What's Behind the Obsession with the Niqab Among the World’s Islamists?

Women are forced to wear the niqab in public in Saudi Arabia (Photo: © Reuters)

Women are forced to wear the niqab in public in Saudi Arabia (Photo: © Reuters)

Tarek Fatah

In Khaled Hosseini’s soul-piercing novel A Thousand Splendid Suns, the character Nana, a poor, unwed mother, tells her five-year-old daughter, Mariam: “Learn this now and learn it well, my daughter: Like a compass needle that points north, a man’s accusing finger always finds a woman. Always. You remember that, Mariam.”

Hosseini’s best-selling novel was about life in Afghanistan, but in the 30 words above he sums up the way men govern the lives of women across much of the Muslim world.

Like Mariam, millions of Muslim girls are told very early in life by their mothers that their place in society is one of submission; submission not to God, but to man.

Hosseini’s 2007 book remained at number one on the New York Times bestseller list for four months.

In its first week on the market, it sold over one million copies.

But if there is someone who seems not to have read the novel, it’s Liberal leader Justin Trudeau.

Trudeau’s recent championing of the niqab as a basic human right has aided Islamism in Canada and undermined millions of liberal Muslims around the world.

This includes the women in my own family, not to mention my late mother, who threw away the niqab in 1946.

The controversy began with the case of Zunera Ishaq, a Pakistani immigrant who wanted to take her Canadian citizenship oath with her face covered.

On being told she could not do so, she went to court and won the right not to remove her veil, while taking the oath.

Ottawa has appealed this lower court decision with Prime Minister Stephen Harper mounting a vigorous attack on the niqab.

He told the House of Commons:

“This is a society that is transparent, open and where people are equal, and I think we find that (not uncovering one’s face while taking the oath of citizenship) offensive.”

A few days later, he told the Commons, “Why would Canadians, contrary to our own values, embrace a practice at that time that is not transparent, that is not open and, frankly, is rooted in a culture that is anti-women?”

Harper emphasized many moderate Muslims agreed with the government’s position of banning the niqab from citizenship courts.

For his part, Trudeau tried to portray Harper as racist, equating Muslim women not being permitted to wear face masks in citizenship court to the plight of Jews who fled Nazi Germany, but were not allowed to enter Canada.

Trudeau could not have been more wrong.

While the Jews on board the St. Louis were not permitted to land in Canada, and went back to near certain death, the Muslim immigrant, Zunera Ishaq, was welcomed to Canada after leaving the Islamic State of Pakistan.

Leaving her specific case aside, what is it about this piece of cloth that triggers so much self-righteous angst among so many followers of Islam?

How could the covering of a woman’s head or face — which is not a requirement of the Qur’an — end up as the most defining symbol of Islam?

And what is the rationale behind the obsession with the niqab among the world’s Islamists?

The fact is, the niqab and, I would argue, the hijab, are today not just medieval symbols of female servitude; they also serve as flags of Islamism, dictated by the Muslim Brotherhood in the Arab world and its equivalent in South Asia, the Jamat-e-Islami.


Tarek Fatah, is a Canadian writer, broadcaster and anti-Islamist Muslim activist. He is the author of Chasing a Mirage: The Tragic Illusion of an Islamic State and the founder of the Muslim Canadian Congress.

The "Shockingly Anti-Western Views" of Supposed Moderates

The yellow Hezbollah flag worn by women at the 'Al Quds Day' protest in Toronto.

The yellow Hezbollah flag worn by women at the 'Al Quds Day' protest in Toronto.

Tarek Fatah

San Grewal is a Toronto Star reporter who first burst into limelight after 9/11 when he did a story on the hate being preached in Toronto-area mosques.

Five years later, in the  August 13, 2006 issue of the Toronto Star, Grewal, writes with sadness how the “fear of Muslims” has seeped into Canada as well as the UK, and how, as repugnant as this fear is, in his opinion many Muslims are actually contributing to this fear, by their anti-western views, while living in the west.

Grewal writes:

“But I regret to say that, in five years reporting since 9/11, I have met too many Muslims across the GTA who express extremely anti-western views. I have visited more than two dozen mosques and, in 2001, wrote of shockingly anti-western views expressed in many of them. I have also heard recent evidence in court against many of the 18 co-accused in the alleged terrorism plot by young Canadian Muslims to destroy buildings, kidnap politicians and harm innocent civilians. Yes, they are innocent until proven guilty. And yes, many Muslims in Canada have responded to the charges with the level of disgust the allegations warrant. But as each community Muslim steps forward to tell me — the brown-skinned reporter who surely must be sympathetic — that the charges of possible “homegrown” terrorism are part of a government conspiracy, I can’t help but shake my head and wonder, just how far apart are we from them.”

