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Canadian Muslims: A Plea to West

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The weeding out of Islamism inside the West is the essential prerequisite in defeating the global jihad.

The arrests of Chiheb Esseghaier, a 30-year old Tunisian studying in Montreal, and Raed Jaser, a 35-year old Palestinian landed immigrant resident in Toronto, for plotting the terror attacks on Via Rail, were preceded by reports of two Canadians (Ali Medlej and Xristos Katsiroubas, a Muslim convert) involved in the terrorist attacks on an Algerian gas plant deep inside the Sahara desert on the Algeria-Libya border. The two were killed by security forces, while a third Canadian (Aaron Yoon, a Muslim convert) is being held in a Mauritanian prison as a suspected terrorist.

There was also report of a recent suicide bombing carried out in Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia, in which a Canadian (Mahad Ali Dhore) of Somali origin, and a former student at York University in Toronto, was identified as one of the suicide bombers.

These stories confirm the pattern of penetration by Islamists into the West for executing mass terror attacks, as were the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City, the Madrid train bombings in 2004 and the home grown Islamist terrorists attacks on the London public transit system in 2005.

There have also been failed plots, as in the case of the New York Times Square bombing attempt by Faisal Shahzad, an American resident of Pakistani origin, in May 2010, or the foiled plan of the Toronto 18 to carry out a series of mass terror attacks in southern Ontario in 2006.

Since 9/11 many Muslims around the world, including those who belong to Muslims Facing Tomorrow in Canada, have been warning our compatriots of the nature of Islamist threat worldwide, of the extent to which Islamism is a virulent ideology of warfare (jihad) and a radical reorientation of Muslim societies to comply with Sharia that repudiates modernity in all its form. This ideology has brought death and devastation within the Muslim and non-Muslim world.

The West needs to take seriously the war declared by Islamists against infidels, Zionists, Israelis and Muslims opposed to Islamism.

Islamism is an aberrant strain of Muslim thinking that can be traced back in Arab-Muslim history to the earliest years of Islam. Its defining characteristic is intolerance of others, including Muslims, and glorification of violence as a martyrdom exercise against all who disagree with Islamist rendition of Islam.

This aberrant thinking in pre-modern times was kept in check — with force when necessary — by Muslim rulers. But with the collapse of the Ottoman Empire in World War One, this ideology was espoused by a marginal sectarian movement inside Arabia when the Wahhabis (with the Saudi tribe at its head) captured power and established the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 1926.

The success of the House of Saud came about in part with the support of Britain (the great power with imperial interests in the region). Later, this desert monarchy was embraced by the United States.

Wahhabism is the foster-mother of modern day Islamism; the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is its citadel. Osama Bin Laden was a Saudi citizen, a multi-millionaire and a fanatic adherent of the Wahhabi creed.

The twentieth century founders of Islamist ideology were two Egyptians, Hasan al-Banna (1906-49) and Syed Qutb (1906-66), and the Indo-Pakistani Abul A’la Mawdudi (1903-79). Wahhabism was a small, thoroughly marginal and derided sect within the mainstream majority Sunni Muslim population until the House of Saud made it the dominant power-holder and expression of Islam by its control of the two holy cities of Mecca and Medina.

With the largesse of oil money at its disposal and the security arrangements provided to it by the Western powers, especially the United States, Wahhabism and the Islamist ideology of the three Sunni ideologues (al-Banna, Qutb and Mawdudi) were fused by Saudi petrodollars for export.

It is estimated that over $70 billion have been doled out by the Saudi government agencies and private citizens in funding mosque constructions across the Muslim world and in the West, and in financing Muslim organizations and youth clubs that spread Islamist ideology.

The result has been one of the most successful efforts to infect this virus within the Muslim world and beyond.

Muslim population of Arabic-speaking countries of the Middle East and North Africa together is less than a fifth of the global Muslim population, yet it is the Arab version of Islam, principally the Wahhabi Islam of Saudi Arabia that is the source of the rise of Islamism and the threat it poses to the West, while bringing ruin to Muslim societies.

Wahhabism also now dominates Sunni Islam, in general, through funding of leading Sunni institutions (Al-Azhar University in Cairo) and political movements (the Muslim Brotherhood, founded by al-Banna, and Jamaat-i-Islami founded by Mawdudi).

