They say the Mounties always get their man. But do they sometimes get the wrong imam?
This is one of many questions coming out of the second annual "Muslims of Tomorrow 2009" conference sponsored in part by Canada's Royal Canadian Mounted Police on June 13. A product of efforts by the RCMP National Security Program in British Columbia, and something called the "RCMP National Security Youth Advisory Council (BC)," the initiative reflects the shaky history of the Force's involvement in Islamic outreach.
Mounties rushed into outreach following 9/11, and the results were not always pretty. The former head of the Force's National Security outreach group was Inspector Wayne Hanniman, whose fondest hope – expressed in a public briefing – was to work as a traffic cop in British Columbia, a unique aspiration for one involved in the high-risk and subtle area of Islamic outreach and Islamist subversion. Consistent with this goal, he formed an RCMP ethno-cultural national security consultative group whose membership inadvertently included some of the more radical elements in Canadian society.
Moderate Muslims were shocked to find the Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-CAN), a chapter of the US unindicted co-conspirator outfit, CAIR, invited to participate. Under the Inspector's wing, a CAIR-CAN official was even escorted around the Canadian Security Intelligence Service offices. The farce worsened as the National Security group's public briefings eventually came to cite CAIR-CAN's misleading studies of Muslim victimhood, thus doing the divisive propagandistic work of Islamists for them (For a reaction to Canada's victimhood bandwagon, click here). Inspector Hanniman was last seen leading Canada's UN police contingent in Sudan, where he was featured in a flattering Department of Foreign Affairs magazine article written by a journalist known for her accommodating coverage of CAIR-CAN and similar groups.
A similarly impulsive approach was taken in the creating of mirror "youth councils" by the National Security outreach group. The RCMP's headlong rush to get into the outreach business resulted in the national security team's hiring a bright young university graduate with suitable "diversity" credentials, but no noticeable familiarity with national security. Soon after coming aboard, Ms. Dahlia Nawwar announced in the course of a public presentation that she wanted to complete a study of the causes of youth radicalism. Singing from the "root causes" songbook, she made clear that she adhered to the apologist view that Islamic extremism was all simply a matter of reaction to oppression and alienation. Nawwar's remarks showed no appreciation of the doctors, lawyers, engineers and other privileged classes that inspired, organized and underpinned extremism from the Muslim Brotherhood to al-Qaeda. But they did sidestep altogether the militant Qur'anic "sword verses" so routinely invoked by terrorists themselves as their sole motivation for violence.
Which gets us to "Muslims of Tomorrow."
Although the national security outreach efforts claim to be aimed at heading off radicalism of all kinds, the conference shows a heavy concentration on Muslim concerns and perspectives – and not the most moderate among those. It is far from clear, for example, that similar resources and publicity have gone into preoccupations of other "at risk" immigrant groups, or that a federal police agency has any business getting involved in determining what tomorrow's Muslims should look like, sound like, dress like or believe in. Even those who think government should be in the business of religion, will not soon expect similar quantities of RCMP dollars and prestige to flow into "Hindus of Tomorrow" or "Christians of Tomorrow" conferences.
In the meantime, compliant national security outreach functionaries once again seem inclined to preside over a Muslim conference premised on the discredited Islamist propaganda theme of Canadian Muslims as victims of their non-Muslim neighbors. So, as day follows night, the theme of this year's gathering is the media portrayal of Canadian Muslims. RCMP publicity includes references to popular and largely-unsubstantiated Islamist themes: anti-Muslim bias, fear of backlash, and so on.
Two respected Canadian journalists are to figure on the "Tomorrow" panel, and the Islamic content is rounded out by panellist Imam Dr. Reda Bedeir. In some ways, Imam Bedeir's selection reflects how tricky and ill-advised RCMP and Government involvement in religion can be.
Bedeir has a distinguished intellectual history, with an impressive list of credentials. He was even listed among the host of people attending the Governor General's Canadian Leadership Conference 2008. But in inviting Dr. Bedeir – or at least associating themselves with him through the "Muslims of Tomorrow" event – the RCMP's national security outreach unit could be interpreted, in the name of the RCMP and Government of Canada, to confer legitimacy on his brand of Islam, and to commend its practice to young Muslim conference-goers. This may or may not be a comforting thought.
Like many Islamic scholars, Dr. Bedeir shares advice. In an article dealing with homosexuality, he declares the orientation "clearly sinful," "a perverted deviation from the norm," a matter of "choice", and equates it to alcoholism, addiction and gambling. "[G]ay acts," writes Dr. Bedeir, are "unlawful" in the eyes of all Islamic schools of thought and jurisprudence". As for these schools:
"They only differ in terms of penalty. Some say that no physical punishment is warranted. Some see that severe punishment is warranted, while others require a minimum of 4 adult male witnesses before a person can be found guilty of a homosexual act."
Bedeir appears not to rule out "severe punishment," something that might assume major significance if one were to take seriously what is termed a "useful" web link appearing at the end of his article. The link is to advice on homosexuality by Dr. Taha Jaber Al-'Alwani, President of the Graduate School of Islamic and Social Sciences in Herndon, VA, and then president of the Fiqh Council. Al-Awani also is past president of the International Institute of Islamic Thought, suspected of financing terrorist groups.
The President of the Fiqh Council concludes:
"Verily, the punishment here is the burning of both homosexuals (the actor and acted upon) or stoning them with rocks till death because Allah Most High stoned the people of Lut after demolishing their village."