These are words from a journalist who sees himself as friend of the Muslim community. If Muslims do not pay heed to him, we risk a crisis that we will not be able to handle. By burning Israeli flags and waving Hizbollah’s Kalashnikov banners in Toronto, Muslim Canadians do no service to themselves. We simply alienate those who would be more than happy to be on our side as our advocates in our time of need.

The real problem is that many of these Islamists wear multiple masks. Within the poltical sphere, be it the NDP, the Liberal Party or the Tories and the Bloc, the same men and women who spout hate, masquerade as "moderate" Muslims, and sprinkle just enough words about "multiculturlaism," "charter rights" and "pluralism" to fool many in all the parties.

In the meantime the vast majority of Muslim Canadians, the 9-to-5 middle class secular liberal folks go unnoticed. Why? Because we don’t “look like Muslims”.

It is astonishing that the same guys who give feiry anti-west sermons are also working hand in glove with the RCMP and CSISRead and reflect.


Tarek Fatah, is a Canadian writer, broadcaster and anti-Islamist Muslim activist. He is the author of Chasing a Mirage: The Tragic Illusion of an Islamic State and the founder of the Muslim Canadian Congress.

White House Summit Insults Muslims Who Really Do Oppose 'Violent Extremism'

Anti-Islamist Muslims who were left out of the White House's summit “Countering Violent Extremism”

Anti-Islamist Muslims who were left out of the White House's summit “Countering Violent Extremism”

Tarek Fatah

On February 18, the White House hosted a three-day summit on “Countering Violent Extremism” to “counter hateful extremist ideologies that radicalize, recruit or incite to violence.”

Great care was taken by the Obama administration to avoid any mention of words associated with “Islam” or “Muslims.” Thus, “violent extremism” became the catch-all phrase to refer to Islamism, Islamist or Islamic extremism during the conference.

It soon became evident the three-day summit was a theatre of the absurd. The very people who have preached Islamism and promoted sharia in their sermons were invited to recommend how to undo the damage done by their teachings.

Imams from American mosques which practise gender-segregation and homophobia, representatives of Gulf Arab states who funded and promoted the ideology and the government of the Taliban in Afghanistan, and women sporting Muslim Brotherhood-mandated hijabs dotted the audience and speakers.

Conspicuous by their absence at the summit were prominent Muslims who have for the past decade been fighting the doctrine of the Islamic State (ISIS), which was the real focus of the conference.

One of the American Muslims not invited was the president of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, Dr. Zuhdi Jasser.

Reacting to President Barack Obama’s speech at the conference, he said: “(Obama) is insulting millions of reform-minded Muslims who are trying to reject and push back theocracy … And the leader of the free world in the meantime is saying, ‘Well, these terror groups are sort of coming out of thin air and it’s just sort of a crime, education and a job problem’ — which is absurd.”

Defeating ISIS might have been the stated intention of White House officials, but they did not find it worthwhile to talk to the only groups that have defeated Islamic State on the battlefield. Those are the fighters of the Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK), which the U.S. considers a terrorist organization, and their Syrian allies, the Yekîneyên Parastina Gel (YPG).

Another Muslim politician who should have been at the table was Ahmed Aboutaleb, the outspoken Muslim mayor of Rotterdam in the Netherlands. Born in Morocco, Aboutaleb first came into the international spotlight when he addressed Dutch Muslims on a Dutch TV network following the Charlie Hebdo attack saying, “if you do not like it here … may I then say you can f… off.”

Aboutaleb, who spent 15 years in Morocco living off “one meal a day,” and “walking without shoes” took a stab at the Obama administration’s suggestion that a growth in job opportunities may reduce radicalization.

“I know how it is to be a product of poverty, and I cannot accept that poverty leads to terrorism,” he said. “Poverty must lead to a seek to knowledge, to sciences, to be better, to climb on the social ladder …”

The frustration of anti-Islamist Muslims was best reflected in the headline of an essay by two American Muslim feminists, Asra Nomani and Hala Arafa, that appeared in The Daily Beast days after the White House conference ended. The headline read:

“Will It Take The End of the World For Obama To Recognize ISIS As ‘Islamic’?”

My fear is by the time America wakes up to the reality of the Islamic State, it may be too late to stop them.


Tarek Fatah, is a Canadian writer, broadcaster and anti-Islamist Muslim activist. He is the author of Chasing a Mirage: The Tragic Illusion of an Islamic State and the founder of the Muslim Canadian Congress.

