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October 30, 2011

Re: Taking a closer look at Islam, Barbara Kay

Stephen McClatchie

I was disappointed to read Barbara Kay’s column (in the National Post) about the appointment of Ingrid Mattson as the inaugural London and Windsor community chair in Islamic Studies at Huron University College.

I was dismayed that Ms. Kay based her central argument on the alleged experience of one student. To assert that this student’s experience was representative of the thousands taught by Ms. Mattson is absurd. Moreover, using it as the basis to support further criticism of Ms. Mattson underscores the weak basis on which her opinion is founded.

In her spurious linking of the Islamic Society of North America and, by association, Ms. Mattson to terrorism, Ms. Kay fails to mention that Ms. Mattson was an advisor to both the Bush and Obama administrations and spoke at President Barack Obama’s inaugural prayer service. As John Brennan, the U.S. Advisor for Homeland Security noted, Ms. Mattson, is “a voice for tolerance and diversity” on whom he has relied on her for advice.

Ms. Kay also incorrectly asserts that Ms. Mattson supports Wahhabism. When she discusses Wahhabism, Ms. Mattson does so as an academic and a scholar of religion. She has preached in synagogues and churches across North America and has been the female leader of an Islamic organization — two things a Wahhabi could never support.

Finally, with respect to Ms. Mattson’s alleged support of Maulana Abul A’la Maududi: If Ms. Kay had taken the time to read Ms. Mattson’s book on the Koran, she would know that Ms. Mattson finds his Koran commentary troubling in a number of respects and does not recommend it.

Stephen McClatchie, principal, Huron University College, London, Ont.

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