Is this the view of Dr. Bedeir? If so, would the RCMP National Security Community Outreach Program and the Government of Canada, support it? Would its proponents be appropriate role models for youth? Based on the Supreme Court of Canada's same-sex constitutional decisions, even the cosmically-expanding cultural-sensitivity standards of RCMP outreach wouldn't justify the burning and stoning of a Canadian minority. Yet.
This raises another issue and another minority.
Dr. Bedeir is an instructor at the AlMaghrib Institute, an Islamic educational organization with a presence across the United States and Canada – and a certain Saudi flavor. A fellow AlMaghrib instructor is Yasir Qadhi, reportedly a self-described terror watch listee. As David Ouellette, of the now-defunct Judeoscope website put it, "at least ... one of his exegeses, combines traditional Islamic anti-Jewish moti[f]s with Western anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial." A recording of Dr. Qadhi's spine-chilling meanderings on Jews is offered in "Part 8," here.
Dr. Qadhi is still with AlMaghrib. Does this mean that his public views reflect those of AlMaghrib? Would this mean that AlMaghrib instructors should not be lionized panellists before an audience of impressionable Muslim youth – and apparently more impressionable RCMP outreachers? Does Dr. Bedeir share the Qadhi take on those pesky Yahoods? If so, would the RCMP National Security Community Outreach Program agree with Bedeir – and Imam Qadhi? Did anyone bother to research the question before sending out the "Muslims of Tomorrow 2009" invitations? Are some outreach program organizers sympathetic to AlMaghrib-type views?
Meanwhile, the RCMP advertising of the "Tomorrow" event boasts that Dr. Bedeir is Imam of British Columbia's Burnaby Al-Salaam Mosque. This Mosque appears to have been the site of "Parents of Today: Protecting the Muslims of Tomorrow," a March 2008 forum that was, according to its publicity, "Sponsored by RCMP Advisory Committee." A listed "key speaker" was Bosnia-born Imam Dr. Zijad Delic, National Executive Director of the Canadian Islamic Congress, one of the most radical of Canada's fraternity of Islamist organizations . Radical, maybe, but apparently good enough for an RCMP "Advisory Committee" dedicated to keeping youth away from, well, radicalism.
WHERE TO FROM HERE?
Canadians and their allies must ask whether RCMP outreach is undermining the country's national security situation. Those who care about Canada have reason to fear that misconceived approaches and incompetently-managed programs have contributed to the Islamist goal of legitimizing interests that seek, at a minimum, to encourage division and alienation within the Canadian body politic while reinforcing Islamist-supremacist and other sharia norms.
In light of the weaknesses of these RCMP Islamic initiatives, Canadians and their friends abroad would do well to press RCMP Commissioner William Elliott, Canadian Public Safety Minister Peter Van Loan, and Prime Minister Stephen Harper, to:
- trigger an audit and investigation of all past and present RCMP Islamic-related "outreach" activity.
- assess whether RCMP outreach involvement with radical groups and individuals has made the Force vulnerable to infiltration by such persons, and whether radical or Islamist-sympathetic individuals are, or have been, employed by the RCMP in outreach or other RCMP units, whether as regular Force or civilian personnel or as volunteers. This assessment must indicate the relevant chain of command at all times during the life of the outreach program, as well as those persons within the RCMP who recommended, approved and influenced the accepting of specific groups and individuals as outreach partners.
- evaluate whether "youth advisory" or other Muslim-dominated groups are gaining special RCMP access unavailable to other youth groups, including religion-privileged access, to recruitment opportunities, and fast-tracking into the RCMP. There must be no religion-based preferences in federal employment.
- disclose the identities of persons involved in any advisory capacity with RCMP outreach officials, so that the public can observe for itself the nature of related activity.
- undertake that any information formerly or currently provided to members of any consultative or advisory group simultaneously be made available for public scrutiny. This should enable citizens to satisfy themselves of the appropriateness of outreach participants and activity. Disclosure must include any studies and other material relating to national security and defense that is shared with community "advisors."
- shift the culture of "outreach" so that consultations with the RCMP are regarded within relevant RCMP units as the right of the general public, and not the result of possible "in-house," selective and privileged religious interests and lobbies operating in the shadows.
- undertake that the RCMP have no dealings with the Canadian or other affiliates of Islamic entities listed by the US Justice Department as unindicted co-conspirators in the recent Holy Land Foundation trial. This exclusion would be subject to the clearing of such entities through scrupulous investigation, and certification of clearing by the Commissioner of the RCMP and the Minister of Public Safety.
- ensure that neither the name of the RCMP nor of any other government agency be attached to outreach or other consultative bodies – such as the "RCMP Advisory Committee" – unless these bodies and their members be authorized to speak on behalf of the government. It is a failure of public administration and contrary to the rule of law to allow ad hoc, unauthorized, unaccountable groups to be perceived to have an inside track on the making of national security policy.
- end irresponsible RCMP reliance on unwarranted, alienating and dangerous Islamist "victimhood" narratives. Government must aggressively counter such disinformation with readily available evidence of Canada's exceptionally good treatment of Canadian Muslims in the face of extremist provocation. If RCMP outreach cadres continue to prove inadequate to the challenge – indeed, by negligence and lack of insight, continue to facilitate the spread of Islamist influence – the government must recognize that the RCMP's outreach program is operating against the national interest and must be shut down. Fast.
Winston Smithson is the pseudonym of a retired Canadian official.