW

One of the more ideological choices of the previous government. Understandable under review:

A board member with the Canadian Race Relations Foundation, an arms-length federal government agency with a mandate to combat racial discrimination, is in jeopardy of losing her post over her writings on the controversial website Jihad Watch.

Christine Douglass-Williams has been writing for the site almost since she was appointed to the foundation’s board in 2012. But multiple sources have told The Canadian Press that the government is reviewing that appointment in the wake of an essay that appeared on the site in May.

The post, entitled, “Christine Williams: My personal warning to Icelanders,” was based on a visit Douglass-Williams paid to the country alongside Jihad Watch founder and U.S. academic Robert Spencer earlier this year.

In it, Douglass-Williams warns that Icelanders are being duped by seemingly moderate Muslims who deceive people into believing they are harmless, and writes that if Muslims truly had nothing to hide, they’d allow police to conduct surveillance in their mosques.

“Islamic supremacists will smile at you, invite you to their gatherings, make you feel loved and welcome, but they do it to deceive you and to overtake you, your land and your freedoms,” she writes.

“They intentionally make you feel guilty for questioning their torturous deeds toward humanity — toward women, Christians, gays, Jews, apostates, infidels and anyone who dares to oppose these deeds.”

With concerns about the post circulating among her fellow board members, it came to the attention of Heritage Minister Melanie Joly, whose department is responsible for the foundation.

Specifically, there are concerns that Douglass-Williams’s views are a hindrance to her work with the foundation and an affront to its legally defined mandate, which is to help eliminate racism and racial discrimination in Canada.

In a statement to The Canadian Press, Douglass-Williams said it is not racist to oppose “the jihadist-Islamist” agenda, and that her writings are entirely in keeping with the work of the board.

“Any efforts currently against me in my private work are an unjust, agenda-driven and cruel attempt to intimidate me for my distaste for all supremacist agendas,” she wrote. She pointed to her recent book, “The Challenges of Modernizing Islam,” as proof that she’s pro-Muslim and pro-human rights.

“My book differentiates between Islamists and human rights-respecting Muslims who thrive to live peaceably and equally among Westerners,” Douglass-Williams wrote.

“They ask for no special favors and advocate for the separation of mosque and state; they condemn Islamism, and stand against human rights abuses committed in the name of their religion, sometimes at great personal risk.”

Pierre-Olivier Herbert, a spokesperson for Joly, said the foundation needs a board that recognizes the importance of diversity and inclusion.

“While we cannot comment on specific cases, with respect to Governor in Council (GIC) appointees, it is expected that appointees’ conduct not be at odds with an organization’s mandate, otherwise the GIC will consider whether action should be taken,” Herbert said.

The foundation was launched in 1997 as part of the settlement the federal government at the time reached with Japanese Canadians over their internment in Canada during the Second World War.

It holds workshops and roundtables across the country on combating racism, and also funds research into Canadian attitudes towards multiculturalism, immigration and other issues.

Board member and foundation spokesman Rubin Friedman said allegations that Douglass-Williams was Islamophobic had been brought to the attention of the board.

“We discussed those allegations and we looked at our mandate, and our policy, and we decided that we don’t make comment on what our part time board members do outside of our organization.”

The board has no control over its membership, Friedman said, and whatever might happen next is up to the government. Douglass-Williams’s current term expires in 2018.

Spencer, who launched Jihad Watch in 2003, has expressed frustration with the view that the perpetrators of the 9/11 terrorist attacks did not represent the true peaceful nature of Islam. He believes it must be made clear that the attacks were rooted in Islam — not to demonize Muslims, but to prove there’s a problem within the religion.

Spencer has gone on to deny the existence of Islamophobia, calling it a term deployed in order to “intimidate non-Muslims away from criticizing or resisting the jihad and Islamic supremacism.”

Douglass-Williams picked up on similar themes in a March 2017 post about a controversial House of Commons motion that called “on the government of Canada to condemn Islamophobia in Canada and all forms of systemic racism and religious discrimination.”

Douglass-Williams accused the Liberal MP who sponsored the motion of being part of a broader plot when she insisted on including the word Islamophobia in the text, as opposed to other suggested phrases like “anti-Muslim bigotry.”

In a statement, the National Council of Canadian Muslims said anyone with such views has no place on the foundation’s board.

“For a federal appointee to be writing for hateful websites, denying the existence of Islamophobia and calling for the violation of fundamental rights and freedoms of a minority community is contrary to everything the Canada Race Relations Foundation stands for and to the values enshrined in the charter,” Amira Elghawaby said in a statement.

“We are confident that the federal government will take appropriate action with respect to this matter.”

Source: Federal appointee to race relations board under scrutiny for writings on Islam | nanaimonewsNOW

In Pam Geller’s World, Everybody Jihads – The Daily Beast

For those who want more background on Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer’s views on Islam:

This sordid episode is typical of the way Geller and her comrade-in-arms Spencer, co-founders of the American Freedom Defense Initiative, conduct their misnamed “anti-jihadist” battle. It is also a good example of why the two are no heroes for free speech. No, Geller did not “provoke” the terror attack in Garland, as a number of pundits (and even the New York Times editorial board) have deplorably suggested; her cartoon contest is not the moral equivalent of the attack, and she does not need to apologize for the exercise of her First Amendment rights or for the terrorists’ actions. She does, however, have to answer for a lengthy record of peddling anti-Muslim hysteria, targeting Muslims’ First Amendment right to worship, smearing innocent people as jihadists, and even excusing the slaughter of Muslims in the former Yugoslavia.  We cannot allow terrorists to curb our speech; but we also cannot allow them to turn hatemongers into heroes.

