El-Farouk Khaki responds to Khaled Mouammar's criticism of the MCC
Last week, Khaled Mouammar, a prominent respected member of the Arab
community wrote to Niaz Salimi, the President of the Muslim Canadian
"I wish the MCC would spend less time criticizing other Muslim organizations
and focus its energies on exposing the Islamophobia and the rising racism in
Canadian society since 9/11."
Khaled's message comes in the wake of a fairly widespread character
assasination of the MCC. We are being portrayed as "Anti-Arab" simply
because of our criticism of Islamists and Mohammed Elmasry. In addition, our
criticism of an event where a visiting Syrian Minister was honoured by
prominent Arab Canadians, is also being presented as evidence of our
supposed anti-Arab nature.
Our criticism of the Syrian Minister has rubbed some community leaders the
wrong way. It seems they have not been able to understand their own
contradiction of supporting Maher Arar's case on one hand and embracing his
torturers on the other.
When the MCC bashes the Iranian governement, no one says we are
anti-Iranian. When we mock Musharraf, everyone cheers, but if we raise a
finger at dictatorial Arab regimes, we are taken to task by the Islamists
and their supposedly secular fans.
Here is El-Farouk Khaki's response to Khaled Mouammar.
Niaz Salimi, President of the MCC, forwarded your message to me in my
capacity as Secretary General of the MCC.
Dear friend, the premise of your argument is based on the false assumption
that the MCC is NOT fighting racism.
The fact is that most of us in the MCC are veterans in the fight against
racism, homophobia and misogyny; not just for public consumption, but in our
The fight against racism does not mean we give up our fight against the most
homophobic and misogynist groups in Canada. Those who consider women as
second class citizens, destined forever to sit at the back of the mosques or
tucked away in basements, will always have to face our criticism.
Those who consider gays and lesbians worthy of contempt and deserving death
punishment by stoning, can never be our friends, even if they are Muslims.
The Left's love-affair with the fundamentalists Muslims can best be
described as 'the fetishization of exotica'. For the non-Muslim Left, we,
the MCC, are just not 'exotic' enough to fit their bill of 'progressiveness'
and 'inclusivity' to be apparent.
Under no circumstances would the MCC give up criticizing the Muslim
Brotherhood and other fascist Muslim organisations.
Just because an organisation is Muslim does not give them some blanket
protection from critical analysis.
We are not a group driven by a primitive sense of solidarity based on race
and religion that propels us to cover up cover up hate, regardless of the
perpatrators . Most of us come from a background of struggles involving
human rights, women's rights and gay rights. Others have spent time in
prisons for their socialist backgrounds and have faced these Islamofacists
Having said that, we all do our bit in fighting Islamophobia. You yourself
have attended a number of MCC events and shoudl be intimately aware of this
At the same time, however, I believe too many men and women of intellect
have allowed political Islam to rear its head and devour our societies.
Others are using the term "Islamophobia" to cover their own hateful agendas.
Sitting in the comfort of Canada, it is easy to relish Islamic
fundamentalism as if it is an exotic enterprise.
Too many - if not Muslim organisations in Canada are promoting sharia and
social conservatism, bordering fanaticism.
Instead of denegrating the MCC, I would have hoped that a person of your
stature would have taken umbrage at the practise of labelling Muslims
'murtud', accusing Muslims of 'apostasy'; a thinly veiled ncitement to
commit violence against us.
But I guess, since charges of apostasy would never adversely affect
non-Muslims, I can appreciate if they cannot understand the veiled death
threats that are part and parcel of this technique, which has roots in the
teachings of Syed Qutb, Maududi and Khomeini.
I am disturbed that the MCC is being portrayed as anti-Arab by self-serving
Islamists, simply because we have the courage to attack those who play host
to representatives of Arab dictators.
Some of us may not be of Arab origin in the MCC, others are. But ours is not
a tribal organisation where we defend Palestine purely because it is an Arab
issue. When we marched in support of the Viet Cong, we didn't march because
we were Vietnamese; we marched because we were humanists.
I have spent the better part of my life fighting for Palestinian rights,
without asking for anything in return. It is with pain and agony that I read
the accusations that the MCC is anti-Arab. Those making such accusations
should be ashamed of themselves. They do no service to the Arab or the
They merely demonstrate the paucity of intellect that governs Arab discourse
after the death of Edward Said.
Perhaps some may wish to live under sharia and that is why they defend the
proponents of sharia like Mohammad Elmasry. However, I don't. Our colleagues
escaped sharia and witnessed the murders of tens of thousands by Ayatollah
Khomeini, the Taliban and the Saudi regime.
I would urge you to debate an argument based on its merits, not on the basis
of the race or ethnicity of the people involved.
Fighting racism, as you ask MCC to do, involves, as a first step,
aggressively confronting racism within one's own community. I don't stand up
for people simply because they are of Indian or African descent.
I would hope you too would first and foremost stand up publicly against any
expression of racism within our own communities before you ask others to
work against it.
Muslim Canadian Congress