Mus­lims fear Que­bec at­tack could be har­bin­ger of more vi­o­lence

Ex­trem­ists at home and across the globe are in­spired by Trump-style di­vi­sive pol­i­tics

The Hamilton Spectator - - FRONT PAGE - RAZA KHAN Dr. Raza Khan is a Hamilton-born and raised fam­ily physi­cian. He is the spokesper­son for the Mus­lim Coun­cil of Greater Hamilton.

Dr. Khan poses the time­less ques­tion: When will we ever learn?

Five times daily, when Mus­lims turn their faces to­ward Mecca, they bow their heads and qui­etly whis­per the Words of Al­lah in salah (prayer). They lit­er­ally con­nect with Al­lah (God). Many be­come obliv­i­ous to the sur­round­ings around them as they solemnly glo­rify the Creator. Dur­ing this five to 10 min­utes, a Mus­lim is very vul­ner­a­ble.

This les­son was painfully demon­strated this week when a 27-year-old non-Mus­lim Québé­cois gun­man al­legedly killed six Mus­lim wor­ship­pers at the Que­bec Cul­tural Is­lamic Cen­tre in a case where Mus­lims them­selves be­came the vic­tims of ter­ror­ism. They were shot in their backs, in cow­ardly fash­ion, while ac­tively en­gaged in this holy state of prayer.

In the time of Prophet Muham­mad (peace be upon him), con­gre­ga­tional prayers were held in shifts when in the bat­tle­field, with one group of Mus­lims stand­ing guard while the other group prayed. Some­times they would have to de­lay their prayer al­to­gether while they de­fended them­selves in bat­tle.

In mod­ern times, if Mus­lims were to re­sort to tak­ing up arms to guard pray­ing Mus­lims in mosques, they would likely be called ter­ror­ists. Prayers are held five times daily, 24-7, at all mosques, mak­ing roundthe-clock po­lice pres­ence at all mosques im­prac­ti­cal.

Re­ally? Has it come to this in our beloved Canada?

The cor­rect re­ac­tion to these tragedies as hu­man be­ings is for us to pull together and sup­port each other in peace­ful sol­i­dar­ity. Count­less Cana­di­ans, Amer­i­cans, Euro­peans, and fel­low hu­mans world­wide did just this in the hours since the at­tack. Prime Min­is­ter Trudeau de­nounced the at­tack and re­as­sured Canada’s Mus­lims in the early hours af­ter the tragedy, as did Rona Am­brose and Tom Mul­cair. Tributes and con­do­lences came in rapid fire from Que­bec Premier Phillippe Couil­lard, On­tario Premier Kath­leen Wynn, as well as Pope Fran­cis, New York City Mayor Bill de Bla­sio and even French Pres­i­dent François Hol­lande.

A mul­ti­tude of vig­ils have been held across Canada to sup­port those who were killed, in­clud­ing here in Hamilton. Nearly ev­ery mosque across Canada has been smoth­ered with flow­ers and cards and let­ters of sup­port and web­site-wishes from non-Mus­lim well-wish­ers and sup­port­ers, even though it wasn’t even their mosque that was at­tacked. I have had non-Mus­lims apol­o­gize to me for the at­tack in Que­bec City they had noth­ing to do with.

The sup­port has been over­whelm­ing and kind. The sup­port has been Cana­dian.

Clearly, no one — Mus­lim, Jew, Chris­tian, Hindu, Bud­dhist, black, white, or other — de­serves to be killed, par­tic­u­larly while en­gaged in the solemn act of wor­ship­ping God.

Sadly, many Mus­lims fear this may be the har­bin­ger of more at­tacks to come. In­deed, Trump’s as­ton­ish­ing rise to the U.S. pres­i­dency has clearly em­bold­ened the big­ots and racists both in Amer­ica and, ap­par­ently, now here in Canada as well. Trump’s flurry of ex­ec­u­tive or­ders in his first week in of­fice, cul­mi­nat­ing in last weekend’s out­ra­geous, chaotic and fam­ily-split­ting anti-Mus­lim refugee ban, dashed all doubts as to whether Trump was se­ri­ous in his an­tiMus­lim cam­paign prom­ises, or if these were just bom­bas­tic mea­sures to gar­ner votes.

Right­ists at home and across the globe are in­spired by Trump-style di­vi­sive pol­i­tics. Kelly Leitch and other Con­ser­va­tive lead­er­ship can­di­dates are just chomp­ing at the bit to take on Justin Trudeau in the next fed­eral elec­tion, and we will watch for Trump-style pol­i­tics of fear and di­vi­sion.

In­deed, in the Nether­lands, anti-Is­lam/ anti-im­mi­gra­tion leader Geert Wilders of the Party for Free­dom, also known as the “Dutch Don­ald Trump,” is on course to win the gen­eral elec­tion in March. Wilders has pledged to close Nether­lands’ bor­ders and shut down mosques rid­ing the Euro­pean wave of anti-refugee sen­ti­ment.

This is down­right scary. Al­most any op­por­tunist right­ist politi­cian, stok­ing anti-Is­lam and anti-im­mi­grant fear in the pop­u­lace, can the­o­ret­i­cally ride this wave into power. What is com­ing next? Will they prom­ise to in­sti­tute Mus­lim in­tern­ment camps as was done to the Ja­panese? Will politi­cians be elected on a plat­form to close all mosques? All it will take is a change in gov­ern­ment: elected by “we the peo­ple,” the “will of the peo­ple” can be a fickle crea­ture.

When will hu­mankind learn from his­tory’s mis­takes? Lis­ten, every­one. Civ­i­liza­tion needs to move for­ward, not back­wards.

For the time be­ing, we know that the world com­mu­nity has lost six pre­cious souls, in­clud­ing Azzed­dine Soufi­ane, 57 (a gro­cer, father of three), Khaled Belka­cemi, 60 (a Laval Univer­sity pro­fes­sor), Ab­delkrim Hassen, 41 (a gov­ern­ment IT worker, father of 3), Aboubaker Thabti 44, and Ma­madou Tanou Barry and Ibrahima Barry — two Guinean na­tion­als.

May Al­lah grant them all par­adise and com­fort to their fam­i­lies, and keep Canada uni­fied, strong and free — ameen.



Hun­dreds of Hamiltonians turned out to sup­port the lo­cal Mus­lim com­mu­nity af­ter Sun­day’s shoot­ings in Que­bec. Mus­lim leader Raza Khan writes that many Mus­lims worry the vi­o­lence could be a har­bin­ger of things to come.

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