Condolences to the Chapel Hill Victims

The victims of the Chapel Hill shootings.

The victims of the Chapel Hill shootings.

American Islamic Forum for Democracy

From the American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD):

AIFD wishes to send our condolences to the family and loved ones of Deah Barakat, Yusor Mohammad and Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, murdered in cold blood in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. These young people - ages 23, 21, and 19, respectively, may have  been targeted because they were Muslims - and in the case of the Yusor and Razan, who both wore headscarves, they were visibly so.

We know little about the suspect - Craig Stephen Hicks, age 46. Social media indicates that he was someone who wished religion would be eliminated entirely; some have questioned if there was some dispute between the parties over parking in the neighborhood. But as details emerge and as his ideology is examined, one thing is undeniable: unchecked and dangerous hatred is at the core of any senseless murder such as this.

The victims were young, but had already chosen paths that involved giving back to their communities: from feeding the homeless in North Carolina and providing them with medical supplies, to donating dental care to Syrian refugees and working to provide support to deaf communities.

Some have speculated that these murders were connected to vengeance - that is, revenge for the horrors committed under the banner of Islamism. Again, while we do not yet know what motivated Hicks, we must continue to work to combat the kind of hatred and hostility that pits good people of all faiths and none against one another.

As liberty-minded Muslims, we at AIFD receive  hostility and worse from all fronts: from those within the Muslim community who wish to see us silenced, to those outside of our community who harbor hatred toward all Muslims. Young people in particular who choose a path of peace and positive action represent the future of not just this country, but of our improved global security and international peace.

It is essential to remember that the militants of ISIS and their ilk would like nothing more than to enflame the world into a tit for tat of public executions. Our prayer is that our fellow Americans join us, reform-minded Muslims, on a firm trajectory towards anti-Islamist reform globally, which promotes genuine liberty under the law. This cannot be done without the full constructive engagement of American Muslim communities.

We extend our deepest sympathies to the family, loved ones and friends of Deah, Yusor and Razan; and to the entire Chapel Hill community, now rocked by this senseless and horrific violence. Our hearts are with you.


What Will It Take to Win the 'War on Terror': The Missing Factor

Pro-Taliban refugees charge a press convoy in Afghanistan (Photo: © Reuters)

Pro-Taliban refugees charge a press convoy in Afghanistan (Photo: © Reuters)

Dr. Tawfik Hamid

The recent burning of the Jordanian pilot is further evidence that Western measures to counter radical Islam since 9/11 have failed spectacularly. The U.S. and other free countries have spent trillions of dollars in the so-called "War on Terror." a futile attempt thus far to end or at least contain Islamic terrorism.

Our "strategy" (and I use the term very loosely indeed), which has relied predominantly on kinetic military confrontations, simply isn't working. The Western response to the problem has neither prevented the Taliban from regaining significant power in Afghanistan nor has it prevented the Islamic State (ISIS) from conducting barbaric terror acts in different parts of the world.

The beheading of the Japanese journalist, the recent killing of Charlie Hebdo journalists in downtown Paris, and too many other outrages are a continual reminder of our extraordinary ineffectiveness.  

History teaches us that wars only end when one side of the combatant groups is forced to surrender. History also teaches us that to force surrender generally requires a powerful deterrent. For example, World War II continued for years before the Allies forced first the Nazis, and then the emperor of Japan, to capitulate.

The deterrent in each case was the unambiguous threat that failure to submit would result inexorably in the utter erasure of the defeated nation from the face of the earth.  Similarly, during the Cold War, the deterrent-known as the MAD Doctrine (Mutually Assured Destruction) sufficed to prevent both the U.S. and the Russians from using nuclear weapons. Both sides wanted to live.

Our failure in fighting radical Islamists so far is fundamentally due to our failure to create a sufficient deterrent (or negative reinforcement tactic) that will sway the Islamic radicals from practicing their barbarism and from conducting future attacks.

Unlike the emperor of Japan and the Nazi leadership in WWII and unlike the Americans and Russians during the Cold War, Islamic radicals want to die!

Death for Allah is their ultimate goal. In other words, threatening to kill them too often works as a positive rather than a negative reinforcement factor.

The recent declaration that Jordan will execute failed suicide bomber Sajida Al-Rishawi "within hours" as revenge for the ISIS killing of hostage pilot Moath al-Kasasbeh is important but is not a sufficient deterrent.

She had intended to die a martyr. She failed. And now Jordan is snatching defeat from the jaws of victory by handing her a triumphal martyrdom. In the view of Islamic radicals, she will inherit paradise forever. We really need to rethink our approach.

