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September 7, 2010

Former CSIS director is wrong

Scott Stockdale

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Ottawa blogger Yahya Abdul Rahman is disputing former CSIS Director Reid Morden's assertion that mosques in Canada are stoking extremism, leading some members to plan to commit violent acts.

In an August 28 article in the Ottawa Citizen entitled “How Terror came home to Roost”, former CSIS Director Reid Morden expresses concern over what he considers to be fundamentalist views being expressed in newly-established Canadian mosques.

"Given the very substantial number of mosques, representing a growing and numerous community, one shouldn't be surprised that every once in a while someone really steps over the line between words and actually doing something about it," Mr. Morden said.

However, Mr. Rahman explained that Islamic fundamentalist views have nothing to do with terrorism.

“I would be interested to know what Mr. Morden means by 'fundamentalist views.' If he means adhering to the fundamentals of Islam, such as Islam's five pillars and the six articles of faith, then this is something we as Muslims cannot compromise on as they are central to our belief system. Furthermore, they are nothing to be cause of concern over as holding and adhering to such beliefs do not constitute a threat to society.”

Although Mr. Morden suggests that words spoken in mosques in Canada may lead some to commit or plan to commit violent acts, Mr. Rahman said he has been attending Friday prayers at various mosques in the Ottawa area and throughout Canada, for close to two decades; and he's never listened to a Friday sermon that called upon people to commit a violent act. In fact, he said the opposite is true.

“Muslims are instructed over and over again, as part of the fundamental principles of their faith, to respect the sanctity of life, and strive to maintain the peace and security of the society in which we live. To do otherwise is to behave against the dictates of Islam, as well as common human decency. If there have been Muslims who have committed violent acts, they did not learn to do so from the Mosque, but are acting on their own distorted understanding. It does not necessarily mean that just because a Muslim commits a violent act, that he or she is inspired to do so by Islam. In fact I argue that Islam inspires one to peace, not violence,” Mr. Rahman said.

Indeed, it appears that the right-wing Rand Corporation in the U.S. actually agrees with many of Mr. Rahman's statements.

A report by the Rand Corporation, presented to the U.S. House Homeland Security Committee in May 2010, reveals that it is not the call to religion so much as the call to action that attracts the homegrown terrorist.

“Few jihadists appear to have more than a superficial knowledge of Islam,” the report concluded. “Jihadists often use the need to avenge perceived assaults on Islam – insults to the religion, atrocities inflicted upon its believers, aggression by infidels against its territories and people, anger at specific U.S. policies – to justify their actions. These certainly are jihadist recruiting themes, but volunteer terrorists also view jihad as an opportunity for adventure, a chance to gain status in a subculture that exalts violence, to overcome perceived personal humiliation and prove manliness, to demonstrate prowess, to be perceived as a warrior in an epic struggle.”

Meanwhile, Mr. Rahman said when public officials such as Mr. Morden make public statements suggesting that some mosques are inciting violence in Canada; they're putting the whole community under a further cloud of suspicion.

“We are the new bogeymen. We are the ones to fear and dread. We are the dangerous fifth column that must be constantly monitored. We are not to be trusted no matter how well we integrate into the wider society, no matter how many contributions we make toward its well-being, or how many public statements we make against radicalization and terrorism. No matter what we do, we are guilty by virtue of the fact that we are Muslim; and we are totally susceptible to extremist views.”

Moreover, Mr. Rahman said he challenges Mr. Morden to attend Friday prayers – as they are always open to the public - and see for himself what is being taught from the pulpit.

“I'm sure he will be pleasantly surprised,” Mr. Rahman said.

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