By Sara Akrami, (President of Human Rights Activists Association at York University) and Adir Dishy(Former President of Hasbara Fellowship at York University)
For years, Islamic extremists and radicals have endangered the safety of various countries of the world, specifically in the Middle East, but also in European and North American countries. Through terrorist activities and inhumane practices, Islamic extremists have created numerous victims in their own Islamic countries, as well as in the countries to which they have migrated. Among other factors, the lax immigration laws, especially in Canada, have enabled the spread of terrorist activity. Canada has not faced a deadly terrorist attack yet; however, terrorist attacks have already been planned for Canada and prevented by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service. It is only a matter of time before the CSIS (Canadian Security Intelligence Service) is unable to prevent another attack from happening.
On June 2, 2006, 18 Al Qaeda members plotted a series of terrorist activities in one of the more prominent provinces of Canada: Ontario. This case is known as the 2006 Ontario Terrorism Case or the “Toronto 18.” The terrorists planned to detonate truck bombs and to fire in crowded areas. In addition, they aimed to storm the Canadian Broadcasting Centre, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, the Canadian Parliament building, and the Parliamentary Peace Tower. One of the major reasons that the terrorists had the Canadian Parliament in their agenda was that they planned to behead Prime Minister Stephen Harper and other Canadian officials. Some of the suspects of the Toronto 18 Case were Qayyum Abdul Jamal, Shareef Abdelhaleem, Steven Vikash Chand, Jahmaal James, Fahim Ahmad, Asad Ansari, Ahmad Mustafa Ghany, Zakaria Amara, and Saad Khalid. Aside from Steven Vikash Chand, who recently converted to Islam, the rest of the terrorists came from countries such as Pakistan and Egypt. They were also active members in some of the Islamic centers of Toronto, such as the Al Rahman Islamic Centre.
As student activists, we have experienced several incidents that have brought the reality of radical Islam and the teachings of jihad close to home. For example, on the York University campus, there are numerous Muslim students who show a tremendous amount of hatred toward Jews and deny the Holocaust and the right of Israel to exist. Some have openly said that Christians should hate Jews because they crucified Jesus. Many of these students were raised in Arab-Muslim countries, whose state-maintained media is horrifically anti-Semitic. More disturbing is that these students are seemingly sincere in their beliefs. They honestly and wholeheartedly believe that the Holocaust was made up by Jews to garner sympathy for one thing or another.
This past March, during Islamic Awareness Week at York, a Muslim student said that instead of the Christians United for Israel organization, there should be a Christians United for Sharia (Islamic) law organization. He was also a firm supporter of jihad against all infidels, and was proudly boasting about his belief in Sharia law and that Muslims would succeed in bringing it to North America. He specified his belief in jihad against Jews and anyone who did not believe in Islam. He also asserted that moderate Muslims were not true Muslims. When this man was asked for his name and an email address to continue the conversation privately, he refused to give any contact information. Later, it was found out that he was not a student at York, but rather came with a group of other men from a mosque in Toronto to preach their radical ideology to as many students as possible.
Proselytizing radical Islamist ideology is quite common in Toronto. On the streets of downtown Toronto, there are always numerous individuals from various Islamic centers who distribute free Qur’ans and promote jihad. When we spoke to some of them and asked their opinion about non-Muslims, they replied with: “Non-Muslims are dirty! Either they have to convert to Islam or they must get killed because when a non-Muslim get killed, Allah becomes happy.” They also added that “one day Islam will take over the world and the flag of Islam will wave everywhere, even on White House.”
Another concerning issue is the increase in the number of Islamic schools around Canada, especially in Toronto. Some of the practices that are being taught in these schools are completely against Canadian norms and contribute to radicalization of young children. For instance, in some schools, girls and boys are segregated based on their sex. Also, when it comes to prayer time, in some Islamic schools, girls have to pray behind boys. Aside from that, some of the hate teachings in these schools toward other religions and critics of Islam will inevitably lead students to the idea of violent jihad. This issue has already occurred in King Fahad Academy, an Islamic school in the United Kingdom. The nature of the Arabic textbooks that are being used in King Fahad Academy are extremely racist. For example, various textbooks include the following verse from the Qur’an: “They are the Jewish observers of Saturdays whose youth God transformed into monkeys and their elders into pigs as their punishment.” The author of the textbook explains that “the monkeys are the Jews and the pigs are the Christian infidels at Jesus’ table.”
The case of Theo Van Gogh, the Dutch filmmaker and director of the movie “Submission,” which criticized the treatment of women in Islam, serves as an ominous warning for those who do not take seriously the threat of radicalization in the West. In an interview with Theo Van Gogh, the reporter asked him, “Don’t you think that someday there will be an idiot who wants to kill you?” He responded, “No, I can’t imagine that.” The reporter continued to ask, “So you believe in the goodness of man?” Van Gogh replied, “No, not in the goodness of man but in my own arrogance that has so much affect that a bullet will not come for me.” When Theo Van Gogh was murdered by Mohammad Bouyeri, a Dutch-Moroccan Muslim on November 2, 2004, Mohammad Bouyeri stated that “if I had the opportunity to get out of prison and I had the opportunity to do what I did on November 2nd, I would have done exactly the same.” In addition, many other brave individuals who criticize Islam, such as Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Greet Wilders, and Salman Rushdi, have been threatened by Islamic extremists.
Some extremist Islamic practices have been seen here in Canada. One example is Aqsa Parvez’s case, a 16-year-old Pakistani-Canadian girl who became the victim of honor killing. Her refusal to wear the hijab caused her brother to assist her father in her murder, because they believed had brought dishonor to their family.
Even recently, the Canadian police service has arrested one of the leaders of the Baitul Mukarram Islamic Society in Toronto. Mohammad Masroor, 48, is charged with a series of sexual assaults. He is currently facing 13 charges, but the police believe there are other victims as well. The victims of the sexual assaults are both female and male.
Without adequate recognition, the growth of radical Islam in Canada, an ideology that is behind the majority of the terrorist activities around the world and promotes intolerance for everything non-Muslim, will put the safety of Canada in danger. It is time Canada takes this trend seriously, before more victims are needlessly added to the list.
Founder and President of the Human Rights Activists Association at