Symposium: Terror From the North
July 21, 2006.
A month ago, in early June 2006, 17 Muslim males were rounded up by Canadian authorities for planning terror strikes within Ontario. What did these arrests signify? Frontpage has assembled a distinguished panel to discuss this issue with us today. Our guests are:
Stewart Bell, a senior reporter at the National Post. An investigative journalist and foreign correspondent, he has been writing about terrorism and extremism since the late 1980's and has traveled on assignment to the Middle East, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Asia and Africa. He is the recipient of many journalism awards, notably the Amnesty International Human Rights Media Award, the B'nai Brith Canada Award, the Law Society of British Columbia Award and the British Columbia Newspaper Award. He has been co-winner of the National Newspaper Award. Stewart is a frequent television and radio commentator on terrorism issues including appearances on Global National News, CTV's Canada AM, and CBC's As It Happens. He is author of the 2004 bestseller Cold Terror: How Canada Nurtures and Exports Terrorism Around the World.
Rachel Marsden, a political columnist and the Canadian Correspondent for Fox News’ The O’Reilly Factor. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Patrick Grady, an economic consultant from Ottawa and the author of Royal Canadian Jihad, a novel about Islamic terrorists in Canada, which prefigured the recent Toronto bomb plot.
Michael Marzolini, Chairman and CEO of POLLARA Strategic Public Opinion & Market Research, which he founded in 1985. For twelve years he served as chief pollster and strategist to the Prime Minister of Canada, and has managed or advised a total of 410 election campaigns in the United States, Great Britain, Canada, Ireland, Germany and Ukraine. Prior to that he was media pollster for the CTV Television Network, and in 1988 became the first pollster in the world to predict a national election with a 0.0% margin of error. Michael lives primarily in Toronto, and holds the Canadian Peacekeeping medal for military service to his country, as well as the Queen's Jubilee Medal for public service.
Robert Spencer, a scholar of Islamic history, theology, and law and the director of Jihad Watch. He is the author of five books, seven monographs, and hundreds of articles about jihad and Islamic terrorism, including Islam Unveiled: Disturbing Questions About the World’s Fastest Growing Faith and The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades). He is also an Adjunct Fellow with the Free Congress Foundation. He has been closely monitoring the developments surrounding the Toronto 17 case.
FP: Rachel Marsden, Stewart Bell, Patrick Grady, Michael Marzolini, and Robert Spencer, welcome to Frontpage Symposium.
Rachel Marsden, let’s begin with you. Tell us in general what this Toronto 17 case is about and what you think its significance is.
Marsden: In early June, Canadian authorities raided and charged 17 Muslim males in Canada with various terrorism related offenses. The suspects allegedly planned to attack government and civilian targets in Southern Ontario, and had taken steps to acquire bomb-making components, including a makeshift detonator and three tons of ammonium nitrate fertilizer—a single ton of which was used in the Oklahoma City Bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in 1995.
If some of the allegations are true, the arrests averted what could have been the largest terrorist attack in North America since 9/11.
At the initial police press conference, the “variety of backgrounds” of the suspects was emphasized. The fact that they were all Muslims was conveniently omitted.
Many Canadians still don’t understand why these members of the ‘religion of peace’ would want to harm Canadians—particularly here in Ontario where, in the name of “multiculturalism”, you can live in one of various cultural ghettos and never have to fully integrate with the rest of Canadian society. In fact, we encourage it. The Ontario government is so accommodating of people who aren’t keen on adopting Canadian values that it even flirted with the idea of sanctioning oppressive Sharia law.
On the op-ed pages, a former Liberal Deputy Prime Minister has whined “why us”? Yeah go figure—the plots allegedly involved an attack on the far-left Canadian Broadcast Corporation which, ironically, has always taken great pains not to apply the “terrorist” label to people who blow stuff up. And there’s nothing to suggest that the suspects planned to exempt all leftist politicians from an alleged attack on parliament. That must be a real downer for liberals, after all their terrorist butt-kissing.
