BY TAHIR ASLAM GORA
February 6th, 2014
CAIR — now known in Canada as National Council of Canadian Muslims — took umbrage that the PM’s spokesman mentioned their ties to Hamas that have been documented in court.
As the Secretary-General of the Coalition of Progressive Canadian Muslim Organizations, I am wondering why the fight between the Canadian Prime Minister and the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM), formerly known as the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)—Canada, is getting the attention of the media and our political parties.
The NCCM is demanding an apology from Prime Minister Stephen Harper over spokesman Jason MacDonald’s comment, “We will not take seriously criticism from an organization with documented ties to a terrorist organization such as Hamas.”
This came after the NCCM criticized Harper for taking Rabbi Daniel Korobkin with him on a recent visit to Israel. The NCCM objected to the inclusion of Rabbi Korobkin in his delegation because, in their words, “on September 17, 2013, Mr. Korobkin spoke at a Toronto event in which he introduced, defended and praised anti-Muslim campaigners Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer.”
I personally went to that September 17 event because I accept their right to free expression and wanted to understand their point-of-view. Both appeared to be very strong critics of Islam, but they were not hateful. They used the same Islamic texts that most Islamic organizations, even in the West, use to teach how to live in the 21st century.
Rabbi Daniel Korobkin delivered an introductory speech where he told the stories of three of his best Muslim friends. He simply talked about peace and harmony between various communities and the need for mutual, candid dialogue. But it clearly looks like groups such as NCCM do not believe in candid dialogue.
The NCCM is threatening to sue the Prime Minister’s office because of the spokesman’s remarks. I wonder how they would try to prove the remarks are false in court.
The NCCM announced on their website that, “As of July 6, 2013, CAIR.CAN will be known as the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM).”
CAIR, or the Council on American-Islamic Relations, has documented links to Hamas. In July 2009, U.S. District Court Judge Jorge Solis ruled that “The government has produced ample evidence to establish the associations of CAIR … with Hamas.”
Back on December 16, 2003, then-Board Chair of CAIR-CAN, Ms. Sheema Khan, filed anaffidavit in the Superior Court of Ontario in which she admitted that CAIR-CAN was under the direction and control of the CAIR in the U.S.
The NCCM is embarrassing Canadian Muslims by demanding an apology from the Prime Minister. Some media, civil liberty groups and even our opposition party, the New Democratic Party, are acting as if the NCCM represents all Canadian Muslims.
Andrew Cash, a NDP (opposition) member of parliament said in his statement:
“On behalf of the NDP and our leader Tom Mulcair, I would like to express serious concern regarding the comments made by the Prime Minister’s Office addressing the National Council of Canadian Muslims. Muslim Canadians have made innumerable contributions to Canada, enriching our collective cultural heritage and continuing to strengthen our society.”
Cash reacted as if Prime Minister criticized the entire Canadian Muslim community. He assumed that all Canadian Muslims are represented by the NCCM because of its name.
Actually, no Muslim organization in Canada or anywhere else in the world represents all Muslims because Muslims are very diverse with ethnicities, cultural backgrounds and sectarian beliefs. Even though the NCCM are Islamists, they don’t get along with some other Islamist organizations.
There are over 25,000 Ahmaddiya Muslims across Canada. They do not have representation in NCCM. They are not even recognized as Muslims by NCCM and are a target of hatred, even in Canada.
There are roughly over 200,000 Ismaili and Shia Muslims in Canada. There are close to a half-million Sufis. There are many Muslims who are progressive but silent. They are not represented by NCCM.
Even our Prime Minister has overlooked this reality. He should have included those Canadian Muslims who are fighting anti-Semitism in his delegation to Israel – there are plenty to choose from. There’s my group, the Coalition of Progressive Canadian Muslim Organizations. There’s the Council of Muslims Facing Tomorrow, the Progressive Muslim Institute Canada, Project Ijtihad, the Canadian Muslim Council for Interfaith Harmony, the Muslim Committee Against Anti-Semitism, and more.
Each of these groups represents different pockets of the diverse Muslims within Canada. That is part of the beauty of Canada.
Tahir Aslam Gora is the Secretary-General of the Coalition of Progressive Canadian Muslim Organizations, an author and journalist. His interview with the Clarion Project details his anti-Islamist activism