Whatever valid concerns Geller, Spencer, and their allies may raise about political Islamism wind up being eclipsed by the fact that they not only conflate Islamist radicalism with all Islam but make disturbingly little distinction between criticism of Islam and hostility toward Muslims.

In a contentious interview with CNN host Alisyn Camerota Monday, Geller indignantly denied that she paints Islam “with a broad brush,” declaring that she is “anti-jihad” and “anti-sharia.” But for the most part, she and Spencer make almost no secret that they regard radical Islam as indistinguishable from Islam itself.

Spencer, a prolific author who has a degree in religious studies and whose tone is more judicious than Geller’s, does not quite state outright that non-extremist Islam is impossible. Nonetheless, he calls Islamic reform “quixotic” and “virtually inconceivable,” and sweepingly describes the faith of “millions” of Muslim immigrants in the West as “absolutely incompatible with Western society.” When America’s first Muslim congressman Keith Ellison (D-Minnesota) chose to use a Quran in his swearing-in ceremony, Spencer flatly stated that “no American official should be taking an oath on the Qur’an.” His 2005 best-seller, The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades), has such chapter titles as “Islamic Law: Lie, Steal and Kill.”

Critics accuse Spencer of cherry-picking and distortions. While these charges often come from sources with biases of their own, there is no doubt that his account of Islamic history is blatantly one-sided. Thus, he tries to rebut the “PC myth” that Jews in the Middle Ages fared better under Islamic rule than in Christian Europe by quoting from a 13th Century papal bull that affirmed the rights accorded to Jews—but fails to mention the many expulsions of Jewish communities from European countries and glosses over crusader massacres of Jews.

When Spencer writes about moderate Muslims, it is invariably to disparage them as deluded, insincere, or irrelevant. His targets include reformist Muslims who are strongly critical of radical Islamism and have themselves been accused of being Islamophobic shills: Jasser, self-styled “Muslim refusenik” Irshad Manji, Sufi Muslim convert Stephen Schwartz. They also include Kurdish fighters battling the Islamic State: last October, a Spencer post on his site, JihadWatch, reported a Kurdish woman’s suicide bomb attack on ISIS troops in a besieged town under the jeering headline, “Kurdish Muslima carries out moderate jihad/martyrdom suicide attack against the Islamic State,” and sneered at the idea that “the foes of the Islamic State are all moderate.”

But treating Islam as a monolith, denying the possibility of reform, and demonizing Muslims en masse is not the answer. If Christianity and Judaism could transcend their scriptural and theological baggage once used to justify fanaticism and oppression, there is no reason to believe that Islam cannot do the same. Spencer has argued that Islamic reform has no theological foundation, but he ignores the work of such 20th Century thinkers as Mahmoud Mohammed Taha, who made the case for the abrogation of the Quran’s later, harsher texts by the earlier, more peaceful ones (rather than vice versa). Today, there are Muslim scholars who champion a revision of Islamic orthodoxy on everything from women’s rights to religious freedom. In 2004, over 2,500 Muslim academics from 23 countries signed a petition to the United Nations condemning “Sheikhs of terror” who use Islamic scriptures as justification for political violence.

This is why, while we must stand by Geller as a victim of an outrageous attack on fundamental speech rights, it would be a tragic mistake to treat her or Spencer as leaders in the fight against the radical ideology that has been called Islamism or Islamofascism.

In his 2011 response to their attacks, Jasser warned that “Geller’s and Spencer’s genre is headed in only one direction—declaring an ideological war against one-fourth of the world’s population and expecting to neutralize the Islamist threat by asking Muslims to renounce their faith.” It is, perhaps literally, a dead end.

In Pam Geller’s World, Everybody Jihads – The Daily Beast.

Canadian Muslim leaders worried U.S. speakers will spread ‘hate’ about Islam | 680News

Valid point. What criteria should Canada use to decide which speakers to allow into the country and which not?

The Canadian government did not allow George Galloway in but has allowed other controversial speakers like Ann Coulter in. While Geller and Spencer arguably cross the border of hate speech, the test is whether the government would allow entry to other speakers making comparable comments about other religions.

My own preference is to let them in and have trust in Canadians to reject their rhetoric and ideas.

Canadian Muslim leaders worried U.S. speakers will spread ‘hate’ about Islam | 680News.

And in related news, concerns that the demonstration against the Charte des valeurs québécoises by the Collectif québécois contre l’islamophobie (CQI) is driven by the intégristes (fundamentalists). There is of course a range within the more fundamentalist strains of Islam in Montreal. One of the organizers, Salam Elmenyawi, is a prominent conservative Muslim in Montreal (disclosure: I have met him a number of times).

But  in a democracy, all have the right to express their views, but the demonstration would likely be more effective with a more inclusive organizing committee that had some of the more liberal and secular Muslim and other organizations involved.

Une manifestation organisée par des intégristes?

Robert Spencer Asks: Did Muhammad Exist? | FrontPage Magazine

While written from an anti-Islam perspective, the validity of subjecting the Quran and the Hadith to the same kind of scholarship at Christian and Jewish texts, situating them in the history and culture, is valid.

Robert Spencer Asks: Did Muhammad Exist? | FrontPage Magazine.