Muslim fanatics, from Osama bin Laden to Mullah Dadullah, have been saying they want to kill Canadians for years. Unlike liberals, these guys are generally pretty good on the follow through. So why do some of our “enlightened” friends still refuse to believe them?
FP: Stewart Bell, what is your take? The “enlightened” Canadian establishment dealt with this terror phenomenon pretty strangely, no? What’s Canada’s problem?
Bell: Two points.
First of all, the suspects did indeed come from a variety of backgrounds in the sense that two were born in Somalia, one is an Afghan, several are from Pakistan, one is Jamaican and there are a few converts. If you look at their profiles, you also see a range of experience - some were university students, others were juvis and gang bangers.
Having said that, it’s clear there was a deliberate strategy to avoid identifying them as Muslims at the RCMP news conference. I think the reason may have had more to do with strategic thinking than political correctness.
The RCMP and CSIS can't do their jobs properly unless they improve their relationship with the various Canadian Muslim communities. That relationship has been awful to date (not necessarily the fault of counter-terrorists, since imams like Aly Hindy and like-minded lobby groups have done their best to make sure Muslims think the worst of CSIS and the RCMP). But the point is, if they are going to protect Canada from the next plot to behead the infidel Wawa Goose or whatever, they need to get more Muslims on side, and they are afraid if they identify the suspects by their religion, it will set them back. And who can blame them for thinking that way, since they are already accused by the Canadian press of racial profiling and picking on Muslims in their CT efforts.
I think the police strategy was don’t say Muslim, knowing that someone else would do it for them, which is exactly what happened. And you will notice that the CSIS representative at the news conference did manage to say they were "inspired by Al Qaeda," which says just about all you need to know.
FP: Patrick Grady?
Grady: You ask "what is Canada’s problem?" To an economist such as myself, the answer seems obvious, but unfortunately it’s not possible to say without violating Canada’s great multicultural taboo. But what the hell, since you invited me here today to say something, I might as well say it. To paraphrase Clinton’s campaign slogan, "it’s the demographics, stupid." By this, I mean that Canada has allowed and is continuing to allow into the country too many fundamentalist Muslim immigrants, who bring along their jihad ideology and deeply ingrained hatred of the West with their luggage. Once here in our diverse and tolerant country, they’re free to poison the minds of their children who in turn become the homegrown jihadis like the Toronto 17 that we’re talking about today and that cause so much angst in Canada.
I am consequently not at all surprised that the largest number of the alleged plotters came from Mississauga or thereabouts. Your American readers probably don’t know that Mississauga has become a real hotbed of radical Islam. It is one of the Toronto metropolitan areas with the heaviest concentration of Muslims, and contains some pretty fundamentalist mosque-centered communities. Most notably, it is home to the gargantuan Islamic Center of Canada complex, which is affiliated with the Wahhabi-dominated Islamic Society of North America and which was financed by our good friend and ally, the King of Saudi Arabia. And don’t forget the little store-front Al-Rahman Mosque, which is also in Mississauga and was frequented by at least 7 of the Toronto plotters, including Qayyum Abdul Jamal, the 43-year old janitor-cum- prayer-leader who was said to be the group’s spiritual leader.
Incidently, Missisauga’s Meadowvale Secondary School, which was attended by some of the Toronto terror suspects, has Muslim prayer rooms and allows Islamic attire. One of the alleged bombers, Zakaria Amara, helped start a Muslim club there and was supposedly allowed to preach Islam at lunch. Does anybody wonder what he used to say all decked out in his robes and with Koran in hand?
