Thursday, March 02, 2006

Further evidence of a clash of civilizations

In my column, "Elmasry exemplifies the clash of civilizations," The London Free Press (February 21, 2006), I quoted Mohammad Elmasry, national president of the Canadian Islamic Congress, as having recently described the Taliban terrorists of Afghanistan as “a popular movement with strong grassroots support.” With reference to the Canadian troops now serving in Afghanistan, he added: “many Afghans … perceive Americans -- and the Canadians who follow them -- as hostile foreigners occupying their country. Is it any surprise that some turn to suicide bombing?”
In light of the subsequent terrorist attacks on Canadian troops in Afghanistan, one might have supposed that Elmasry would want to clarify his views on Taliban suicide bombers. But no. In a rebuttal published in The Free Press on Wednesday (see below), he simply denounces me as "anti-Islam" for criticizing him.
I think you will also find interesting the revealing exchange of emails I have had over this same column of mine with Yahya Abdul Rahman. He is a Canadian convert to Islam, otherwise known as Shawn Smith, who edits the Montreal Muslim News.

First, Elmasry's rebuttal:

The London Free Press,
March 1, 2005
By Mohammed Elmasry

Rory Leishman's column, Cartoonclash polarizes (Feb. 21) was, as usual, anti-Islam, lacking fairness and balance, devoid of substantiated analysis and riddled with chopped logic.

Leishman did not, for example, explain to LFP readers why Canadians
shouldn't use our country's enlightened hate laws in response to the
deliberately targeted republication of those offending Danish cartoons.
Isn't the law meant to treat all citizens -- including minorities --
equally? Isn't the law supposed to identify anti-Islam hate literature
as clearly as it does anti-Semitic propaganda?

Canada is the only Western country to have such laws on the books, but
if they aren't applied with the equality inherent in our constitutional
rights and freedoms, we might as well abolish this legislation altogether.

Leishman makes matters worse by continuing to twist quotations of
mine out of context, or omitting salient facts that he knows but chooses
to ignore whenever they challenge his biases. He failed once again to
acknowledge that many Israeli prime ministers and IRA leaders were once
designated as terrorists by the British, as was Nelson Mandela by the
former Apartheid South African government. Yet many went on to become
the peacemakers of the next generation, some even winning Nobel prizes
for their efforts. This could well be the case for Hamas, if it is given
a fair chance to govern.

As for the Taliban, their popularity as a grassroots organization and
their influence among Afghani youth does not mean that we Canadians
should agree with them. It does not mean either that Canadians should
risk their lives to fight them in their homeland.

I usually do not answer my critics, but Leishman did such a poor job of
understanding the issues that I had to respond, for the sake of the
London Free Press readers.

Mohamed Elmasry is national president of the Canadian Islamic Congress in Waterloo.
Here is the first email from Yahya Abdul Rahman:

Dear Mr.Leishman,

Re (your last column):

Before resorting to the ridiculous and reductionist "Clash Of
Civilizations" thesis, you might want to read the following article by
Robert Wright, a senior fellow at the New America Foundation, in the
New York Times.
You might also want to read the voluminous critiques
on Huntington's work which exposes the flaws in Huntington's
thinking. Gregory Melleuish's article titled "The Clash of
Civilizations: A Model Of Historical Developmnent?" published in the
journal "Thesis Eleven" in August 2000 would be a good start as well
as anything by the late Dr. Edward Said. Here is an abstract of
Melleuish's article:

Take a look at this link also:

Yahya Abdul Rahman

Montreal Muslim News Network -
Send us your feeback at:

My response:
Dear Mr. Rahman:
In the opening paragraph of my column, I stated:
In 1996, Prof. Samuel P. Huntington of Harvard University predicted in his book The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order that “the single and most dangerous dimension of the emerging global politics would be conflict between groups from differing civilizations.”
What more dangerous dimension of the emerging global politics do you apprehend?
Also, what is your opinion on the views expressed by Elmasry cited in my column?
Best wishes,

Raman's reply:

Thanks for responding.

It seems to me you were more interested in discrediting Dr. Elmasry
than commenting honestly or giving any credit to the numerous attempts
by the Muslim community to launch a dialogue on the cartoon issue. And
there is a lot of effort taking place on this front. See for example
the efforts of the Muslim Council of Montreal:

You seem to have left the impression that Dr. Elmsary is the
personification of the Muslim community here in Canada and that his
views on one issue categorize or label him in all other issues also
and, by extension, the Muslim community in general. No one gives Dr.
Elmasry credit for the tremendous contributions he has made to Canada
in the past 30 years. He has trained hundreds of graduate students in
the high tech industry and made huge contributions to scientific
knowledge through his research. This in turn has helped booste
Canada's contributions in the high tech industry and created well
paying jobs. But no, this wont be mentioned because the media would be
forced to give a Muslim some credit instead of continually labeling
them as some fifth column, like this fanantic website does:

Also, the media gives a lot of attention to a Tarek Fatah in Toronto
and his Canadian Muslim Congress, whose membership could fit into a
phone booth, because this former communist back in Pakistan and now
gay-rights defender spends all of his energy attacking the Muslim
community. The man is almost universally despised even by progressive
leftists who are non Muslim, not to mention the feelings of antipathy
Muslims here in Canada have towards him. I called him one time to tell
him I disagreed with something he said and he launched into a tirade
about me supporting Taliban. This is what he does all the time -
accusses people with no evidence and he gets off with it. I cannot
understand why he is taken seriously by the media. He has no abililty
at all to read the pulse of the Muslim community here in Canada.

Here are two of our most recent editorials:


But do any of these views get published or mentioned elsewhere? No!
The media is more interested in the statements or positions of one
single person. This is unfair and dishonest reporting and does not
reflect the reality or the diversity of what our community is.

There are radical extremists out there who want to foment conflict
hatred. Dr. Elmasry is not one of them regardless of what you think. I
never read anything in your columns regarding the daily injustices and
humiliations of the Palestinian people, as documented by numerous
human rights organizations, at the hands of Israeli occupation forces.
Are the people children of a lesser god?

When you know the political background on Flemming Rose, and there are
numerous articles on this topic, you will know what his motivations
were on publishing those cartoons. Is this what we want? They use the
pre-existing Islamaphobia in the west to create further conflict. One
can cry freedom, but will this freedom, when it is used to defame
others, serve the good of humanity?

Here is an interesting article in yesterday's Globe and Mail on the
history of political cartoons in Canada:


Montreal Muslim News Network -
Send us your feeback at:

My reply:
I can understand that radicals like Tarek Fatah and Irshad Manji do not speak for many Muslims. What alarms me is that no one in the Muslim community, has, to my knowledge, spoken out publicly in support of Prof. Salim Mansur, a genuine Muslim democrat. Has your news organization ever given him an opportunity to express his views?
You wrote:
You seem to have left the impression that Dr. Elmsary (sic) is the
personification of the Muslim community here in Canada and that his
views on one issue categorize or label him in all other issues also
and, by extension, the Muslim community in general.
Yet your editorial on Feb. 17 states the following with regard to the infamous Imam Qureshi:
"He certainly does not speak for me or anyone I know and respect," stated CIC national president Dr. Mohamed Elmasry earlier today in a press release.

Elmasry further stated that: "What has been said and done by this irresponsible individual is totally against the teachings of the Qur'an, which condemns the taking of human lives. On behalf of all Canadian Muslims, the CIC repudiates and utterly rejects any call for death or injury to those charged with insulting our faith. Only God is ultimate arbiter and judge of those who do wrong."
With this report, you have confirmed my impression that Dr. Elmasry is a prominent leader among Muslims in Canada who heads an organization that purports, albeit falsely, to speak "on behalf of all Canadian Muslims." Do you disagree with any of his controversial statements that I cited in the column? Am I wrong to conclude that most Canadian Muslims either support the viewpoint expressed in those statements or are loath to express their criticism of Elmasry in public?
Rahman's evasive response:
I honestly don't think there is any group or organization that speaks
for every single Muslim either in Canada or the world. I don't think
even Dr. Elmasry or CAIR-CAN has ever made that claim about
themselves. I know the media would like to find such a group so they
can then tag our community down, but it is not going to happen in my
or your lifetime. We are just too diverse. CIC, CAIR-CAN and other
groups have levels of support and we post their communiques, but there
are others in our community who do not like their approach at all. We
have people, like myself, who are very leftist in orientation, while
others are more right-wing and actually supported Harper for PM. You
have got to remember, our community consists of people from well over
a hundred different nations speaking numerous languages and various
levels of education background and political involvement. Most Muslims
in Canada I know are not even interested in politics other than
discussing it in passing and then moving on to other issues. If
anything, there is a general political apathy in our community, much
like the general population. (I think the only exception tot his would
be the Palestinians who are always active. I have never witnessed
anything like these people.) In short, we are not that much different
from the wider society except for a few superficial things like dress,
food etc. We want t good and peaceful life like all other Canadians
but continually feel the sting of collective blame when some Muslims
commit misdeeds or utter an inappropriate statement. We always feel
pressured to isse statements of comdemnation even though we have
nothing to do with what those people or groups did. If we say nothing
then this means we support them and are, by extension, guilty. No
other group is singled out this way like we are. I am sure not every
single Christian is responsible for this:

or this:


and that most certainly Christians not asked to issue statements
condemning it either. As a wag the dog strategy just take a look at
the recent statements of British Defense Secretary John Reid at:

They kill and tortue Muslims and then call us barbarians and terrorists!!!!