The situation for the Islamic radicals is a win-win-win. If they are killed they will be martyrs who will live in paradise with the prophet Mohammed (as they strongly believe); if they achieve earthly victory, they will be able to impose their barbaric ideology on the rest of us; and if they are caught by the Infidels (the non-Muslim world, esp. the West) they will be treated humanely and will find Human Rights activists defending their rights.  

Denouncing the attacks, demonstrating against terrorism, refusing to call radical Islam by its name, and making statements like, "We will bring them to justice" just make the radicals topple over with laughter. Similarly, the U.S. president's recent statement (during his comments on the burning of the Jordanian soldier) that the U.S.  will redouble the vigilance and determination to defeat ISIS has zero impact on the Islamists, who are well aware that redoubling the wrong approach will not suddenly bring results.   

The use of military power is certainly needed; however, the lack of an effective deterrent guarantees the failure of such a one-dimensional approach.

The sad reality is that the Western responses to the problem (which have relied largely on incorrect assumptions, unrealistic perceptions and vain imaginations) have served in many situations as positive reinforcement for Islamic terrorism over the last 10 years.

One such response -- the U.S. delay in giving the Egyptian army the Apache helicopters needed to fight the radicals in the Sinai Peninsula – has been a great boon to Islamic radicals. Many of the leaders of ISIS got their training in Sinai before travelling to wreak havoc in Iraq and Syria.

Additionally, attempts in certain U.S. circles to punish the CIA officials who conducted waterboarding to gain information from the terrorists has only encouraged Islamic radicals to continue their war against our civilization.

Despite the fact that death is not a deterrent for Islamic radicals, there are certain deterrents that can bring them to their knees and end or significantly diminish their barbarism.

Such deterrents need to form the basis of an effective psychological operation (PSYOP) strategy to utterly defeat the Islamic radicals. This war needs to end. The fact that these deterrents have not been used is likely due to ignorance that they even exist.

Western "experts" on Islamic terrorism can only recommend solutions that they themselves can understand. Unfortunately, these "experts" seem to have very little insight into the minds of the Islamic radicals, and even less understanding of how the radical mindset can be undermined, manipulated and controlled.  

A proper PSYOP strategy with correct tactical implementation would not only deter the terrorists from conducting more atrocities, but would also significantly diminish the attraction of radicalism in the minds of young Muslims.

We have both the technology and the capability to engage in highly effective PSYOPS. But our inability (or maybe unwillingness) to use really effective content is giving the radicals the upper hand in this war.

Reformation and education are vital components for a long-term solution to the problem of Islamic radicalism. These components, however, will have minimal effect on those who are already radicalized. The only thing that can affect (and defeat) those who are already radicalized or those who are flirting with radicalism is the use of a truly powerful deterrent. Such deterrent(s) do exist, but they are far beyond the imagination of Western minds.

Note: I must unfortunately refrain from disclosing the nature of these deterrents in this article as the details of such tactics must not be publicized (as this may lessen their effectiveness). 


Dr. Tawfik Hamid is an Islamic thinker and reformer, and one-time Islamic extremist from Egypt. He was a member of a terrorist Islamic organization JI with Dr. Ayman Al-Zawaherri who became later on the second in command of Al-Qaeda. Hamid recognized the threat of radical Islam and the need for a reformation based upon modern peaceful interpretations of classical Islamic core texts. Dr. Hamid is currently a Senior Fellow and Chair of the study of Islamic Radicalism at the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies.

What Does It Mean When Anti-Islamist Muslims Are Ignored?

The Gatestone ad

The Gatestone ad

Tarek Fatah

Kenji Goto, a fellow journalist, died Saturday. Another innocent man beheaded by those among my co-religionists who wish to rule the world and to annihilate all non-Muslims.

This in order to pave the way for an end-of-times apocalypse.

Many Muslim heads hung in shame as Goto’s head rolled into a barren desert ditch, while western politicians and media refused to call the Islamic State jihad what it is, a jihad.

Similarly, the now-familiar masked man who kills for the camera and who beheaded Goto, was not referred to by most media as a “jihadi terrorist of the Islamic State” (which is who and what he is), but rather as “a militant with a British accent”.

At the official level, the Obama White House announced it will host a Feb. 18 “summit” to counter what it referred to as “violent extremism.”

Note the choice of words again. Not “jihadi terrorism” but the much more vague “violent extremism.”

Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, head of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy and a former U.S. Navy Lt. Commander, told me by not naming “jihadi terrorism” and “Islamism” for what they are, the White House has paid heed to Islamists within the administration who still exert influence over it.