By the way, since the last election, the riding of Missisauga-Erindale is represented in Parliament by a Liberal M.P. and Saudi immigrant by the name of Omar Alghabra. He publicly supported the proposal for sharia law in Ontario and has acquired something of a reputation as an apologist for militant Islam over the years that he served as mouthpiece for the Canadian Arab Federation. At his nomination meeting, one of his supporters sparked a controversy, when he acclaimed from the podium and in the candidate’s august presence that "this is a victory for Islam. Islam won. Islam won... Islamic power is extending into Canadian politics." And all this was greeted with ecstatic shouts of "Allahu Akbar." Nice multicultural touch, eh?
It’s unfortunate that the Alghabra incident was largely ignored by the mainstream media and quickly fizzled out because the initial allegations incorrectly attributed the inflammatory remarks to the candidate himself. I guess it’s okay if your supporters get carried away as long as you only smile and don’t say anything yourself.
In 2000 there were already 254,110 Muslims living in Toronto according to the 2001 census. And since then 13,000 more Muslims have arrived on average every year, raising the number of Muslims in Toronto to at least 320 thousand and probably many more, taking into account the natural increase of a young fertile Muslim population. In the year 2000, Muslims already comprised 5.5 per cent of the Toronto population. That proportion should now be approaching 7 per cent.
You don’t have to be an Islamophobe to begin to worry about this growing Islamic presence in Toronto, especially after the Deputy Director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Agency’s revelation that since 9/11 CSIS has only been able to screen a scant 10 per cent of immigrants from Afghanistan and Pakistan. The United Kingdom, Netherlands and France each have already had their own unique problems with a growing Muslim community amounting to, respectively, 4, 6 or 8 per cent of their total populations. The extent to which Muslim immigrants are increasingly segregated and fundamentalist in orientation has no doubt exacerbated these problems. In spite of all the denials of multiculturalists, this is also increasingly becoming the Canadian reality.
For a change, the usually politically-correct Canadian Broadcasting Corporation did the country a real service by continuously running clips for almost two weeks live from the Courthouse in Mississauga’s neighbor Brampton featuring the comings and goings of men clad in Islamic robes and skullcaps and women in black niqabs, including the Khadrs, Canada’s notorious Al Qaeda family who had the honor of living with Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan. The CBC didn’t intend to, but it sure gave Canadians a good lesson in what the families of terrorist suspects are likely to look like.
I hate to have to say it, but Canada’s terrorist problem is only going to grow. A combination of good luck and sound police work saved us this time, but it would be foolish to expect this to always be the case.
FP: Thank you Patrick Grady. Michael Marzolini?
Marzolini: Public opinion polling has consistently shown that Canadians really do not understand Al Qaeda and the terrorist threat. They perceive the former to be an organization, not an international movement that has no ethnic boundaries. Al Qaeda, if just an organization, could surely find better political targets in North America than Toronto, Ottawa, Medicine Hat or Moose Factory. Which is why a majority of Canadians continue, even after the recent arrests, to maintain, "Terrorist acts won't happen here." But Al Qaeda is actually a movement, based upon religion, and within that religion, ideology. As such, it has the potential to be a homegrown problem.
Though Stewart points to the diverse origins of the suspects; many from countries that are seldom connected with terrorism like Jamaica and Somalia, some of the suspects are from closer to home.
Indeed, one of these men was born in Canada, of wealthy professional parents who came to Canada back in 1956. He lives in a palatial house and should have been fully integrated with Canadian society. He should have been one of "us", an ally, not one of "them". That such an ally could turn out to be a potential turncoat is likely more shocking to Torontonians, than if they had discovered the existence of a foreign Al Qaeda cell working within their city.
Patrick also makes a very key point: Toronto is the home to 320,000 Muslims. Politically, with such a large population, the Muslim community feels that they should be represented in government by at least four Muslim Members of Parliament. Yet, until the election of Omar Alghabra, this community was totally devoid of representation in Parliament - not just in Toronto, but also in all of Canada. Many Muslim leaders take the view that until their community has a voice in government; they will never be fully integrated, and could be vulnerable to foreign temptation. However, with only one elected representative, they have far to go.
