Tahir Aslam Gora, a secular Canadian Muslim writer and journalist, founded the Canadian Thinkers’ Forum (CTF) as a Toronto base Think Tank. Gora is determined to curb Anti-Semitism in Islamic Centers of Canada with the help of over one hundred secular progressive Muslims and partner Muslim and Non-Muslim organizations and individuals.
Among its various activities, CTF aims to work at:
1. Study of growing Islamic radicalization in Canada, particularly in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA).
2. Introduce measures for the de-radicalization of Muslim Youths in Canada.
3. Introduce measures to curb Anti-Semitism within Canadian Muslim Diaspora.
The “Muslim Committee against Anti-Semitism (MCAAS)” was established under the umbrella of the Canadian Thinkers’ Forum. This committee plans to be a watchdog body on Anti-Semitic issues prevailing in Islamic Centers of GTA, Islamic ethnic press, and public spheres.
The committee recognizes a high degree of direct and indirect Anti-Semitism under the guise of phrases such as “Zionist Media”, “Zionist Plans” or “Israel – an apartheid State.”
Also there are numerous “Holocaust Denial Theories & Stories” in the media, speeches and talks. The committee intends to work with the Islamic Schools and Muslim ethnic media in order to eliminate such negative portraits.
The Committee will arrange seminars, conferences and study projects with Muslim Ethnic Press, Muslim Youth and Muslim Student organizations in terms of creating broader awareness for not using such phrases in negative tones and other negative connotations and direct or indirect Anti-Semitism.
Furthermore, the Muslim Committee against anti-Semitism intends to put together speakers from the Muslim, Christian and Jewish Diasporas in terms of finding the way to convince Islamic nations to recognize Israel’s rights to exist.
On March 10, 2013, the Canadian Thinkers’ Forum organized its first seminar in Mississauga Ontario on the question: Why is it in the interest of Muslims in Canada to recognize Israel’s rights to exist?
The event MC & board member Asma Mahmood said that in fact, peace in the Middle East is not in the interest of Islamic extremists there. If there would be a peace in the Middle East, they would not have any business there.” He expressed the importance of such seminars by stating that “unfortunately, we Muslims are taught hatred against Jews and Israel but we need to grow now and stop this non-sense.”
Tahir Aslam Gora is a Pakistani writer of fiction and non-fiction, poet, journalist, editor, translator (English to Urdu), and publisher, with over 25 years of experience in the media industry. He also works as a freelancer to various European and American media outlets. He is also a Secretary General of the Muslim Canadian Congress.
Gora was born in Kasur City, Punjab, Pakistan, in 1963 and studied at the Allama Iqbal Medical College, Lahore. He was active in several literary and cultural organizations in Pakistan and was a noted critic of religious intolerance in that country. He founded Gora Publishers in 1987 in Pakistan, which published more than 200 works of literature and books on the social sciences. He fled to Canada in the spring of 1999 following threats to his life.
Currently, he contributes regularly for the Huffington Post and he does a weekly Urdu language talk show “Bilatakalluf” on Mississauga based South Asian Rawal TV that could be viewed every Friday night at 9PM. He also started the radio program, Watan Radio, on 770AM in 2001.
Gora has published three collections of short stories, one novel, two collections of poems, two anthologies and one translation. Some of his work has been translated into Russian, Uzbek and English. His second novel in Urdu is in the process of publishing. He is currently at work on two manuscripts; one about Islam, the other titled “Understanding Canadian Multiculturalism.”
He has been a target of death threats by Islamic fundamentalists of Greater Toronto Areas.
What inspired Tahir Aslam Gora to become involved with issues of anti-Semitism and hostility to Israel was a meeting in October 2007 at a Toronto church to hear Palestinian Information Minister Dr. Mustafa Barghouti. The lecture was organized by the Coalition against Israeli Apartheid, and the whole purpose of Barghouti’s slide show was to prove Israel was an apartheid state.
After listening to Barghouti’s lecture, Gora started pondering: Can such extreme ideology help anyone find a peaceful solution for Palestinians? To him, it seemed certainly not.
The concept of Israel being an “apartheid state” is borrowed from South Africa’s former notorious regime. But is there any relation between Israel and South Africa’s institutionalized racism of separating black people from white South Africans? Making such a connection is merely an intellectual dishonesty and an attempt to distract the Palestinian mobs from on-the-ground realities.
While efforts continue to establish an independent Palestinian state and to find peace in the region, groups such as the Coalition against Israeli Apartheid are not playing a positive role. Israel is a purely democratic society, not an apartheid state.
Gora concluded that peace in the region would never happen without realistic efforts by Palestinian leaders and their supporters. First, they have to rule out any possibility of further violent attacks on Israel. Since Israelis have been targeted — killed and wounded — by suicide bombers from the Palestinian territories, they are not going to take the risk of attacks in their cities.
Moreover, the Arab world in general, and Islamic militant groups in particular, are fuelling the traditional hatred against Jews among Palestinian masses. Calling Israel an apartheid state is not a sincere effort to find a peace solution. If the Palestinian leadership were sincere, it would have recognized Israelis’ own need and desire for peace.
Instead of provoking violence in the region, Palestinian leaders could have settled issues with Israel. In return, an independent Palestine would by now have been prospering along with a progressing Israeli nation. And Palestinian leaders such as Mustafa Barghouti should focus their energies on finding a real way to peace rather than trying to establish a political base founded on hatred toward Israelis.
THURSDAY, 21 MARCH 2013 07:27