In contrast to those who refuse to call jihadi terrorism what it is, over 20 Muslim leaders recently took out a remarkable full-page advertisement in The New York Times to denounce ISIS and Islamism.

In the ad, headlined: "What Can Muslims Do To Reclaim Their ‘Beautiful Religion’? "they wrote:

“Neither jihadism nor Islamism permit the equality of all humans irrespective of their race or religion and should therefore be rejected. Our denial and our relative silence must stop.”

The American signatories, led by Dr. Jasser, also had the support of former Danish MP Naser Khedar; former Pakistan ambassador to the U.S. Hussain Haqqani, now a professor at Boston University; Toronto Sun columnist Farzana Hassan; Canadian Muslims Raheel Raza and Munir Pervaiz and Britain’s leading Muslim warrior against Islamism, Majed Nawaz.

They declared, “It is the duty of … Muslims to actively and vigorously affirm and promote universal human rights, including gender equality and freedom of conscience. If Islam is a religion that stands for justice and peaceful coexistence, then the quest for an Islamic state cannot be justified as sanctioned by a just and merciful Creator.”

In a stirring challenge to ordinary Muslims, their New York Times ad went on to say:

We must also recognize and loudly proclaim that the quest for any and all ‘Islamic State(s)’ has no place in modern times. Theocracy, particularly Islamism, is a proven failure. The path to justice and reform is through liberty.

Instead of engaging with these progressive Muslims and supporting their call for reform, not only did the White House ignore them, but every media outlet I saw other than Fox News did as well.

As if to reinforce the blindfold the Obama administration wears on these matters, we also learned from Eric Schultz, the White House deputy press secretary, that the the U.S. government no longer considers the Taliban as a “jihadi terrorist” group, but rather as an “armed insurgency.”

If this is how America fights its war against the Islamic State, ISIS will win, but not before many more innocents like Kenji Goto die.​


Tarek Fatah, is a Canadian writer, broadcaster and anti-Islamist Muslim activist. He is the author of Chasing a Mirage: The Tragic Illusion of an Islamic State and the founder of the Muslim Canadian Congress.

To Fight Islamist Terror, We Must Fight Anti-Semitism

The Jewish supermarket, Hyper Cacher, which was attacked by an Islamist connected to the Charlie Hebdo attackers.

The Jewish supermarket, Hyper Cacher, which was attacked by an Islamist connected to the Charlie Hebdo attackers.

Tahir Gora and Ryan Mauro

The Islamist terrorist attacks in Paris included the targeting of Jews at a Kosher grocery by an Islamic State supporter. This anti-Semitism is at the root of the Islamist ideology and we must fight it instead of using it to prove points about the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Islamist ideology and anti-Semitism are intertwined. One of the main themes is that Jews and Islam have been at war since the times of Prophet Mohammed and will be at war until the end of days.

The charter of Hamas includes an Islamic verse stating that Allah’s final triumph “will not come until Muslims will fight the Jews (and kill them); until the Jews hide behind rocks and trees, which will cry: O Muslim! there is a Jew hiding behind me, come on and kill him.”

These anti-Semitic interpretations of the faith are why Islamist clerics preach that the West is controlled by a Zionist conspiracy. The emphasis on war with the Jews leads many Muslims to see all conflict as part of this greater war. It also opens the door to wicked anti-Semitic propaganda that makes peace impossible.

Unfortunately, many Muslims and non-Muslims treat attacks on Jews as if they are somehow different than attacks on non-Jews. The former is seen as an attack on Western civilization, while the latter is talked about as an extension of the Israeli-Arab conflict. The hatred behind the violence towards Jews is justified, even if the violence itself is condemned.

Turkish President Erdogan is a great example. He lashed out over the Israeli Prime Minister’s presence at the international rally following the Paris attacks.

“How can a man who has killed 2,500 people in Gaza with state terrorism wave his hand in Paris, like people are waiting in excitement for him to do so? How dare he go there?” said Erdogan.

Erdogan’s fury over Israel’s inclusion was fiercer than his condemnation of the Paris attacks. He even suggested that the attacks are part of a Western conspiracy against Islam and made the outrageous claim that, “As Muslims, we’ve never taken part in terrorist massacres.”

Islamist terrorists argue that they are defending the Muslim world from a Western-Jewish conspiracy against Islam. How is this any different than what Erdogan is saying?

One of the most famous Muslim leaders, Tariq Ramadan, wrote a similar kind of note on his Facebook page:

“Difficult to walk beside (or behind) leaders whose ideologies and political decisions have killed thousands of children, women and men, and are one of the causes of extremism. They march in Paris for human dignity and freedom of expression while their government is killing, torturing and destroying,” he wrote.