This of course does not explain the wealthy suspect whose family has enjoyed almost fifty years of prosperity in Canada. He was never marginalized or relegated to the under-class. He has no reason to hate. Perhaps the answer to his conversion can be found in the Mosques, where many imams, like the outspoken Ally Hindy have made no secret of their views and their sympathies. Canada is known internationally for its tolerance and easy-going nature. After this new threat, and the potential for more, perhaps it is finally time to place greater reliance on that great Canadian stereotype, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
FP: Thank you sir. Robert Spencer, you have been following the events closely, what are your thoughts?
Spencer: I think the most telling aspect of this case is the number of Muslims who have come forward since the arrests and said that they knew that these men were teaching and advocating jihad and hatred of Jews and Christians. It is striking that none of them came to authorities before the arrests and reported these activities. We are only hearing now that they're behind bars that this has been going on for a long time, and many Muslims knew it.
We have heard many times that the vast majority of Muslims in the West are decent, law-abiding citizens who do not engage in jihad terrorism. That is manifestly true: most Muslims in the West are not engaging in terrorist activity. Many no doubt have no intention of ever doing so. But the arrests have renewed questions about to what extent Muslims in Canada and other Western countries who are not engaging in terrorist plotting actually disapprove of such plotting – and how many passively allow it to continue under their noses either out of fear or because the ideological kinship between them and the plotters is closer than most Western authorities would like to believe.
Take for example one of the suspects, Qayyum Abdul Jamal. We have now learned that he was actively spreading the jihad ideology at the Ar-Rahman Islamic Center for Islamic Education in southern Ontario. But mosque officials say that because Jamal unlocked the mosque for daily prayers and took out the trash, they, in the words of the Washington Post, "tolerated his vitriolic speeches." No one seems to have asked Ar-Rahman Islamic Center officials why they thought taking out the trash was a sufficient counterbalance to preaching hatred and violence.
An imam in Toronto, Sayyid Ahmed Amiruddin, said that the plotters were influenced by Saudi jihad propaganda, and that mainstream Canadian Muslims organizations did nothing to combat the influence of this material. Another Toronto Muslim, Mohammed Robert Heft, observed that "extremism is prevalent in the Toronto area.” Heft claimed that he was dedicated to combating this “extremism,” yet although he knew some of the plotters he too apparently did nothing to alert Canadian authorities to Ahmad’s views.
Canadian authorities, and officials in all Western countries, have been supine in the face of all this kind of thing for far too long. The jihad arrests in Canada should focus scrutiny not on the alleged misbehavior of Canadian law enforcement officials, but on the Muslim communities tolerance of the jihadist evil they profess to abhor. Law enforcement authorities in the West should call Muslim communities in their countries to account on this, and quickly -- or risk the successful execution of a jihad plot planned and carried out under the noses of silent and supposedly moderate Western Muslims.
Marsden: Yes, maybe the police should strategically refrain from uttering the word "Muslim" and hope that, in doing so, Muslims will flood the 1-800-NOJIHAD terrorism reporting hotline and turn in their Muslim brethren to the "infidels".
Or perhaps we should look inward -- perhaps at the lint in our bellybuttons for all the good it'll do -- and try to figure out why even middle class Muslims, enjoying the luxuries of Canadian life, would want to blow us up. Forget the fact that none of the 9/11 hijackers were paupers--there MUST be an answer here somewhere!
I've just about had enough of this rationalization garbage. When Tim McVeigh (a white guy) blew up the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, he said that he did it because he was mad at the government. Yeah well, aren't they all. Timmy was reportedly angry because of the way cult leader David Koresh was treated by the ATF.
