The Ottawa Police Service, RCMP and CSIS personnel should be applauded for their vigilance, insight and courage for recently apprehending a group of alleged terrorists from amidst us. They are doing the heavy lifting to deter terrorism. As citizens of Ottawa we all have to do our part to help them.
Primarily, it must be the personal responsibility of each and every Muslim to eradicate the menace of religious radicalism from among us. This cannot be left to a collective -- the Muslim community.
The recent edicts opposing terrorism by the Council of Imams created hype for the media and in inter-faith circles but most Muslims have not even read them. The role and the office of the designated imams have been reduced to lead the daily prayers and to issue edicts only. The seeds of the homegrown radicalism are the numerous Islamic ideologues, activists and their self-serving organizations who have force-grafted themselves to the mosque to veil their political agendas. They are often well-funded, well-educated and well-organized. Thus they are better placed to deal with the politicians and the three levels of government in public. They have seized the real power behind the pulpit.
The mosque is a space to retreat to pray, to submit and prostrate to the Almighty. Just like Christian and Jewish faithful, the Muslims too want to hear messages of faith, love, morality, hope, charity, happiness and salvation. But instead, the mosques are hijacked by these ideologues and their entities that use the sacred space for social and political engineering to manipulate vulnerable Muslims to preach their divisive ideology and polarize them into "them and us." Girls as young as seven are pressured to be veiled, women are separated and silenced. There is no wonder the youth who become influenced by radicals on the Internet also find the mosque environment equally conducive.
If the Muslim youth are not lured in the mosques, these Islamicist organizations have set up clubs in the universities in the guise of student unions, women's and advocacy and community groups. They organize large conventions and invite fiery speakers from abroad to lecture with multi-media shows.
The law enforcement authorities, politicians and others may find it useful to dialogue with the so-called "leadership" for their own purposes, but they must engage individual Muslims, particularly young Muslims, on their own and treat them as they would any Canadians. When police engage youth through their self-serving leadership, the youth have no option but to submit and accept their strict dictates. This is neither fair for the youth nor their families who are left with no choices. They are at the mercy of this Muslim "leadership" through whom to access government, community associations, advocacy groups, politicians and public institutions.
Increasingly, these quasi political Islamic leaders pit "puritanical" Muslims against the less religious and secular Muslims, as well as against non-Muslim Canadians by demanding special accommodation of "Muslim rights," thus segregating Muslims from the rest of the society. Muslims are encouraged to file complaints with human rights tribunals, and pressure politicians to introduce Shariah laws.
Privately, they facilitate and perform polygamous and temporary (muta') marriages that wreak havoc in the lives of young women. They influence and convert unsuspecting youth from other faiths under their own distorted interpretation of the Koran. They quietly accept honour killings and then refuse burial of honour crime victims. Yet they remain blissfully irresponsible or accountable to anyone.
The leaders of these Islamic ideology advocacy groups and organizations must be honest and transparent with Muslims and all Canadians and not use the religion of Islam to mask their political and social objectives.
Given the current security situation in Canada, the burden must also be shared by politicians at all levels of the government, especially those overseeing immigration, refugee systems, border security and settlement agencies. They have a higher duty to safeguard Canada and Canadians.
Politicians can no longer afford to use the immigration and refugee streams to mine minority votes, nor should they lobby the "leadership" for the Muslim vote. They are aware that immigration to Canada is abused by radicals, usurpers and human smugglers. It is common knowledge; immigration to Canada from the Muslim countries is increasingly influenced and "managed" by radical groups in Pakistan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf countries. If affiliation to, or membership in, such groups is a pre-requisite for immigration to Canada, these immigrants are already conditioned before they come here.
The entrepreneurial immigration visa system is also abused by Saudi Arabia and Gulf countries to exile their retired expatriates whose work visas they do not want to renew. It is cheaper to finance their immigration to Canada where they become eligible for lifetime medical care at the cost of the Canadian taxpayer, and yet they remain loyal to their Arbab (sustainers) or Asyad (Lords) in their native countries.
Opposition and political parties in Canada have to tone down and offer a measured and reasoned opposition.
Is it possible that the anger and divisive rhetoric during the Afghan detainee debate may have fuelled and motivated the current alleged jihadis in Canada?
The media should be suspicious of those who rationalize terrorism due to foreign policies, wars, conflicts or poverty and other causes. Such rationalization and arguments encourage the jihadis. Ottawa Imam Khaled Abdul Hamid Syed, in his recent interview in the Citizen with Don Butler, refers to the jihadis as "strong on emotion and lack of knowledge." But they are aware that their cause will get media exposure through sympathetic editors and columnists and their "friends" will come to their rescue anyway. They have nothing to lose.
Lastly, the public and private charitable organizations, foundations and community groups must be aware of suspicious and unaccountable funding to their organizations. Universities and hospitals need to be aware of foreign funding and creating partnerships lest they are usurped by radical Islamist fronts.
Finally, we all need to practise the necessary patriotism to help our law enforcement agencies and make Canada safe and secure for all Canadians.
Awad Loubani is chairperson of the Equity and Diversity Advisory Committee -- City of Ottawa and member of the Ottawa Community and Police Action Committee.