At least two things could be raised in connection with the Globe and Mail piece by Globe columnist Sheema Khan, below, out minutes ago:
1. The unusual wording of the explanation, following the article, for the newspaper website’s closing of comments on Khan’s column:
We have closed comments on this story for legal reasons. For more information on our commenting policies and how our community-based moderation works, please read our Community Guidelines and our Terms and Conditions.
Might the “legal reasons” have to do with the possibility that some readers would expose Dr Khan’s history as founding Chair of the Canadian chapter of CAIR? Its name was changed a few years ago, to National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM). Might there have been some truth-teller among the readership, who’d have been tempted to steer a bit too near defamation?
2. Dr Khan appears not to have been shy about using hyperlinks in her text when it suited her to buttress certain significant statements. Why, then, would she have failed to do so, in this case?:
… Muslim institutions must continue to thoroughly vet new imams, activists and guest speakers for all forms of hate speech and jihad recruitment. It seems to be working here: In many instances, Canadian Muslims have been the first to alert authorities of suspicious behaviour. …
Could the absence of links hint that there is a dearth of evidence for this proposition?
I’ll not take your time commenting on the article’s propagating of the Islamophobia theme, or on the possible, implicit invitation to have citizens remain asleep, Brit-style. However, in an act of crass self-indulgence, I’ll permit myself to include, below, a 2005 Globe and Mail editorial in which the newspaper was driven to condemn its own columnist, Dr Khan. In my opinion, it illustrates Khan’s role as a rather charming but ultimately divisive and undesirable purveyor of the Muslim victimhood narrative — among other things.
By way of disclosure-cum-reminder, I must mention that Dr Khan and CAIR.CAN sued me unsuccessfully for libel, in 2004.
“After Edmonton attack, vigilance and defiance,” by Sheema Khan, Globe and Mail, October 1, 2017:
We thought we were immune. So did the residents of Nice, London, Barcelona and Berlin. As of Saturday, Edmonton now joins the dubious list of cities in which vehicles have been used as instruments of terror against civilians and officers.
Yet as security expert Phil Gurski has observed, recent court decisions point to a growing presence of Islamic State ideology on Canadian soil. In the past week alone, a Quebec man was sentenced to nine years in prison for attempting to join Islamic State. And a former University of Manitoba student was convicted of providing material support to al-Qaeda; his two Canadian accomplices have disappeared and are presumed dead. In addition, within the past year, police killed would-be suicide bomber Aaron Driver in Ontario, while IS-devotee Rehab Dughmosh awaits trial for attacking Canadian Tire patrons with a knife and a golf club in June. And let’s not forget that there have been about 100 Canadians who have left to join IS, with a subset seeking to return.
It is clear that Islamic State advocates pure hatred against anyone who does not ascribe to its ideology. This includes most Muslims worldwide. The group has even put out a “hit list” of Muslim leaders in Canada and the U.S., whom the group deems as traitors. Their goal is clear: maim or kill as many as possible, thereby spreading division and hatred within societies.
We must not let them succeed.
In the coming days, political leadership will be key for uniting citizens, while setting a tone of defiant resilience. Grassroots initiatives will be important for strengthening our social fabric, based on our bonds of common humanity. Let us join vigils, pray together and offer compassionate solidarity with the victims. We are stronger together. And let us remain vigilant against those who exploit this attack to spread hatred against Muslims. This is the vicious cycle that Islamic State aims to put into motion.
We can also learn from the response of other countries where such attacks have occurred. Across the pond, “keep calm and carry on” is exemplary, for it teaches us not to give in to our fears, nor to the goals of those who seek to divide us. In Barcelona, half a million people marched in a peace rally under the banner “I am not afraid,” echoing the London message. Muslims were prominent in the rally, with condemnation while reclaiming their faith, emphasizing “Not in my name.” There was also important messaging against xenophobia in the forms of signs reading “No to Islamophobia.”
A recent study by West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center on radicalization in Spain between 2013-2016, indicates that in 87 per cent of arrests, a radicalizing agent was key. In 69 per cent of arrests, strong social bonds were present amongst detainees. Taken together, the study advises the use of law enforcement to focus programs on where both sets of conditions exist. It also suggests that this model is applicable in other jurisdictions beset with radicalization and violent extremism. Muslim institutions must continue to thoroughly vet new imams, activists and guest speakers for all forms of hate speech and jihad recruitment. It seems to be working here: In many instances, Canadian Muslims have been the first to alert authorities of suspicious behaviour….
Here is the Globe and Mail’s 2005 condemnation of Khan: “First, remember who the real victims were,” Globe and Mail, July 14, 2005:
The victims of last week’s London bombings have not all been identified, or even located, yet some Muslim intellectuals in Canada have already begun jostling for a spot on victimhood’s centre stage. This is not only bad form; it’s plain wrong on the facts, and a shamefully equivocal reply to terrorism.
“If there is one segment of Canadian society that has lived with the constant fear of terrorist attacks,” wrote Sheema Khan, who is head of the Council on American Islamic Relations (Canada) and has a regular op-ed column in The Globe and Mail, “it is Canadian Muslims and Arabs. They know they will bear the brunt of the fallout.” She went on to wonder what would happen if Islamist terrorists were to strike at Canada. “Is internment in the works? Mass deportation of non-citizens? Limits placed on individual rights and freedom of movement?” The Canadian government, she says, has been “conspicuously silent on its contingency plans.”
Separately, Mohamed Elmasry of the Canadian Islamic Congress issued a news release on the day of the bombings denouncing terrorism and saying in the next breath that Canadian Muslims pray they will not be found guilty by association.
These exemplify the “yes, but” responses to terrorism. Yes, but we are victims, too. Yes, we abhor terror, but what about Israeli settlements, what about the U.S. invasion of Iraq, what about all those bad things the West does to Muslims? This is a tilling of the very soil from which terrorism springs — not poverty or disaffected youth in and of themselves (they are nearly universal), but victimology, a sense of grievance so profound it justifies virtually anything done in its name.
Compare the “yes, but” response to what Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian leader, said this week after a suicidebomber killed two Israelis in Netanya, near Tel Aviv, at the very time Israel is withdrawing from Gaza. “This is a crime against the Palestinian people.” That is an unequivocal message. It says the terrorists are harming the very people whose interests they claim to defend. It is much more than a pro forma denunciation of terrorism. It’s an attempt to expose the terrorists in their own communities, and change the culture that sustains them.
Or compare the “yes, but” approach to the clear public statements yesterday by the four Muslim MPs in Britain’s Parliament. They said the Muslim community must do more than condemn terror; it must confront it. “The message is that we cannot tolerate these people in our midst and, if we have in the past, we have to be stronger,” said Mohammed Sarwar, a Labour MP.
Much is made by Ms. Khan and Dr. Elmasry of the potential backlash in Canada, but this country’s record suggests little reason for worry. After the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington on Sept. 11, 2001, prime minister Jean Chrétien went to religious services at a Muslim mosque to promote tolerance. Conspicuous? Yes. Silent? No….
David B. Harris is director of the International Intelligence Program for INSIGNIS Strategic Research Inc. in Ottawa.