Petrodollars now spread Wahhabism in South Asia, Central Asia, the Caucasus (Chechnya), the Balkans (Bosnia and Kosovo), Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines. And, its most fanatical face can be found in the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

In the Middle East the rivalry between Wahhabism and Khomeinism is represented by the competing interests and hostilities of the Sunni powers, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf emirates, on the one side, and Iran with its Syrian  Alawite allies as well as the Lebanese Shi’i supporters of Hezbollah.

The Shi’ite version of Islamism is Khomeinism, the ruling ideology of the Islamic Republic of Iran since 1979. (Islam has been historically divided between the majority Sunni Muslims and the minority Shi’i Muslims, who are estimated to be less than 15 percent of the world’s 1.6 billion Muslim population.)

It is this rivalry in part that finds expression in the virulence against Israel and support for Palestinian extremist and radical politics emanating out of Tehran and the capitals of the Sunni Muslim states in the region.

It was inevitable that the upheaval inside the Muslim world would spill over into the West and elsewhere. The attack upon New York City in 2001 should have been a wake-up call for the West to take appropriate measures to nip the threat of Islamist terror.

The recent events relating to “home grown” Islamist terror are indicative of the extent to which the United States and Canada have underrated Islamism as war against the West.

As Muslims in Canada, we have repeatedly called upon our fellow Muslims to publicly disavow all relationships with Islamists and Islamism, to repudiate unconditionally the aberrant thinking and teachings of Wahhabism (and its related schools among Sunni Muslims) and Khomeinism and to cooperate — without any hesitation — with law enforcement and security agencies of our home country, Canada.

But our voice will not carry weight unless and until our government, our political parties and politicians at all levels of government — federal, provincial and municipal — take seriously the Islamist threat and denounce Islamism without any inhibition or equivocation.

We cannot any longer afford to allow our mainstream media, our educational institutions and our civil society associations to wallow in political correctness and, intentionally or not, give cover to the Islamists in our midst through public relation exercises, such as inter-faith dialogue.

As Muslims we understand much more than anyone else how multiculturalism has become a cover for Islamist penetration of the West. As Muslims, we have the inside knowledge of the extent to which Wahhabi teachings and Islamism have together undermined what was once a rich and tolerant culture within Islam.We recognize that after decades of Wahhabi subversion, this sounds apologetic and quaint.

Moreover, as Muslims, we found ourselves accepted in the West with immense generosity, kindness and without any discrimination by the majority of the population. Many of us carry deep physical and psychological wounds of bigotry and violence directed against us as Muslims by other Muslims driven to fanaticism by Wahhabi and Islamist teachings. As survivors of Muslim violence against Muslims, our gratitude in finding refuge and a new home in Canada and elsewhere in the West is immeasurable.

Our concern about the West’s security from Islamist threats is derived from experience. We, therefore, as Muslims urge the authorities in Canada, in the United States and in Europe, to take robust measures against those who have declared war against the West and those who directly or indirectly assist this warfare.

Only when it becomes certain that the West will not any longer tolerate the preaching and practice of Islamism will we witness increasing numbers of Muslims stepping forward publicly to repudiate those imams and religious leaders in our mosques and mosque-related institutions who have been instrumental in pushing Islamism among Muslim youth and radicalizing them for jihad or mass terrorist operations.

Sadly, although it is human nature, fear is an intangible reality that is holding the majority of Muslims in the West back instead of taking responsibility to spear-head the drive to defeat Islamism.

But this fear is also grounded upon the undeniable fact that the West has long embraced Saudi Arabia, continues to cultivate links with countries such as Egypt and Pakistan that are hotbeds of Islamism and has not shown the determination to contain and defeat Islamism as it once did in bringing about the defeat of Communism.

Finally, as Muslims in the West, we want to advise our compatriots that the Muslim world is presently in an upheaval of historic proportion, as Europe once was as Christendom was in the transition from the pre-modern to the modern world of liberal and secular values.

The internal struggle among Muslims will likely continue over several generations as the Muslim world painfully makes its transition. But the support of the West can be decisive in hastening this transition, and this can only occur when the Western public understands what is at stake and how it can make a positive difference.

The weeding out of Islamism and the Islamist threat lodged inside the West is the essential prerequisite – or first step — in defeating the global warfare or jihad of Islamists and in helping the Muslim world reconcile itself with modern values of science, democracy and human rights.

Raheel Raza is President and Salim Mansur is Vice President of the Council of Muslims Facing Tomorrow, Canada.

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