Posted by: Robert Sibley‘s Ideas & Consequences
I’m sure everyone knows the old saying, “There’s a sucker born every minute.” Well, the sentiment might make a worthy motto for the Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-CAN) in its attempts to stymie those who question extremist Islam.
CAIR-CAN, it appears, would like Canadians to believe it has discovered the virtues of tolerance, inclusiveness, diversity and, most marvelous of all, freedom of thought and speech. Nonetheless, the organization wanted the Ottawa Public Library to cancel a Monday night speech by British “mosquebuster” Gavin Boby, the founder of group devoted to “resisting the tide of Islam” in the United Kingdom. Boby uses legal processes and municipal bylaws to help Britons who don’t want mosques built in their neighbourhoods. He’s apparently been quite successful.
Naturally, CAIR-CAN objects to such ideas. What’s interesting, though, is how the organization presents its opposition. To be sure, it still tosses around words and phrases meant to shut down debate or intimidate those who challenge it; you know, words such as “Islamophobic” and “anti-Muslim hate-monger.” But in this particular case it is also casting itself in a politically correct mode.
CAIR-CAN says it recognizes Boby’s right to speak his mind, but is only opposed to his using a public, taxpayer-supported venue to give his speech.
“What we take issue with is the fact that he’s being afforded a subsidized venue as a soapbox for his message,” said CAIR-CAN executive director Ihsaan Gardee. “Canadian Muslims shouldn’t be asked to help foot the bill for somebody who is sending a message that basically denigrates them.
“We would be taking this exact same position if it was somebody coming to speak about preventing synagogues or gurdwaras being built.”
That’s rich. Such obfuscation. Such hypocrisy. Non-Muslim pay taxes, too. What if they want to hear the mosquebuster speech? CAIR-CAN doesn’t seem to recognize that free speech applies to all regardless of their taxing demographic.
Besides, perhaps CAIR-CAN officials have forgotten that they supported the Revising the Islamic Spirit convention in Toronto in December by denouncing commentators who referred to the conference as Islamist and accused non-Muslim speakers of implicitly lending support to Islamic radicalism. Such “Islamophobic vitriol aimed at marginalizing and vilifying Muslims,” the organization said.
That’s a debatable judgment, but thing I want to note is that the 2012 RIS convention was held at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, which, as far as I know,was funded in on fashion of another by taxpayers. Like I said, such hypocrisy.
But what I really admire about CAIR-CAN’s tactics is the rhetorical sleight-of-hand to cast itself as a champion of free speech. This just doesn’t mesh with its history.
Consider some background on CAIR-CAN, courtesy 2011 testimony by security analyst David Harris before the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology. Harris, director of the International and Terrorist Intelligence Program at INSIGNIS Strategic Research, has been honoured internationally for his work as a counterterrorism expert.
He pointed out to the Senators that CAIR-CAN is the Canadian wing of the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations, which has not only funded by Saudi Arabian sources, but has been named by the U.S. Justice Department as an unindicted co-conspirator connected to the “largest terror-funding trial in U.S. history, the Holy Land Foundation criminal prosecution.” He noted that the prosecution “achieved numerous convictions.”
Furthermore, CAIR-CAN, along with its parent organization, is named as a defendant in the New York City 9/11 lawsuit involving the family of John P. O’Neill, the FBI counterterrorism agent killed in the World Trade Centre attack on Sept. 11, 2001.
CAIR-CAN sometimes gives the appearance of takes its marching orders from its American parent, said Harris, pointing out that under its first chair, Sheema Khan, CAIR-CAN, like U.S. organization, launched various unsuccessful ‘libel lawfare’ suits against those who questioned the group’s activities or motives.
Specifically, Harris reminded the Senators of the “libel lawfare jihad” when CAIR and CAIR-CAN sued various Canadian and American journalists and commentators who questioned the history and agenda of the two affiliated groups. The intent of the lawsuits was “to silence questions about CAIR and CAIR-CAN,” Harris told the committee.
According to Harris, several of CAIR’s senior staff, as well as others connected to the organization, have been convicted and imprisoned for terrorism-related offences. American security experts have described the organization as “Hamas front group an a Muslim Brotherhood front organization.” (See attached articles below.)
Of course, Harris noted, CAIR-CAN associates have repeatedly asserted that their organization is independent of the American group, with its own board of directors and Canadian incorporation. This claim is was contradicted, however, by Sheema Khan who, in 2003, swore an affidavit for the Ontario Supreme Court in connection with a trademark dispute. In the affidavit Khan “states categorically that CAIR-CAN is under the direction and control of the American CAIR organization.” Moreover, Khan, while a senior official of CAIR-CAN, also served on the board of CAIR.
Some journalists have questioned CAIR-CAN’s affiliations, Harris noted, referring to a 2006 article by David Frum that pointed out that 70 per cent of CAIR-CAN revenues went to CAIR.
Muslims, too, have also questioned CAIR-CAN’s bona fides. Author Tarek Fatah, in a 2008 article in the Calgary Herald, observed that CAIR and CAIR-CAN “seem to sing from the same jihadi hymn book.”
Given this backstory, it is not unreasonable to question CAIR-CAN’s motives and agenda in wanting to block Boby’s speech. Certainly, you have to give the group credit for its politically correct chutzpah in trying to come across as ever so respectful of Western values. In raising the taxpayers-shouldn’t-have-to-pay argument, in contrast to the usual anti- anti-Muslim rhetoric, CAIR-CAN gives the appearance of being, well, Canadian. That said, the group’s efforts to block Boby’s speech, its willingness to play the Islamic victimhood card – “exaggerated claims of persecution of Muslims,” as Harris puts it — still smacks of indirect intimidation. And that’s unCanadian, and yet another attempt to play Canadians as suckers.
As of this writing, library officials have stood their ground against CAIR-CAN’s objections. Presumably, Ottawa police will show similar fortitude and be on hand to ensure there is no direct intimidation of those who want to hear Boby’s speech. They, too, are taxpayers and should be able to practise another long-entrenched Western principle that CAIR-CAN may not comprehend: Freedom of assembly.
If CAIR-CAN really wants to demonstrate its devotion to western values it should start criticizing Saudi Arabia for not allowing churches and synagogues in Mecca and Medina.