Are the 17 Muslim men arrested in Toronto on June 3, 2006 innocent until proven guilty? Theoretically, yes. But practically, they are absolutely not. Perceptions are more powerful than the reality. Much damage from these arrests has already been done, and it continues to mount. Opportunists among Muslims and extremists among non-Muslims are pushing their agendas harder than ever.
Can we hope that when, or if, any of them are proven guilty in a court of law, Canada’s Muslims will not be found guilty by association? The answer, again, is absolutely not. We see with our own eyes what the mainstream media has been doing since the arrests. From the top of the political leadership to the editorial boards of most “mainstream” newspapers, everyone is simultaneously cementing the “us” and “them” mindset, and mainstreaming the rancid notions of “Islamism” and “Islamists.”
The answer to the commonly asked question, why were a few Canadian Muslim youth trying to make a political statement using violence instead of the peaceful means available in a liberal democracy like Canada? is simple and straightforward. They are not yet guilty. It is wrong to assume that Canadian Muslims were trying to make a political statement through violence. Even if they are found guilty, we are in no position to uncover the scope of the operation behind the arrests, which clearly involved the provision by government agents of all the incriminating physical evidence. It is a clear case of entrapment.
It is naive to expect that the justice system will accord these individuals transparency and due process. Justice can never beat such meticulously crafted entrapment operations. When you follow an individual, or group of individuals, with the intent is to frame them; when you have the means to provide tonnes of explosives; when you have a whole machinery behind you that is determined to gather evidence to incriminate your targets in a court of law, your victims will never be able to prove that they were lured into thinking about a crime.
There is no denying that the alleged 17 will not have said and done what is being alleged. So, the questions are: Who is the instigator? Who is the motivator? Who is providing logistical support? We need to remember that the suspects are teenagers and men in their 20s–”they are immature and emotional, and thus clearly prone to entrapment. The delivery of three tonnes of ammonium nitrate to the group was part of an undercover police sting operation. There are clearly forces involved which are keeping their motivation alive and facilitating planning for the crime.
This brings us to ask the right questions. Why are a few Muslims, in Canada or in any other country, prone to being turned, with little motivation or facilitation, into criminals? Why can’t they resist being tempted into committing a heinous crime against humanity? Is it simply a social phenomenon, that they are not fully integrated in society?
It would be naive to blame Islam or a “poisonous interpretation” of Islamic sources. It is equally wrong when Islamophobes jump to the conclusion that the problem exists because Islam has not been sufficiently modernized. Apologists and opportunists on the Muslim side offer the irrelevant argument that minorities are often excluded from full participation in the life of the host country and as a result become highly self-conscious social units whose sense of belonging to a group is coloured by the feeling of being distinct from society’s dominant majority. Is this enough for one to forget the basic teachings of his religion and prepare to commit heinous crimes against humanity? Lack of assimilation and integration is a just a ruse to push personal agendas.
The other argument, used by almost all shades of immigrant Muslims is that Muslims import extremist religious and political ideologies from their (or their parents’) countries of origin. As a result there has been division, fragmentation, increased isolation, and in a few instances, destructive fanaticism.
The problems that Muslims are facing all over the world did not arise overnight. They have deep historical roots. The most important is the never-ending colonialism. The pathetic situations of Palestine, Iraq, and Afghanistan are no different than those of Pakistan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and other Muslims countries. Some countries are under direct military occupation and some are reeling under de facto colonization. The colonizers never gave their colonies full independence. They just performed a strategic withdrawal. Most Muslim states are ruled by puppets working directly or indirectly for their colonial masters abroad.
The question is, what has this to do with “terrorism” in the West? The answer is simple. It develops a mindset. Just as none of the “mainstream” newspapers see anything but Islam as the root cause of the problem after the arrests in Toronto, the Muslim mind sees nothing but the lack of freedom and independence in their home countries as the root cause. Then, just as non-Muslims have extremist minds among them–”minds which create lies to justify wars of aggression and genocidal sanctions which take the lives of millions–”Muslims also have weak-minded individuals among them who are prone to reacting with violence.
If you approach these weak-minded, immature, and emotional Muslims and provide them the opportunity to react, they will definitely react. It is a part of human nature. Not everyone is alike. This is how some minds react. If a soldier in Iraq feels himself on a noble mission when he massacres women and children and tortures innocents to death, so may any Muslim feel he is on a noble mission to exact revenge for all the wrongs to Muslims.