Subsequently, a major commission of inquiry was called to figure out ways to prevent more white men like Timmy from becoming angry with the government and to encourage more Caucasians (particularly those who are fluent in the universal terrorism language of "bats*** crazy talk") to get all cozy with the police in order to improve their counter-terrorism efforts. Of course, none of this actually took place. Why? Because no one gave a damn what Tim McVeigh's motives really were, or what bone he had to pick with the government. The guy was a terrorist, so we just treated him to a well-deserved needle nap and called it a day. We didn't worry too much about his ramblings or justification. And guys like McVeigh who happen to be of a different skin colour should get the exact same treatment. Because that's what equal rights are all about. And I'm all for that.
Here's an idea: Rather than relying on Muslims to turn over their own to the "infidel" police (good luck with that), how about we get some undercover cops running as political candidates in some of these heavily Muslim electoral districts? They could run as Conservatives, since there would be pretty much zero chance of them actually winning in a Muslim district, particularly near Toronto. They'd get into the mosques and the community, mingle with the locals, and be able to see for themselves if there's anything untoward going on.
And Canada needs to start charging some of these imams and giving our hate speech laws a workout. Seems like there's some nice, low hanging fruit here.
Bell: I don't think Canada's problem is multiculturalism alone.
It was the failure of our leaders to recognize that if Canada was going to be the kind of utopian rainbow they envisioned then it was not enough just to open the floodgates of immigration.
For it to work, open immigration had to be accompanied by strict screening and counter-terrorism to prevent the kind of scenario we have right now, where we are handing out passports like candy to people who hate Canada and want to turn it into a totalitarian nightmare, sometimes violently.
Even the extremists who claim to like Canada can only think of one thing they like about it: its tolerance, meaning we tolerate those who would not be tolerated anywhere else.
Trudeau-idealists like to use slogans like "the world needs more Canada," when in fact what is happening is Canada is becoming more and more like the most rotten backwards parts of the world - Pakistan, for example.
It is Canada that needs to become more like Canada. How do we do that?
First of all, stop whining about the rights of terrorists and give our counter-terror agencies the tools they need to deal with the killers who are the sharp spear of the "al-Qaeda" movement.
Second, Canadians in general and our political leadership in particular need to end their long silence and begin talking out loud about Canada, and what it really means to be Canadian beyond its tolerance of morons. The Australians and the Dutch have been doing this; we should do it too.
We have built a great nation here, and we should not be ashamed to defend it from an onslaught by zealots, and the offspring of zealots, who were kicked out of their own homelands because they were considered too extreme even for countries like Egypt.
Grady: I have to disagree with Michael. The Muslim community of Toronto was not "totally devoid of representation" before the election of Omar Alghabra in the 2006 election. Mr. Alghabra joined Wahid Khan, another Muslim, who was already representing the neighboring riding of Mississauga-Streetsville.
More fundamentally though, I have a real problem with Michael’s implied support for the view that the Muslim community in Toronto should be "represented in government by at least four Muslim Members of Parliament" based presumably on their population share. And worse I fear that many Liberal Party leaders and activists may share Michael’s simplistic, arithmetic view of what constitutes representative government.
If a multicultural society like Canada is to work, a Member of Parliament must represent the broader interests of his or her constituents, not the narrow interests of his or her ethnic community. Currently, the Muslim population is not sufficiently concentrated to win a riding in Toronto. According to a study done by the Canadian Islamic Congress, even the riding with the largest proportion of Muslims in Toronto only had a 13.5- per-cent Muslim population share. And only three other Toronto ridings had Muslim population shares greater than 10 per cent. So even with the Muslim population share rising because of immigration, it’s going to be a while before a Muslim MP is going to be able to get elected by the Muslim community alone without the help of a mainstream party, meaning mainly Liberal, organization and the wider community support only it can mobilize.