Erdogan, Ramadan and other pro-Islamism leaders always shift attention away from the illnesses within the Muslim world. The relatively few cases of mosques being attacked in the West get constant attention but little is given to attacks on mosques in the Muslim world or the mistreatment of Muslims by groups like Hamas.

The West should not think that cutting itself off from Israel will do any good. The Islamist leaders and their flocks will always see the West and Israel as one unit. Just as the West is characterized as Zionist puppets, Israel is characterized as a base for Western imperialism.

This is illustrated by a flyer that was distributed in Toronto in September 2012 among the 2,000 participants of demonstrations against a movie mocking Islam and the Prophet Mohammed. It stated at the top in all caps, “THE JEWISH PURPOSE THUS SERVED.”

The filmmaker wasn’t Jewish. Jews didn’t have anything to do with making the film. Neither did Israel. Yet, the protestors were chanting, “Shame, Shame Israel.”

Avi Benlolo of the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center correctly wrote after the Paris attacks:

"The hate began with increasing violence against Jews and has now spilled over to society at large, threatening the very foundations of French liberty. But this is not only a Jewish issue or a French problem. Islamic fanaticism thrives on secrecy, censorship and fear, threatening all those who dare raise their voices against it."

Anti-Semitism is one of the most important pillars of Islamist terrorist beliefs. The first targets are Jews, but Jews are seen as a component of the West.

Muslim organizations need to proactively curb anti-Semitism and debunk falsehoods about Jews and about Israel, even if they disagree with Israeli policy. Supporting Palestinian statehood should not mean embracing all of Israel’s enemies or legitimizing anti-Semitic violence by using it to score political points against Israel.

We need to hold Muslim and non-Muslim leaders accountable when their criticism of Israel crosses over into outlandish conspiracy theories and anti-Semitic propaganda. We cannot have reasonable solutions when the problems are based on wild exaggerations and hatred.


Tahir Gora is a Pakistani and the Director of the Canadian Thinkers’ Forum, a member of the Coalition of Progressive Muslim Canadian Organizations. He can be followed on Twitter at

Ryan Mauro is’s national security analyst, a fellow with Clarion Project and an adjunct professor of homeland security. Mauro is frequently interviewed on top-tier television and radio. Read more, contact or arrange a speaking engagement.

King Abdullah: "We Will Shed No Tears"

U.S. President Barack Obama with Saudi King Abdullah (Photo: © Reuters)

U.S. President Barack Obama with Saudi King Abdullah (Photo: © Reuters)

American Islamic Forum for Democracy

We at the American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD) will shed no tears for King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, who passed away yesterday, January 22.

As the head of a tyrannical, murderous and notoriously repressive government, King Abdullah is responsible for the execution of dissidents, the torture of minorities, and the exportation of the most malignant strain of politicized, radicalized Islam the world has known.

We do not share in the saccharine and morally bankrupt assessment of many in the media. King Abdullah was no “reformer,” and we grant him no credit for “nudging” the Kingdom forward. Under King Abdullah’s reign, Saudi Arabia remained the country where bloggers are sentenced to potentially fatal lashings, where writers are jailed for tweets , dissidents and “witches” are beheaded, and where the monarchy itself participates in child marriage and the religious establishment calls Jews “apes and pigs.” We have to question the integrity of those in the media and ruling classes who are now eulogizing King Abdullah as though he were worthy of admiration. Even Queen Elizabeth has ordered Britain’s flags to fly at half-mast today. While we do not revel in death, we also will not celebrate or participate in the fictional retelling of King Abdullah’s legacy.

The House of Saud, with the king at the helm, likes to refer to itself as the “Custodian of the two Holy Mosques” – that is, the owners and overseers of the holiest sites in Islam. We at AIFD reject not only this structure, but also the Saudi regime’s stranglehold on contemporary Islam. From the megalomania of the House of Saud to the cancer of Wahhabism, we at AIFD recognize that the real reformers of Saudi Arabia are languishing in its jails, dying by its sword, and living suffocated behind its walls; while those in power fuel the radicalization that brought us 9/11, the attack at Fort Hood, and even ISIS. The real human tragedy and loss is that today, the world sends condolences for King Abdullah while heroes like Raif Badawi remain in prison, the marks of severe lashes yet unhealed.

While we will not cry for King Abdullah, we are also not optimistic about his successor, King Salman – said to be even more repressive and problematic than King Abdullah, particularly with regard to women’s and minority rights.

