“Mr. Gardee does not speak for any Muslim in this country. But he speaks for every Islamist in this country. You have to make the distinction. A Muslim is someone who practices his faith. An Islamist is someone uses the faith to practice fascist politics.”
January 30, 2014
The Ottawa Citizen
Ihsaan Gardee, executive director of the organization once known as CAIR-CAN, gained himself a convenient platform earlier this week to promote his organization’s latest “lawfare jihad.”
The organization once known as the Council on American Islamic Relations (Canada) is desperately trying to rebrand itself. In July, group’s leaders renamed their group as the National Council of Canadian Muslims. The idea, of course, is to get away from CAIR-CAN’s tarnished reputation, at least in the minds of some critics, as a hideout for closet Islamists.
Is it working? Not judging by the NCCM’s latest antics, which, to my mind, demonstrate that what we’re getting is the same old halal wine in a relabeled bottle. The organization wants a “full-throated apology and retraction,” NCCM’s executive director Ihsaan Gardee told Evan Solomon on CBC’s News Network’s Power and Politics show.
Why? Because the prime minister’s spokesman, Jason MacDonald, dared to dismiss the objections of the organization once known as CAIR-CAN to Stephen Harper taking a rabbi it didn’t like along on this recent trip to the Middle East. “We will not take seriously criticism from an organization with documented ties to a terrorist organization such as Hamas,” MacDonald said.
Did that ever tick off Gardee’s group, as I related in a previous posting. To say that our organization has illegal affiliations is deeply offensive to us and to Canadians of all faiths and backgrounds and only serves to reinforce ugly stereotypes about Canadian Muslims,” Gardee said this week in announcing the lawsuit threat.
Gardee continued with that line on Solomon’s show. To be sure, despite Solomon pressing him on the point, Gardee avoided saying definitely that the organization formerly known as CAIR-CAN would definitely proceed with a lawsuit if it didn’t get a definitive apology. Instead, he repeatedly insisted the “real issue” was that the prime minister’s nasty bit of stereotyping that “tars” all Canadian Muslims.
Is that true? Do “all” Canadian Muslims feel they’ve been tarred by MacDonald’s statement? On that question I turned to Tarek Fatah, the one-time founder of the Muslim Canadian Congress and a prominent commentator on Muslim affairs in Canada.
“Mr. Gardee doesn’t speak for me,” Fatah says in a brief interview. Indeed, he maintains that Gardee and the NCCM don’t speak for any Muslims at all. Rather, he and his group represent the Islamists, those who are bent on the destruction of western liberal society even as they espouse liberal principles.
“Mr. Gardee does not speak for any Muslim in this country. But he speaks for every Islamist in this country. You have to make the distinction.
“A Muslim is someone who practices his faith. An Islamist is someone uses the faith to practice fascist politics.”
The NCCM, says Fatah, thinks it can scare people into silence, and what they don’t realize is that such tactics are backfiring.
Canadians are increasingly fed up with religious fundamentalist, he suggests, pointing to Quebec where the Parti Quebecois’ head-scarf banning Charter enjoys considerable popularity among the francophone majority despite the hue and cry of the intelligentsia in the province and the denunciations of the politically corrected social engineering elites that dominate public discourse in English-speaking Canada. (Mark Steyn has a stinging piece on this issue.)
Nonetheless, Fatah suspects that what’s happening in Quebec will eventually come to pass in the rest of Canada. “If you see what’s happening in Quebec you’ll get a sense of what’s happening in the rest of Canada. People, polite, decent folks, are more and more unwilling to put up with this kind of thing (the NCCM’s threats, that is), and they will show it at the polling booth. That’s why the PQ is doing so well in Quebec. It is the only political party in Canada standing up to these Islamists.
“Sooner or later Canadians are going to say enough is enough. You can’t go around telling the prime minister who he or she can take on a visit and then threaten to sue them.”
As for that would-be lawsuit, “Of course, they are bluffing. But these are arrogant people. They genuinely believe there is an international jihad in which God is on their side. The CBCS of this world don’t see this because they can’t understand the state of mind of these jihadis. It’s may be a farce from our perspective, but from the jihadi perspective there is an international jihad against the West.”
This isn’t the first time Fatah and Gardee have been at opposite ends of the Muslim-Islamist spectrum.
In 2007, Fatah published an article suggesting that CBC’s little melodrama Little Mosque on the Prairie betrayed “as Islamist agenda” that was using comedy ‘to lull mainstream Canadians into believing all-is-well in Canada’s Muslim communities, despite evidence of a rise in extremism among Muslim youth. For example, Little Mosque made no reference to “the hijacking of . . . Islam by politicized clerics affiliated with Saudi Arabia or Iran.”
Gardee responded dismissively, saying that “Fatah’s diatribe seems to focus more on his own fears and insecurities–seeing Islamists lurking around every corner and hiding in every shadow–while mudslinging at highly respected grassroots organizations.”
He went on to insist: “For the record, CAIR-CAN is an organization whose vision is to be a leading voice that enriches Canadian society through Muslim civic engagement (such as this project) and the promotion of human rights. Formed as a sister organization of the U. S.-based CAIR, the two remain completely distinct and autonomous operationally while co-operating on issues of mutual concern and sharing best practices.”
Gardee repeated that line with Solomon, claiming there were no “funding” or “operational” relationships between the NCCM (or CAIR-CAN) and CAIR in the United Sates, that the two groups were “separate and distinct.”
Fatah finds that a laughable claim considering that CAIR-CAN was little more than a branch plant of the American organization, which, he rightly noted, has been funded by Saudi Arabian and other Middle East sources, and has been named by the U.S. Justice Department as an unindicted co-conspirator connected to a massive terror-funding trial the United States, the Holy Land Foundation criminal prosecution.
Fatah has some support on this point. Steven Emerson, the founder of the highly respected Investigative Project on Terrorism, produced a report noting the ties between the two groups. “While CAIR has 32 regional chapters across the United States and Canada, its headquarters exercises much control over the agenda and operations of the regional offices.
In one public example of the ties between CAIR National and a regional office, in a sworn affidavit of former CAIR-Canada director Sheema Khan, she states that ‘In 1996 a Canadian chapter of CAIR UNITED STATES was established in Montreal. The purpose of the chapter was to promote CAIR UNITED STATES awareness in Montreal. One of the means of promoting awareness was through the distribution in Canada of CAIR UNITED STATES’ newsletters, publicity kits, brochures and handbooks. CAIR UNITED STATES had direct control over the character and quality of the activities of the Canadian chapter in Montreal.’”
Fatah dismissed Gardee’s claim that the relationship between CAIR and CAIR-CAN (or NCCM) is like that between Pepsi and Coca-Cola. “Nothing can be further from the truth,” said Fatah. “Pepsi and Coke are competing products, adversaries. His comparison that CAIR-CAN and CAIR are like Pepsi and Coca-Cola just reflects the demented state of these Islamist apologists.”
So, who do you believe in this debate?
Perhaps Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird offered right advice when, in responding to a question from Solomon, he said Canadians should do the necessary research on the NCCM’s background and make up their own minds. “I’d encourage any Canadian to Google the group in question, and do some research on their own and come to their own conclusions.”