Calgary Herald reviews Chasing a Mirage: White liberals "should quit excusing extremists"
- May 24, 2008Muslim author's book calls onCanadians to condemn Islamists
The Calgary Herald
http://www.canada.com/calgaryherald/news/theeditorialpage/story.html?id=f68dd36f-fb8b-4357-9e3d-50a3c8937b25The irony of the Muslim world is that to exercise basic human rights, such as freedom of religion, conscience and speech, Muslims have to leave Islamic states. Saudi Arabia, for instance, is not a place where people agree to disagree over the finer points of Islam. Nor is Pakistan, or Iran: And, while the Taliban had control, neither was Afghanistan.So, it makes you wonder why anybody who has left these places to start a new life in Canada (or any of the other liberal democracies) would want to establish in their new home, what they left behind in their old. But, as Londoners found a few years ago, there is such a thing as home-grown terrorism. Meanwhile, here in Canada several young Canadian-born Muslim men remain in custody after evidence was discovered of a plot to bomb buildings and kill the prime minister.My gut says this will prove at trial to be an amateur-hour effort, but even blithering idiots can kill people. (One of the IRA's few redeeming features was how many of its adherents blew themselves up while building bombs intended for somebody else.) And, there has been a serious attempt to introduce the thin end of the sharia law wedge into Ontario.Now, if I -- as an unreconstructed white guy, and a Christian to boot -- made these assertions based on no more than my own observations, I would probably be up to my knees in paperwork from somebody's human rights commission. Pointing out the lack of human rights in Islamic states, you see, is the kind of seditious talk that human rights commissions in Canada hate.However, I'm actually just quoting the gist of what Tarek Fatah says in his new book, Chasing a Mirage: the Tragic Illusion of an Islamic State. As he puts it,"Today, the only Muslims who are free to practice their faith as they choose and participate in public life as equal citizens without having to validate their tribal, racial, or family lineage live as tiny minorities in secular democracies such as India, South Africa, Canada and many European countries. Yet, even while seeing the advantages of life under secular civil society, many of them are committed to the establishment of the Islamic State."I guess that makes me an infidel, and Fatah a heretic.I ran into him at the Hyatt this week, after a book signing. If I were a Liberal (he claims to be, though I believe he may be salvageable) I'd call him a poster boy for multicultural Canada."An Indian born in Pakistan; a Punjabi born in Islam," he writes of himself, a Muslim with Hindu ancestors, a left-wing student imprisoned for radical activities against the Pakistani military junta, who reported for a Karachi newspaper, sold ads in Saudi Arabia and admires Tommy Douglas and Pierre Trudeau. He came to Canada in 1987, and worked in Bob Rae's office while Rae was Ontario premier.How does he like Canada?"It is only here in Canada that I can speak out against the hijacking of my faith and the encroaching spectre of a new Islamo-fascism."He is obviously completely integrated. So, what about the Muslims he writes of, who are not? They have been seduced, he says, by the tragic illusion referred to in his book's title: An Islamic State. Deeply ingrained in the Muslim psyche, he writes, is the idea of replicating the so-called Golden Age of the Rightly Guided Caliphs -- but few Muslims are willing to consider the implications of what they're asking for.That's his argument, and his book, a comprehensive review of Muslim history to back up his contention that Islamic States cannot be deduced from the teachings of the prophet, and where they have existed, they have been Muslims' most egregious oppressors.Christians, many of whom deplore the same things in western society that radical Islamists so despise, are routinely challenged from the pulpit to internalize their faith, rather than follow an empty form of it. Thus, Christian living is supposed to follow from an inner desire to please God, not conformity to external rules. Indeed, some Christians will concede a Christian state could easily become a suffocating society, even without the rigorous compulsions once made available by the state to the church.Tarek makes a parallel plea, for Muslims to aspire to a "state of Islam," rather than an Islamic State, the current iterations of which take compulsion all the way to public beheading.His book will not impress hard-line Islamists. Canadians, however, may take it as evidence one can be a Muslim, and loyal to a secular state. We need to hear that more often from Muslims -- and also what Tarek says of white liberals, that they should quit excusing extremists. He certainly doesn't.