“But Souheil Merhi, chairman of the Muslim Council of Calgary, said the photo is offensive and promotes hatred, portraying Muslims as terrorists — ‘as people who should be shot or belittled.'” Osama bin Laden was an Islamic jihadist who murdered 3,000 people in obedience to passages he read in the Qur’an and Hadith. But Souheil Merhi would probably say that Osama misunderstood those passages, and that he rejects that understanding of Islam, and is just much against terrorism as Rob Anders and Melissa Mathieson. So what is the problem here? Merhi wants it both ways: he wants to be regarded as a “moderate” while working against even the slightest effort to resist or stand up to jihad terror.
“MP Rob Anders’ shooting range photo in front of turban-clad ‘zombie Osama’ target promotes hatred, Muslim leader says,” by Reid Southwick for Postmedia News, February 10:
CALGARY — A Calgary Muslim leader says a photograph showing MP Rob Anders and federal candidate Melissa Mathieson at a firing range in front of a target depicting a lifelike image of a terrorist promotes hatred.
But not everyone says the photo, which has been circulating on social media, poses a real problem.
The image has sparked debate about what lifelike figures are appropriate targets for firing ranges and whether there is a line, however narrow, that should not be crossed.
The photo shows Anders, the MP for Calgary West, and Mathieson, who is vying for the federal Conservative nomination in the upcoming Macleod byelection, standing back-to-back with guns in their hands at a Calgary shooting range last weekend.
Behind them is a target depicting a caricature of a bearded Muslim man wearing a turban and torn clothes, with an assault rifle in his hands. A website that sells the same target, ZombieTargets.net, identifies the character as a zombie Osama bin Laden.
Duane Bratt, a political scientist at Calgary’s Mount Royal University, said the first time he saw the photo he thought the target was racist because he assumed it portrayed a generic Muslim terrorist. After learning it was bin Laden, he changed his mind, calling it “harmless fun.”
“I mean, come on, if you can’t picture shooting Osama, who can you?” Bratt said in an email.
But Souheil Merhi, chairman of the Muslim Council of Calgary, said the photo is offensive and promotes hatred, portraying Muslims as terrorists — “as people who should be shot or belittled.”
“As leaders, they should promote tolerance and show the real image of Canada, a peaceful place where people come to enjoy freedom of speech and religion, and not being judged because of somebody else’s actions,” Merhi said.
Anders said he doesn’t remember seeing the bin Laden target when he was at the shooting range. He said there were more than a dozen different targets and that he fired at two of them, one depicting a clown and another portraying a nondescript male zombie.
The MP said it’s not unusual for firing ranges to use lifelike targets, rather than a typical bull’s eye.
When pressed to recall the bin Laden target, which was plainly visible behind him in the photo, Anders said, “I’m sure it was there if you say it was there but, you know, there were a lot of them.”
When reached a second time to respond to Merhi’s claims, Anders declined to comment and hung up his phone.
Mathieson said she had joined “law-abiding firearms owners for a friendly afternoon of target shooting” at the southeast Calgary range on Feb. 2, but she did not address the bin Laden target in a written statement to the Calgary Herald.
“As is typical for a gun range, there were a variety of paper targets posted down range throughout the day, being changed and replaced frequently by range organizers,” she said in the statement.
When contacted again to comment on Merhi’s allegations that the bin Laden image promotes hatred, Mathieson said she was busy campaigning and referred a reporter to her earlier statement.
Don Brown, vice-president of the association that owns the shooting range, said his group does not supply its members with targets. But he said he had no problem with the bin Laden image, given that it depicts a “cold-blooded killer.”
Nobody on the range that day, including the man who brought the controversial target, had any intention of disparaging Muslims, said Brown, of the Calgary and District Target Shooters Association.
Merhi would have a solid case if people were shooting at images of Allah or Muhammad, but they were taking aim at a caricature of a man who was responsible for thousands of deaths, he said.
“I know the guy who brought this target and put it up there,” Brown said. “It wouldn’t even have crossed his mind that this could have possibly been offensive to the Muslim people because he was just looking at it as a zombie Osama bin Laden.”