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In other words: let’s pretend this is just another murder. Let’s pretend it’s not a lesson in the terrifying power of Islamic ideology – its ability to trump with ease that supposedly most powerful of emotions, parental love. Let’s pretend that cases like this don’t represent a warning to civilized democratic countries that we’ve allowed into our midst a way of thinking that’s as potentially deadly as any poison.
Then, of course, there’s the inevitable hand-wringing over anti-Muslim “backlash.” Michelle McQuigge provided a fine example of this in a whiplash-inducing article headlined “Shafia murder trial casts shadow over Canada’s Islamic community.” Muslims, she wrote, “blanch at the term ‘honour killing,’ believing it to be a misrepresentation of the faith they practice.” She then admitted that there is a serious problem with “honour-based violence” in the Muslim community. But having acknowledged this, she immediately assured readers that “the call for gender equality” is “at the heart of” Islam,” that “’honour killings’ are explicitly condemned in the Qur’an,” and that such actions are the result of misinterpretation of scripture by uneducated people from rural parts of the Muslim world.
Who was her authority for these claims? None other than Imam Syed Soharwardy of the Islamic Supreme Council of Canada, whom McQuigge quoted at length. Apparently embracing Soharwardy’s spin on the Kingston killings, McQuigge characterized them as “[t]he actions of one misguided family” who “single-handedly revived stereotypes of violence and intolerance that have dogged the [Muslim] community since 911.” And she conveyed, without any hint of disagreement, Soharwardy’s claim that domestic violence isn’t a widespread problem in the Muslim community and his lament that an event like the Kingston murders “provides opportunities to Islamophobes to reignite hate against Muslims and badmouth our religion.”
Throughout her article, McQuigge presented Soharwardy as an implicitly educated, sophisticated, benign, modern guy – a Muslim believer, in short, whose understanding of Islam is the very antithesis of Shafia’s. Apparently McQuigge didn’t care to remind her readers that when the Danish Muhammed cartoons were reprinted in the Canadian magazine the Western Standard, it was Soharwardy who called the cops and insisted they arrest its editor, Ezra Levant. When they refused, it was Soharwardy who hauled Levant before the Alberta Human Rights Commission and ended up costing him over $100,000 in expenses. Nor does McQuigge care to mention (or does she not even know?) that Soharwardy – for all his efforts to leave the impression that he (and most other Canadian Muslims) take a less literal, more Westernized approach to the Koran than Shafia does – is on the record as insisting that sharia law is “universal” and “divine” and “cannot be customized for specific countries.”
Indeed, gratifying though the Kingston verdict is, there would appear to be a general reluctance in the Canadian media to recognize its larger lessons. Yes, there’s been plenty of talk about the need for Canadians to stand up to “patriarchal” conduct and to “culture-based” violence and misogyny in “immigrant communities.” But in these disquisitions the word “Islam” is often conspicuous by its absence – except, of course, when commentators make a point of insisting that these atrocities have nothing do with “true Islam.”
Only the gutsiest of Canadian columnists seem willing to draw a clear line between these murders and their explicit ideological roots in sharia law. Which is a terrible pity – for if there’s any plus side to the cold-blooded executions of Rona Amir Mohammed and Zainab, Sahar, and Geeti Shafia, it’s that, if properly understood, they provide a blindingly clear lesson in the difference between the pretty multicultural lies about Islam and the grim, intractable truth.
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