I strongly believe that it’s very important that Muslims be integrated in Canadian society and adopt Canadian values. They have to be discouraged from trying to use their growing political power to pursue purely Islamic objectives. This includes: efforts to reshape Canada along Islamic lines such as the recent sharia law schmozzle; any duplicitous ploys to undermine national security in the name of civil rights; and the unceasing pressures for Canada to adopt anti-American and anti-Israel foreign policy positions. To make real progress in integrating Muslims, we will need Muslim MPs like Conservative Rahim Jaffer, who acts like a true Canadian, and not like Liberal Omar Alghabra, who talks like an Islamic apologist. Stewart Bell certainly hit the nail on the head when he said that Canada needs to become more like Canada, and not like Pakistan.
Speaking of Pakistan, Qayyum Abdul Jamal, the alleged spiritual leader of the Toronto plot who’s from Pakistan, was tasked with introducing the other Muslim MP from Mississauga, Wahid Khan, a fellow Pakistani, when he visited the Al-Rahman Mosque in Mississauga last summer. To Mr. Kahn’s credit, he walked out after Mr. Jamal began ranting that "Canadian troops were (in Afghanistan) to rape Muslim women." But unfortunately nothing was done afterwards to eliminate the source of the problem. This incident provides yet another example of the Muslim community’s failure to stop the preaching of hate.
The Toronto arrests were a good, if belated start, in curtailing the growth of Islamic terror in Canada. But as long as there is a large radical Muslim community in Canada, the threat of terrorism will persist. The old Liberal Government was reluctant to take the bull by the horns. While it rushed an Anti-Terrorism Act through after 9/11, it remained reluctant to use the tools provided out of fear of offending the Muslim community.
The only person who has actually been prosecuted under the Anti-Terrorism Act was Momin Khawaja and he was apprehended thanks to British police and U.S. intelligence, and not Canadian police work. Instead of vigorously pursuing radical Islamists, the former Liberal Government was more concerned with avoiding any perceptions that the rights of ultra-sensitive Muslim Canadians might possibly be violated. It also gave the Muslim community exactly the wrong signal by allowing the notorious Khadrs back into the country to sponge off Canada’s generous welfare and health systems when they should have had their Canadian citizenship revoked.
Following the return to Canada of Syrian-Canadian Maher Arar who was rendered to Syria by the United States for interrogation, the old Liberal Government set up the Arar Inquiry to look into RCMP and CSIS wrongdoing in providing information on Arar to the Americans. Against this backdrop, it also issued some ministerial directives that clamped down on RCMP national security probes. One required the RCMP to obtain prior ministerial approval before cooperating with or entering into a working arrangement with a foreign security or intelligence service and then only allowed this through CSIS. Another directive provided guidance on investigating "sensitive sectors" of society like religion. This was done to restrict the ability of the RCMP and CSIS to carry out U.S.-style investigations of mosques and Islamic centers, which have resulted in so many successful prosecutions south of the border. As far as I know, these three directives are still in effect, although when I asked the RCMP Commissioner about them in a public forum, he denied that they existed.
My greatest fear is that when the Arar Commission issues its long-awaited report this summer it will recommend additional constraints on law enforcement and intelligence, which the new Conservative Government will feel forced to go along with in response to the political pressure likely to be exerted by the many soft-hearted, and soft-headed, Canadians concerned to do penance for the way the big, bad American Government treated poor, little Maher Arar. If so, it will play right into the hands of the terrorists and make it much more difficult for the RCMP to continue to do the job they did so admirably last month in Toronto.
Marzolini: Thank you Patrick, for bringing up a good point about Muslim representation in Canada's Parliament. However, while there were indeed other Muslim Members of Parliament before Omar Alghabra, they are not recognized as such by many Muslim organizations. And this again illustrates the troubling lack of social cohesion within the Muslim community, and in its relations with other communities. Conservative MP Rahim Jaffer, who you praise for "acting like a true Canadian", belongs to the Ismaili sect of Islam. In every election, Muslim organizations publish lists of Muslim candidates running for Parliament. Rahim Jaffer, like Yasmin Ratansi, Canada's first female Muslim MP, have always been deliberately ignored - their names removed from these lists. As Ismailis, they were not deemed by many of these organizations to be true Muslims. Omar Alghabra is still considered, by his own community, to be the first Arab Muslim Member of Parliament.