We need to address the root cause of this mindset in the Muslim and non-Muslim world. Of course, the solution to the problems Muslims are facing today is not to bomb innocents in Western cities. Similarly, the solution to what the non-Muslim extremists consider a problem is not found in the wars of aggression, the occupations, and the never-ending colonization of the Muslim world. The solution lies in checking progress of colonialism, which is turning fascists with each new adventure since it started “helping” the little brown brother abroad.
Irrespective of the how much we discuss the issue of “terrorism” and regardless of the band-aid measures we take, the problem will persist as long as its root causes give extremists in both the Muslim and non-Muslim world the justification to commit crimes against humanity. For example, the extremists in the United States backed Israel’s right to kill children in the name of defence, after Israel itself admitted (before exonerating itself) that the ship that fired on women and children at the beach was not under attack.
Many of the “brown-skinned peoples cooking strange foods and not exactly maintaining Germanic standards of hygiene” are not in the West by choice. They would leave in a second if the oppressors in their homelands were no longer supported and sustained by colonialists in the West. The problem is not the lack of Muslim assimilation and integration. The British never integrated into South Asian society and culture despite staying there for close to 150 years. The invaders and occupiers from Europe never integrated into the local cultures of the Americas or Australia. Instead they harassed and killed many of the native people, and limited the remainder to reservations. In some cases, children were forcefully removed from their families to assimilate them into the culture and values of the invaders.
The warmongers, the prophets of hate, and Islamophobes of different kinds must make us believe that the problem is because of “us” and “them.” But none of “us” are totally innocent, and none of the “them” are totally responsible for all crimes and problems. We all have our extremists. We need to address the roots which trigger these extremists into action.
On the part of Muslims, it can be said with certainty that no amount of cover-up can hide the facts–”related to past and present colonial adventures, oppression, and the interference in Muslims’ internal affairs–”from the Muslim mind. These facts will not only trigger the emotional, immature, uneducated, and extremist minds among Muslims in the West, but they will push even the sanest minds (which are at the forefront of bearing the brunt of illegitimate wars and occupations) into reaction.
On the part of non-Muslims, it is the responsibility of the peace-loving intellectuals and activists to step back, relax, and find out what is pushing some of them into “civilizing” missions in the Muslim world in particular. Why is it that the Western extremists’ crimes against humanity, their genocides, and their terrorism are not considered problems? Why has a majority in the West assumed that the more than 400 years of colonial adventures and illegitimate wars have had absolutely no side effects or repercussions?
Of course, every resident in the West needs to stand behind their security forces and governments in their desire to protect their countries. The question is, will the Western village stand up and answer the aforementioned questions and start hitting the beast in the head? The cosmetic measures suggested by Muslim opportunists and non-Muslim extremist are not going to bring any change at all.
For a real change, the first step the Western public can take is to force the extremists among them to reconsider the de facto colonization and start a real withdrawal from all Muslim countries, because the West is in the position of power at the moment. The colonialists strategic withdrawal of the 20th century has given rise to new problems. The Western public has to force the colonizers to consider a real withdrawal, and a return to Muslims the right to self-determination and self-rule. Without taking these real steps, it is impossible to keep the extremist minds from committing heinous crimes against humanity.
The focus on Muslim extremists alone will lead to more entrapments–”some allowed to reach the bloody conclusion as we witnessed on July 7, 2005 bombing in England and 9/11 in the U.S. and some entrapments mercifully wrapped up before they reach the massacre stage as in the case in Toronto. The war on symptoms will lead to more wars abroad, to mass arrests and internments and deportations at home. A free hand to Western extremists will ultimately lead to Muslim holocaust and a mass exodus from the West in the not too distant future. But none of these will bring peace. None. Period. The solution must begin with a war on the mindset that justifies colonizing and “civilizing” the Muslim world. A realistic assessment suggest that the Western colonial and totalitarian adventures continue with the same fervor as when they started hundreds of years ago.
Racial profiling, assimilation strategies, smart and forced integrations, ban on immigration, deporting “extremists,” more entrapments, more security certificates and more wars for democracy (see Afghanistan and Iraq) will never make any difference as long as the extremists in the West are not shown a mirror and stopped from their crimes against humanity, which date back to the beginning of European colonization in 1492. The trouble will continue as long as Western puppets are imposed upon Muslim masses. By not giving Muslims the right to self-rule and self-determination, Western extremists are only digging deeper hole for themselves and their victims.
. Toronto Star, June 4, 2006.
. In the wake of Israel’s killing women and children at the beach. “US: Israel has right to defend itself,” Jerusalem Post, June 9, 2006.
. Daniel Pipes, “The Muslims are coming, the Muslims are coming,” National Review, November 19, 1990.