BTW, here is the full transcript of Dr. Elmasry's comments we posted
on our website for general information:

You can ask the London community what they think about Salim Mansur. A
good place to start would be Meer Sahib at:

I personally don't read his articles as they are too divorced from
reality and extremely right wing. Anti Muslim groups like his material
a lot and quote him quite often.

Montreal Muslim News Network -
Send us your feeback at:

My comment:
At this point, having repeatedly failed to draw out Yahya's views on Elmasry, I gave up. Meer Sahib is a prominent Muslim in London, Ontario, and a former member of the board of The London Muslim Mosque. Judging from his latest article in The Montreal Muslim News, you can well imagine the opinion he holds of my courageous Muslim friend, Prof. Salim Mansur:


by Meer Sahib -

Feb 27, 2006

Dear Brothers / Sisters:

Most of us realize that the Sept 11 Attack, blamed on Arabs, was the beginning of the “Muslim Holocaust”. The Western governments, manipulated by the Zionists, have used this pretext to murder hundreds of thousands of Arabs and Muslims, destroy those nations, take control of their resources and build military bases there. Many Arabs and Muslims in the West have been jailed and tortured and quite a few have died under torture. Draconian laws affecting Arabs and Muslims have also been enacted, and more are expected.

What have Muslims done to counteract this false allegation? Virtually nothing. But, fortunately, many westerners of conscience – scientists, professors, structural and aeronautical engineers, former fighter pilots, FBI veterans, journalists and so on, have gone through mountains of evidences and come to the conclusion that the 911 attack was not possible by Al-Qaeda, but could have been an ‘inside job’. For this, they provide logical, scientific, and engineering based proofs, which no person of intellect can deny. In a way, it is good that this work is being done by non-Muslims, as Western masses are likely to accept their findings more readily. These researchers have written many books, set up websites and produced documentaries with visual and sound effects, and conducted numerous lectures, conferences and so on.

There are also some Christians who have taken the troubles to distribute these documentaries (DVDs) free of charge by mail. Shouldn’t we admire them for their commitment to truth? This is indeed a noble act by them, but where are we Muslims? The least we can do is to disseminate the knowledge, so that more and more people will come to know the truth and insha Allah, one day, the real perpetrators may be caught. To my great distress, I find the vast majority of Muslims continue to believe the US administration’s 911 story. They are then taken by surprise when they see the facts presented in these documentaries – for example the BBC documentary (listed below) proves that Al-Qaeda is a non-existent, phantom, imaginary enemy, invented by the Neo-cons, and, the documentary “In Plane Site” proves that the Pentagon was NOT hit by a 747 and so on. These documentaries also ask numerous questions on the US Administration’s 911 story, to which no answers have been provided by the government.

I was very pleased to see a good number of brothers and sisters who were impressed by the documentaries, purchasing several copies to send them to their loved ones back home.

Brothers and sisters, let us make this our personal jihad – the jihad of Education. I have spent hundreds of hours collecting valuable data, learned the computer programs which helps me produce DVDs using such data, editing, and putting them together, so that others don’t have to spend so much time to get these information.

The mainstream media has hidden this information from the masses. Therefore, it is our duty to make this information available to Muslims and non-Muslims. Here is how YOU can help:

  1. Obtain these videos, choose the ones you like, copy and mail them to prominent members of your city – this could be the MPPs, MPs, City Councillors, priests, librarians, school teachers, colleges, newspaper editors, columnists, radio and TV broadcasters, police chiefs, and so on. Students can share the information with fellow students.

  2. Encourage your friends and relatives to join you in this effort, so that they too feel proud to fulfill their duty.

  3. Always send a short note, as people do not like to receive anything anonymous. You can include a note like this : “Dear friend: In modern history, there has been nothing as profound as the September 11 Terror Attack, yet the media has not informed us the truth nor done its duty to ask probing questions to uncover the facts. I hope you will find the enclosed DVDs helpful in unravelling the mystery surrounding the 911 Attack. Your fellow citizen (your name).

  4. I recommend item GC-1 to be one of the DVDs you mail, as this was authored by a well respected Canadian journalist, Mr. Barry Zwicker. I have an ‘honor-based’ agreement with him to mail him $10 for every DVD copied (originals sell for $35). So, please send him $10.00 for each copy you may sell. His em address is:

  5. To cover the cost of production, please enclose a donation of $5 for each DVD you order ($10 for item GC-1).

  6. For those of you who cannot afford to make the donation, but are willing to make copies and mail to prominent people, I will mail the DVDs free of charge.

Brothers and Sisters, we cannot bury our heads in the sand and hope the problem would go away. It is time that EACH ONE of us did something concrete. Don’t expect others to do your job. If we failed, it will be only ourselves to blame, when matters get worse. Believe me, things are likely to get much worse.

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