Putting these technicalities aside, Patrick's views on how representative government "should" work in Canada, are not much different from how it "does" work. Yes indeed, elected representatives should represent the broad interests of their constituents, and not the narrow interests of their ethnic communities. I doubt that anyone, from Rahim Jaffer to Omar Alghabra, would deny that. I remember a political campaign in 1980 when an Irish-Canadian was elected largely by the Toronto Italian community, on a ticket of being "the Italian community's voice in Parliament." As time passed, this type of "paternalism" was rejected, and the Italians fought for a place in the nation's government. They are now actually over-represented in Parliament for their population, but none are there to represent narrow interests.
After the Italians came other groups; Chinese, Greeks, Portuguese, Sikhs, Tamils, Vietnamese, to the point where almost every race and ethnic group now wields some political clout in Canada. None of them are there as advocates only for their community's narrow interests - and all have a fairly good record of integration into their political parties and the national agenda. Even Croatian and Serbian Canadians both serve in Canada's Parliament without bringing up their balkanizing historical rivalries. The Muslim community however, is new at this. They have always had to rely upon other cultures to judge their interests, and quite naturally, they believe that their perspectives should be similarly represented.
However the "simple arithmetic view" of what constitutes adequate representation is made more complex by the many different Muslim communities in Canada. Sunni, Shia, Ismaili and Ahmadi are represented by dozens of different and competing organizations and associations. The Canadian Islamic Congress, the Muslim Canadian Congress, the Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations, the Islamic Forum of Canada, the Muslim Association of Canada, the Canadian Society of Muslims....the list goes on and on. Clearly these diverse communities, having arrived in Canada from more than 50 different countries, have some consolidation and internal organization to perform before trying to take their concerns to government.
Taking the view that Muslims do not deserve to be proportionally represented did not work in Paris last year, and it did not work in London. Muslims should indeed be integrated into Canadian society - I'm glad Patrick and I can agree on that at least. They must become defenders of the establishment, guardians of their standard of living and quality of life. But true integration also requires a political voice for their ethno-cultural perspective. It would indeed be convenient if Muslims would adopt Canadian values, as Patrick suggests. Though as a pollster, I know that while it is easy to change opinions, people's values - especially religious values - are far more difficult. Ask the average North American to change their values overnight on abortion, capital punishment or same-sex marriage, and you'll see the problem. Over a decade, with the passing of time, gaining of experience and age, some values do change - but always very gradually.
And finally Patrick, please do not blame the Ontario experience with Sharia Law on the Muslim community. Sure, many of them might have welcomed it, but they did not originate the proposal. That idea came from a former socialist politician, Marion Boyd, best known for approving the plea-bargain that awarded serial killer Karla Homolka a trivial prison sentence in exchange for testifying against her husband. Was the proposal a flirtation with disaster? Not at all. The public debate was instructive for Canadians - very few had ever heard of Sharia Law before, and had no idea what it meant. It was an opportunity for Canadians to evaluate the proposal, discuss it among themselves, understand it, and then finally reject it. Government acted upon the majority opinion, and threw the proposal out. Conspicuous by their absence was any organized lobbying or public relations effort from the Muslim community, and surprisingly little outcry when it failed. For non-Muslims, the process was both educational and empowering. Without gaining an understanding of Sharia Law through the widespread public discussion, they might not have agreed with the government's verdict.
