Thursday February 09, 2017
The outpouring of sympathy from Canadians for their Muslim neighbors following the terrorist attack on a Quebec City mosque on January 29 has been absolutely stunning. Total strangers have reached out to members of the Muslim community all across Canada to offer condolences and support. This must be unique among people of different faiths across the globe.
In the aftermath of the attack there has also been vigorous debate about the reasons behind the attack. How could this happen in Canada, supposedly this oasis of peace, tranquillity and multiculturalism, many have asked. January 29 has become a wakeup call for Canadians, especially the federal and provincial governments as well as the security agencies.
It should not have been since the far right extremists were on the radar screen and known to intelligence agencies for many years. Successive governments, however, turned a blind eye to the real threat they posed because they were all fixated on the supposed threat from Muslims. Will this tragedy change anything or after a few days of uttering meaningless platitudes, the issue will be shoved down memory’s black hole?
It is interesting to note that whenever radicalization has been mentioned in the Canadian context, it has referred only to Muslims. In fact it has become a global phenomenon. This line of thinking assumes that only Muslims are prone to radicalization. There must be something in their genes that forces them toward extremism or that there is something inherently wrong with Islam.
Unfortunately a number of so-called experts have sprung up in the West prattling on television about radicalization and the threat from terrorism. Since such talks fits into the policy perspectives of the warlords in Western capitals—the neo-cons in Washington and their fellow travelers in Nato—this narrative has been given ample airtime. And then there are the opportunist Muslims—the ‘House negroes’, in the celebrated words of the martyr, Malcolm X—that would do anything to ingratiate themselves to their white masters. These bootlickers have added their own spice to the supposed threat from ‘radicalized Muslim youth’ to the peaceful of life in the West.
It is interesting to note that whenever radicalization has been mentioned in the Canadian context, it has referred only to Muslims. In fact it has become a global phenomenon.
Several Western governments, including that of Canada, have instituted de-radicalization programs for Muslim youth. A number of Imams in Canada have jumped on the bandwagon offering their services! How many youth they have de-radicalized is not difficult to guess: zero. We say this because according to Canadian security agencies, there are very few radicalized Muslim youth. In the entire province of Quebec with a population of 10 million or more, there are no more than a handful of ‘radical Muslim youth.’ This is not the impression one would get from media accounts though.
In fact, no Muslim has killed anyone in Canada despite the media hype. The only exceptions are the two converts—Martin Couture-Rouleau and Michael Zehaf Bibeau—both from the province of Quebec that were involved in killings on October 21 and October 24, 2014 in Montreal and Ottawa respectively. Couture-Rouleau was on the RCMP radar and his passport had been seized along with some 90 other suspected extremists. He was also under surveillance yet he managed to drive his vehicle into two soldiers after waiting for them in a parking lot for two hours! He was shot and killed.
Bibeau was a drifter. He was thrown out of a mosque in Vancouver, British Columbia when he was heard uttering threats. He moved to Ottawa and was living in a shelter for homeless people in the federal capital. It has still not been explained how he obtained a high velocity rifle with which he shot and killed Corporal Nathan Cirillo standing guard, unarmed, at the Soldiers’ Memorial outside the Parliament Building in Ottawa. Bibeau then ran across the lawn outside the Parliament Building with a rifle in hand and entered the building while there were guards.
He was shot and killed only inside the building. Why he was not incapacitated and arrested to find out the truth? He was known to be mentally unstable. Had he survived, this fact would have become widely known.
But the former prime minister, Stephen Harper, a well known Islamophobe who has done great damage to the Canadian social fabric, jumped on these two killings to ram through parliament Bill C-51 whose provisions specifically target Muslims. Mercifully, Harper was booted out of office in October 2015 but in his 10 years in office, he had caused enough damage whose ramifications were felt by innocent Muslims at prayer in Quebec City Mosque on the night of January 29.
A host of politicians in Quebec also contributed to the anti-Islamic campaign. For them, Muslim women in hijab or niqab were a threat to their way of life. The Parti Quebecoise, the separatist party, as well as the Quebec liberals added their poison against Muslims seeing them as ‘enemies’ while white supremacist groups flourished right under their noses.
There are “more than 100 right-wing groups throughout Canada,” according to Caroline Biotteau of the group, Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (January 31, 2017), most of them in the province of Quebec.
Unfortunately, Canadian academics have also generally ignored the rise of white supremacist groups. Among the few exceptions are James Ellis and Richard Parent, of the Canadian Network for Research on Terrorism, Security and Society. They had warned that Canada was not immune to the rise of far right extremism and it was a mistake to assume that such extremism was confined to Europe or to groups south of the border. They warned of the potential risk for far greater acts of violence from white supremacist groups whose horrific consequences were witnessed on that fateful night of January 29 in Quebec City.
A number of right wing extremist groups can be easily identified. These are the Aryan Guard, Blood and Honour and the Neo-Nazis as well as their Jewish counterpart, the Jewish Defence [Offense] League (JDL). This Zionist group that follows the racist ideology of Kahane Chai, a group banned in Israel, and the JDL that is banned in the US, continues to operate freely in Canada and is even patronized by some politicians. A member of the JDL had accompanied Harper on his trip to Israel.
Now a new group La Meute, “The Wolf Pack”, has emerged in Quebec. The group propagates such nonsense as the invasion of pro-Sharia Islamic radicals that pose an imminent threat to Quebec society. It would be wrong to assume that only this group, that attracted more than 43,000 new social media followers in just over a year, is pushing an Islamophobic agenda. Quebec politicians and French Canadians in general seem to be suffering from an inferiority complex for which they demand a price in blood from Muslims.
Even while some security agencies have pointed to the danger from these right-wing terrorist groups, politicians have turned a blind eye. In the Canadian parliament, there are many committees studying these phenomena.
In one such report in 2015, Sylvain Guertin from the Sûreté du Québec’s [Quebec Police] Division of Investigation on Extremist Threats for the Standing Senate on National Security and Defence, stated: “The majority of the service’s active files deal with the extreme right and, for 25 per cent of the files, with hate crimes”. The same report also attributed slightly less than 25 percent of the active files to Islamic radicalization (italics added).
Given such overwhelming data about white extremist groups, why some politicians and the media’s lurid fixation on Muslim extremist violence? The answer lies in the endless wars that the US and its Nato allies are waging against Muslims in other lands. Since Canada is a member of Nato, it also perpetrates these myths. If Muslims over there are ‘bad’, Muslims over here must also be ‘bad’. Without this policy of demonization, the wars of aggression cannot be successfully sold at home.
There is no better way to describe Western hypocrisy but unfortunately, innocent Muslims have had to pay a steep price!