Canadian Muslims a major asset to the country


Canadian Muslims a major asset to the country
Canadian Muslims a major asset to the country

Mohammed Azhar Ali Khan

Montreal anti-Muslim blogger Point de Bascule criticized two Muslim organizations in Canada and then attacked me for trying to put the matter in perspective. When the National Council of Canadian Muslims criticized  the Prime Minister last year for including an extremist in his entourage to Israel  - a criticism other organizations also made - the Prime Minister’s director of communications stated that NCCM has “documented ties with the terrorist organization Hamas.”

Many media and other organizations asked why if NCCM had ties with a terrorist organization, the government had not taken action. NCCM launched a defamation suit against the Prime Minister’s Office. I wrote that NCCM should not waste time, money or energy in a lawsuit because the public reaction showed that the PMO’s diatribe against NCCM did not convince Canadians that NCCM had ties with terrorists. NCCM works with civil organizations to defend human rights and the rule of law in Canada.

Bascule then ridiculed my criticism of the arguments made by University of Western Ontario professor Salim Mansur, who argued in a public debate that Muslim immigration to Canada be curtailed or eliminated because Muslims do not share Canadian values and mosques are promoting radicalism.

Professor Mansur teaches at a prestigious university. But he offered no reliable evidence that Muslims do not share Canadian values and do not become productive citizens. The great majority do. The statement about mosques spawning radicalism is also baseless. While some imams might have preached intolerance in rare cases, most imams emphasize that it is the duty of Muslims to serve and protect Canada. Mosques arrange interfaith dialogue with people of other faiths and seek to promote better relations between Muslims and their fellow Canadians of other faiths.

Informed commentators state that it is the Internet, social media and the policies of some Western countries to attack or seriously harm Muslim countries through their policies in the Middle East that drive a few youth to hit back against continued aggression, exploitation and oppression.

Bascule repeated Mansur’s statement that the Muslim Association of Canada “draws inspiration from the Muslim Brotherhood, which seeks to subvert the West from within through immigration.”

As the senior adviser and director of multiculturalism in the royal commission the Citizens’ Forum on Canada’s Future (the Spicer Commission), I visited all parts of the country and conferred with ethnic Canadians, including Muslims, of all origins. The one desire they shared was to contribute to Canada and to build a promising future for their children.

I served as a refugee judge for ten years as a Member of the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada. Numerous refugee claimants were Muslims who testified that they feared persecution in their home countries on grounds of race, religion, ethnicity or political opinion. They yearned for peace, security and prosperity in Canada and were most grateful if we found that they met the requirements of the law and were eligible to stay in Canada. Subverting Canada was the last thing on their mind.

It is absurd to think that immigrants would want to, or could even if they wished, subvert the mighty West from within. It is equally ridiculous to imagine that a tiny minority of Muslims could impose Shariah in North America. And if subverting the West from within was that easy the Communists would have done so long ago through the Communist parties in the West.

I judge organizations not so much on their websites or mission statements, which organizations do not always follow, but on their work in the real world. MAC is a highly respected national organization. It seeks to inculcate Islamic values and solid Canadian citizenship among youth. Its Abrar School in Ottawa is among the best in Ontario. It encourages students, through scholarships and awards, to become top students and productive citizens.

Many Third World organizations like the African National Congress and the Indian Congress party were created when their countries were under foreign control, with locals often serving colonial masters. The East India Company, for example, used Indian sepoys to defeat Sikh and Muslim nationalists and to conquer India through its divide and rule policy.

People like Nelson Mandela, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Mahatma Gandhi, Jomo Kenyatta and many others were dubbed terrorist or subversive by the colonial rulers and were jailed for long years for the crime of seeking freedom. A million Algerians were killed in their quest for independence.

Perhaps Bascule has difficulty understanding why people would be influenced by some leaders who yearned to preserve their culture while seeking modernity and freedom. Immigrants to Canada do not have this dilemma. They cherish their values and they love Canada. Their children, even more than the immigrants, lose interest in their parents’ countries and become attached to Canada and to their Canadian friends. They become pillars of Canada, not a threat.

Mohammed Azhar Ali Khan is a retired Canadian journalist, civil servant and refugee judge.