While economic, social and political integration all contribute to inoculating society from terrorism, it can never be enough. A carrot and a stick approach are both necessary when dealing with all criminal activities, not just terrorism. The necessary activities of Canada's security forces have been hampered, if not shackled, by political correctness and pressure for extreme sensitivity. We all seem to agree on that. But an even greater problem lies with Canada's legal system, illustrated by the recent case of Mahmoud Mohammad Issa Mohammad. This convicted PFLP terrorist helped hijack an Israeli airliner in Athens in 1968, killing an Israeli citizen. He has lived comfortably in Canada for 18 years, fighting deportation to Lebanon, after entering Canada illegally. Though not a Canadian citizen, this terrorist has rights - many of which supersede those held by law-abiding Canadian citizens. Mohammad's taxpayer-provided legal team, stringing out the process through various appeals, now argue that it would be "cruel and unusual to send Mr. Mohammad back to Lebanon where stateless Palestinians in refugee camps face extremely harsh conditions."
The courts tolerate this state of affairs, frustrating the great majority of Canadians which include, to their credit, many outraged Muslims, and giving Americans the right to once more shake their heads in amazement at their northern neighbors' institutional weakness toward society's villains.
Spencer: Stewart Bell is absolutely right that Canada’s open-borders policy, which is seriously flawed in any case for a huge number of reasons, should have been “accompanied by strict screening and counter-terrorism.” But for that screening and counter-terrorism to have had a remote chance of being effective, Canadian officials would have had to ask potential immigrants hard questions about their views of jihad and Sharia, and not been willing to accept any actions by the immigrants, once they were accepted into Canada, that contradicted their answers. But no Western government is prepared to do that at this point.
Nor will the problem be solved by representation. Many Western analysts are content to see Muslim participation in the electoral process in Western countries as a sign that they are becoming assimilated. While this may be true for some Muslim individuals who begin to exercise the franchise and vote for Muslim representatives, it would be naïve to assume that participation in the political process equals, for the Muslim community in general, an acceptance of the philosophical and cultural principles underlying that process. This is particularly true for Muslim communities in Canada and elsewhere in the West – not out of some supremacist notion that Muslims are somehow incapable of enjoying freedoms that are valued by other groups, but stemming from the nature of Islam as containing a political and societal imperative that does not fit easily, if at all, within the framework of modern Western pluralism.
A multicultural society cannot work in Canada or anywhere else if it recognizes no limits to its tolerance, and accepts uncritically and with no restrictions a large group of people who are determined to change the nature of that society. The question of the viability of multiculturalism as a societal model in general is beyond the scope of our discussion here, but it is certain that no society that idolizes tolerance, as Canada is today, can survive a massive influx of people who do not accept tolerance in principle, and believe that they must ultimately coexist with others only if those others are socially and legally inferior to them. That is the perspective of Sharia toward non-Muslims. Ultimately it must be reckoned with.
The nature of Sharia makes it imperative not only that Muslims in the West should be “discouraged from trying to use their growing political power to pursue purely Islamic objectives,” as Patrick Grady puts it. They should not only be discouraged from doing this, but made to understand that efforts to bring Sharia to Canada are positively unwelcome in the country – as are the individuals and groups who spearhead such efforts. The West has prided itself in recent decades on its efforts on behalf of women’s rights and minority rights. Western officials should recognize that women and non-Muslim religious groups have severely restricted rights under Sharia – and not allow themselves to be pulled along by multiculturalism into supporting introduction of elements of Sharia into the West. It is not just that, as Michael Marzolini says, the Muslim community is “new” at putting aside its narrow interests. In Sharia, the Muslim community brings to Canada something that Chinese, Greeks, Portuguese, Sikhs, Tamils, Vietnamese and others never brought: a ready-made model for the societal makeover of their new country. This must be recognized, rejected, and resisted.
Of course Muslims must, as Marzolini also says, “become defenders of the establishment, guardians of their standard of living and quality of life.” But their own, as he puts it, “ethno-cultural perspective,” which he says should have a political voice in Canada, militates against that ever happening.
FP: Rachel Marsden, Stewart Bell, Patrick Grady, Michael Marzolini, and Robert Spencer, thank you for joining Frontpage Symposium.