Tom Quiggin, Special to The CJN
The recent report titled The Muslim Brotherhood in North America began as an examination of extremist views spreading in Canada. The Muslim Brotherhood is perhaps the most effective of such organizations in Canada.
We require a national level, intelligent discussion in Canada on the role of the Muslim Brotherhood and similar extremist groups. The federal government bears this responsibility. The United Kingdom is currently having a similar inquiry.
Should this group be allowed government accreditation? Should it get public grant money? Can it lobby the government or should it be allowed to have charity status for its multiple organizations? Once one charity has lost its charitable status for funding terrorism, should those charities having common board members be delisted as charities? Should the Muslim Brotherhood be allowed to run schools?
These questions should be raised as individuals such as Muslim Brotherhood “Masu” (leader) Jamal Badawi advocates wife beating in Canada as an acceptable practice. CAIR-CAN (now the National Council of Canadian Muslims) founding board member Shahina Siddiqui has argued that polygamy is acceptable and advocates for it in Canada. While the majority of Islam has been working to eradicate the practice of female genital mutilation, the Muslim Brotherhood has consistently supported it and organized against the criminalization of the practice in 2008. It advocated for it when elected in Egypt 2012.
Additionally, charities with Muslim Brotherhood connections such as IRFAN (the International Relief Fund for the Afflicted and Needy) and the Islamic Society of North America’s Development Foundation lost their charitable status for funding terrorist groups in Kashmir and the Middle East, despite being warned against such practices. In addition to terrorism funding, IRFAN defrauded Canadians by raising money for natural disasters (such as the South Asian tsunami of 2004) and then sending the money to Hamas.
Why has London, Ont., among other cities, become a radicalization point where young Canadians set off to kill and be killed in foreign lands to serve extremism? Is there a strong Ikhwani (Brotherhood) connection to this city?
The failure to examine political extremism is costly. The Air India disaster is one example, although it remains unclear as to what lessons have been learned. Charities of an extremist nature procure funds in Canada while groups still use Canada for weapons procurement.
The federal government needs to initiate an inquiry into extremist organizations. Outright bans may be effective, but that is questionable given that the Muslim Brotherhood’s Jerusalem Fund for Human Services was blocked from charitable status in 1999, but then the Ikhwani simply set up IRFAN in 2000 as an alternative.
One useful side effect of an inquiry would be a closer look at who speaks for the majority of Canadian Muslims who do not support the Muslim Brotherhood. All too often, we are told that such-and-such group “speaks on behalf of Canadian Muslims” when it is clear that they speak only for their own cause.
As a court appointed expert on terrorism and intelligence in the criminal, civil and immigration courts, it is clear to me that defining extremism and identifying its adherents is a difficult but not impossible task. I have testified against those who have posed a security threat to Canada. Alternatively, my role in other cases was to defend Muslims in Federal Court and to the Immigration and Refugee Board Court when their statements or activities did not constitute a threat.
An effective approach would ensure that such groups do not get charitable status, nor should they get government accreditation or public funds. The government should also educate itself so adherents of extremist groups are not named to government panels or boards. In short, the government of Canada should not be plugging an amplifier into the propaganda of foreign extremist organizations, nor should it fund them.
Defining and defending Canada against extremist views is both a duty and responsibility of the government of Canada. A timely investigation into such matters is an absolute necessity.
Tom Quiggin is the author of the recently released report on the Muslim Brotherhood in North America. The report is available at www.tsecnetwork.ca