In the wake of King Abdullah’s passing, we will not just pray for, but also continue to work tirelessly for the day when we Muslims and the world rid ourselves of the evils of theocracy and dictatorship. At a time when the movement to advance individual liberty and autonomy within the “house of Islam” is already challenging, we who stand for freedom and universal human rights must be more diligent than ever. Our hill just became steeper.

Betrayal: The Left Should be Leading the Fight Against Islamists

Leftist group Code Pink leader Medea Benjamin (L) chants as she and other demonstrators are escorted out of the hearing room by U.S. Capitol police officers. Code Pink has a history of  supporting Hamas and the brutal Iranian regime. (Photo: © Reuters)

Leftist group Code Pink leader Medea Benjamin (L) chants as she and other demonstrators are escorted out of the hearing room by U.S. Capitol police officers. Code Pink has a history of supporting Hamas and the brutal Iranian regime. (Photo: © Reuters)

Tarek Fatah

As the world struggles to understand and cope with the rise of pan-Islamism and international jihadi terrorism within Western countries, one thing is becoming increasingly clear.

The success of the Islamists is partly due to what I believe is a grand betrayal of civil society by the political left in the western democracies.

Instead of leading the fight against the fanatics’ religious obscurantism, they have embraced it.

The refusal of social democrats, liberals and leftists to stand up to Islamofascism in the democracies of Europe, North America, India and South Africa, has also had an unintended consequence.

It has paved the way for an anti-immigrant backlash against all non-whites, in which the left are portrayed as apologists for religious fanaticism.

An unnecessary rise of xenophobia that could have been avoided, had the left led the struggle against Islamofascism, is now entrenched.

Imagine if Labour in the UK, Democrats in the U.S., the Congress and CPM in India, socialists in France and the left in Canada had not catered to Islamists, but instead drawn a line in the sand on such issues as gender apartheid.

Think how different things would be today.

Instead we’ve had more than a decade of appeasement.

Last week I sat down with a few surviving friends on the left from the 1960s, who are fortunately in Canada now. “What is wrong with the left today?” we asked ourselves.

Back in 1965, fresh into college, I was first exposed to the phenomenon of pan-Islamism when India and Pakistan went to war.

Millions marched chanting, “Allah O Akbar”, “Death to Hindus”, “Islam Zindabad” (Long live Islam) as we followed the mobs burning American and Indian flags and, for some reason that escapes me now, attacking the local offices of KLM.

In the following weeks I would meet the first influential leftists in my life. They were senior students at my college who distributed leaflets saying “beware of religious fanaticism” and, “We want peace, not war”.

I was flabbergasted at the thought a Muslim would not want to wage jihad against Islam’s enemies and engaged in a heated debate with a med student. What followed was weeks of missed classes, late-night debates under dim streetlights and the opening of a new world to me ­— that of politics.

Religion was not the answer, science and reason were, these senior students convinced me.

I read Bertrand Russell’s Why I am Not a Christian, Maxim Gorky’s The Mother and John Reed’s Ten Days that Shook the World.

I read Lenin, including one of his first works, Draft Theses on National and Colonial Questions, which he had presented to the second Congress of the Communist International — the Comintern.

This is what Lenin said about what he labelled as states, “in which feudal or patriarchal relations predominate.”

Leftists who today excuse, defend, and even support the Islamists should pay attention.

“It is particularly important to bear in mind: The need for a struggle against the clergy and other influential reactionary and medieval elements in backward countries; … the need to combat Pan-Islamism and similar trends, which strive to combine the liberation movement against European and American imperialism with an attempt to strengthen the positions of the khans, landowners, mullahs, etc.”

I detest what communism ended up doing, but Lenin’s wisdom on this point left an imprint on this Muslim’s mind forever.

The left’s betrayal will not be forgotten.

Tarek Fatah, is a Canadian writer, broadcaster and anti-Islamist Muslim activist. He is the author of Chasing a Mirage: The Tragic Illusion of an Islamic State and the founder of the Muslim Canadian Congress.

Can We Talk about the Elephant in the Room Now?

Raheel Raza

Since the terror attacks of 9/11 I’ve never heard or seen so many experts on Islam and Islamism in print and on electronic media as I do today, with few in-depth details about either issue or offering tangible solutions.

When I spoke out against Islamism ten years ago, I was labeled a heretic, when I wrote my book I was labeled a fear-monger, but today I’m saying it again. This is not the first or last instance of Islamist terrorism in the West and it will not stop.

Following this latest attack in Paris, we at the Council of Muslims Facing Tomorrow have sympathized, put out press releases and prayed.  We’ve tried to exemplify and illustrate the importance of free speech. Are the words being heeded – is the media listening?

