The Chair of Islamic History Month Canada is no exemplar of tolerance.
Last week I called Manitoba’s announcement of Islamic History Month “an extraordinary act of dhimmitude.”
Of course, that’s not what the Chairwoman of Islamic History Month Canada, Shahina Siddiqui, calls it. She says that it is an opportunity for Muslims to “celebrate, inform, educate and share with fellow Canadians the Muslim cultural heritage” in order to “help build a more inclusive, compassionate and multicultural Canada.”
Let’s put aside the fact that for some Canadians, the Muslim cultural heritage, with its appalling record of violence, hatred, bigotry, and barbarity, is something we’d rather not share (for evidence-based confirmation of this description, consider the work of Bat Ye’or, Sir Martin Gilbert, Robert Irwin, Steven Emerson, Efraim Karsh, and Ibn Warraq). Let’s simply consider Ms. Siddiqui’s own record as an advocate for Islam.
In her personal history as a Muslim spokesperson, Siddiqui is a vivid illustration of a certain kind of Muslim contribution to Canada, of which I offer a few highlights.
Ms. Siddiqui is litigious. In 2004, she was responsible for a lengthy human rights complaint against B’nai Brith Canada for its hosting of an anti-terrorism conference for police, firefighters, and paramedics. Siddiqui lodged the complaint, which was investigated and ultimately dismissed by the Manitoba Human Rights Commission, because she felt the B’nai Brith-sponsored event was biased against Muslims. She had not actually attended the workshop, which was given by an internationally respected counter-terrorism organization, but she had spoken to a couple of people who did attend—and felt that in focusing on Muslim terrorism (gasp!), the event promoted hatred.
Given that in our time, Muslims are a majority of those who commit acts of terrorism and that they usually do so specifically in the name of Islam, it is hard to imagine how any legitimate counter-terrorism event could address terrorism without a sustained focus on Islam; nonetheless, Siddiqui took advantage of Canada’s hate speech legislation to hound B’nai Brith into a costly defence, and the Manitoba Human Rights Commission, to its everlasting shame, saw fit to pursue the complaint for five years before finally dismissing it for lack of evidence.
This is a Siddiqui modus operandi, it seems, labeling anti-terror activism as “hate propaganda” and seeking to censor it. In 2006, she led the charge against the Canadian premiere of Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West, a sober documentary film detailing, mostly through interviews with Islamists and secret tape recordings in mosques, the “indoctrination to jihad” taking place amongst Muslims worldwide. In an attempt to have criminal charges laid against the Jewish sponsors of the film, Siddiqui filed a complaint with the Winnipeg police hate crimes unit, stating that she wanted police “to be aware who the sponsors are and what they are doing.” It is not clear if Siddiqui actually watched the film before calling for the criminal prosecution of its sponsors.
Ms. Siddiqui has also made notable contributions to discussions of Islam. When Aqsa Parvez was killed by her father, Muhammad, and brother, Waqas, in 2007 because she rejected Islamic behavior codes, Siddiqui was distressed by news coverage assuming it was an “Islamic thing” (though Muhammad Parvez himself believed it was). She wrote in her capacity as Executive Director of the Islamic Social Services Association that Parvez’s murder was no different from any other case of family violence in Canada, and she castigated an unsympathetic host culture for failing to “support” the Parvez family: “And herein lies the crux of the matter: How do you maintain pride in your roots if your values are demonized, ridiculed, and condemned? What, if any, recourse does a parent have when the values of their family are labeled as un-Canadian and unjust by members of society, from schools to service providers and the justice system?”
The implication that Aqsa’s father killed her because his “values” were “demonized” by non-Muslims does not address why so many Pakistani fathers in Pakistan—where presumably their Muslim values are affirmed—also kill their daughters in alarming numbers, but it does neatly make the case that non-Muslim Canadian society owes Muslim-Canadians (more public funding for Muslim social services, in this case) in order not to be held responsible for future violence.
Ms. Siddiqui also offered clarification on a more recent Muslim-Canadian controversy: the Toronto school cafeteria (Valley Park Middle School) that becomes a mosque-space closed to non-Muslims every Friday, and in which girls and boys are separated and menstruating girls placed at the back of the room. In an opinion article in the Toronto Star, Siddiqui dismissed objections to the mosque, which began operation in 2011, ascribing the opposition to “secular extremists and gender Nazis,” and claiming that the controversy “reflects to what depths we have sunk when it comes to fear and hatred of Islam and Muslims.” It seems that when it comes to “demonizing” those with different “values,” Ms. Siddiqui can slug it out with the best of them.
Siddiqui’s defensiveness about Islam is understandable, if regrettable. Many people, after all, would be more than willing to outlaw criticism of their own and to have “offensive” people punished by the state. Siddiqui has learned well how to work the Canadian system: file human rights complaints, accuse critics of hate crimes, and claim that her cultural practices have been viciously misrepresented. Her aggressive style of advocacy may, from a Muslim-supremacist point of view, make her the ideal person to head up Islamic History Month Canada.
But an exemplar of tolerance she is definitely not. Siddiqui’s attitude to the non-Muslim majority is suggested in an interview she gave to Sound Vision, an Islamic website (a tip of the hat to Blazing Cat Fur for alerting me to this source). In discussing why she established the Islamic Social Services Association, she explained the dilemma of many Muslim women in Canada as follows:
“Majority of the abused Muslim women, if you ask them, why didn’t they turn for help, all they needed to do was call 911, they’ll say that ‘I don’t want him to go to jail, I don’t want to end up in a shelter where my children and I will be exposed to an un-Islamic lifestyle.’ So there is a fear that if they go to mainstream social services, they won’t be able to preserve their faith and their children will be lost in mainstream society. So they’ll choose the lesser of two evils.”
It is surely telling that Siddiqui’s account of Muslim revulsion at non-Muslim society contains no hint of disapproval or objection. Is this a woman who advocates the integration of Muslims into Canadian society? On the contrary, Siddiqui seems to sympathize with an attitude that sees beating or even death at the hands of a violent husband as “a lesser evil” to mixing with non-Muslim society, where one’s “children will be lost.”
With such comments and actions as evidence, it’s hard to feel that Shahina Siddiqui models the Canadian qualities of “inclusion” and “compassion” that she identified in her Islamic History Month press release. On the contrary, her comments imply a conviction that Muslim culture is superior to Euro-Canadian culture and that Canadians must adapt to Muslim values and doctrines or be judged guilty of criminal hatred. Thanks for “sharing,” Ms. Siddiqui—but no thanks.
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