After 9/11 there was ample opportunity to find the root cause of Islamist terrorism and address it but what happened?  Nobody seems to be interested in the solutions. Politicians are concerned that their vote bank should not be shaken so they stick to political correctness and can’t seem to articulate the words “Islamist” and “terrorism” in the same sentence; media is all about sensationalizing news in sound bites that sometimes do more harm than good; civil society doesn’t want to touch the issue because they feel it’s not their concern – they’re leading a happy contented life they’ll continue to look the other way. But tomorrow an incident could take place right here where I live which can affect my children, my grandchildren, my neighbours and coworkers. It’s only a matter of time.

So let’s dig in our heels – get to the root cause and let’s do something about it.

But first we need to put aside political correctness and fear of being called an “Islamophobe” (Oh yes that victim card is being played very well). Let’s get some clarity.

We clearly differentiate between Islam as a faith and Islamism as a political ideology. On our website for Muslims Facing Tomorrow we quote the words of Professor Salim Mansur that “Islamists do not want to be part of our civilized world. They are at war with it. They want to replace it with their Sharia-based vision for society. This is what people, and especially the politicians, in the West have to understand instead of being deluded that Islamists can be accommodated. Such an understanding of what the Islamists want is the least we in the West owe in mourning the dead at “Charlie Hebdo” and to the countless numbers of victims of the Islamist war against the civilized world – victims in Peshawar and Mumbai, Bali and Karachi, Jerusalem, Madrid, London, New York, and towns and villages dotted across the Middle East, Central and Southeast Asia, and Africa.”

What is the Muslim world doing? We kept silent when we heard hate being taught and promoted through our curriculums and through our organizations. We let the Mullah make decisions for us and like sheep we followed, right or wrong. We did not take the time to promote the spiritual message of our faith and it was subsumed by a violent political message full of anger and aggression against the other.

When Pakistani preachers and TV anchors were wilfully promoting violence against minorities, we sat silent because it did not affect us as the majority; when women were being brutally killed in the name of honor, we argued about the semantics of the word ‘honor’ and we kept silent because it was not happening to our sisters or daughters; we blamed ignorance and illiteracy for the extremism, not willing to acknowledge that it’s happening among educated masses; we blamed everyone but ourselves. 

We are unable to acknowledge that the majority of Muslims today all the way from Afghanistan to Zambia are influenced (if not actively violent) by the ideology of The Muslim Brotherhood, Khomeni-ism or Salafi/Wahhabi Islam, all of which have been embedded into Western society thanks to funding by petro-dollars.

There are cries of denial saying that political Islam (Islamism) is a small movement but we’ve been proven wrong. It’s a massive movement supported by colossal funding to establish a global Ummah and to return to the days of the Caliphate. If this means getting rid of anyone who comes in the way, whether Muslim or non-Muslim, so be it – they will be brutally eliminated, and we see this happening.

What is the media up to? Media channels in North America are using the odious Anjem Choudary as the credible voice for all Muslims. In an interview when I tried to intervene and point out that he is the devils spawn, I was cut off and I heard other guests saying “he speaks for real Islam.” Evil makes for good news. The voices of balance who are struggling to keep their heads afloat are not given equal time to explain the solutions.

Some government leaders (not the Canadian Prime Minister and the President of France) are of the opinion that they can sit down and have a warm, fuzzy conversation with the extremists. Maybe they will exchange hugs. Sorry to burst the bubble but the terrorists will soon be pointing a gun at your face. Other leaders are (perhaps wilfully) blind to the fact that Saudis are flooding into North America. On a tour of U.S. universities last fall, I discovered that many of them are actively recruiting students from Saudi Arabia because they bring in lots of money. I’m told that the U.S. Consulate also will issue a special visa for the male “guardians” who accompany Saudi women. Just today I met a doctor from a prestigious children’s hospital in Toronto who informed me that Saudi interns are being welcomed because for every Saudi intern, their government pays for one local intern so money flows and lips are sealed.

We have to tackle radical Islamism like the international community tackled communism, fascism and Marxism, by acknowledging the problem and dealing with it together, regardless of faith, political leanings, ethnicity, creed or color. Governments, communities, civil society and media need to come together with less of a knee-jerk reaction and more strategy on how we can stop this monster before it devours all of us.



Raheel Raza is an award-winning author, journalist, and filmmaker on the topics of jihad and sharia. She is president of The Council for Muslims Facing Tomorrow, and an activist for human rights, gender equality, and diversity. She is one of nine women's rights activists who took part in Clarion Project's film "Honor Diaries" which breaks the silence on honor violence against women.

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