CIC OP-ED's

Date: Mar 24, 2004 - Safar 3, 1425,       Volume: 7     Issue: 36


E-mail Responses


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Re: THE KHADRS ON TV: ONCE MORE, FANNING THE FLAMES OF ISLAMOPHOBIA? By Dr. Mohamed Elmasry, The Toronto Star, March 16, 2004

Assalaamu Alaikum.

Thanks for a courageous article that confronts the dangers of fanatism. The fanatical fringe lived in a world fed and sheltered by perverted beliefs, deviated thought, and practices and sometimes superstitions. The chronicle of the Khadr family is an example of how religion can abused as a result of the indoctrination of extremism. Quite often, it is quotation from radical and virulent speeches against the West that convey the impression that Islam is inherently and by its nature linked to aggressiveness, violence and war. This image has become the stereotype of Islam itself. Nothing can be further from the truth.

The problem is also compounded by the attitude of some Muslims in the West; their rejection of the West is often conveyed without any subtlety or thoughtful nuances ... which is most likely to confirm and reinforce non-Muslims' prejudices. To those who share similar hatred for this country, my suggestion to them is move to your "Islamic country." When we hear intolerant speeches, we should condemn them, make it our duty to politely approach the speaker and protest. Rhetoric soothing to the emotions rather than the mind, gets the nod of approval, often some loud cry of 'takhbir' as the 'us' versus 'them' excites the emotions. Self-criticism and introspection are always painful; (but ) it is time to feel and welcome such pain.

Bibi Khan Markham, Ont

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Re: THE KHADRS ON TV...

Dr. Elmasry, this is a most thoughtful commentary. Hope you will consider speaking out this way!

Bev Delong

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Reg: THE KHADRS ON TV: ONCE MORE, FANNING THE FLAMES OF ISLAMAPHOBIA? By Dr. Mohamed Elmasry, The Toronto Star, March 16, 2004

I just wanted to write to you to say how much I enjoyed your article in yesterday's Toronto Star in the Opinion section. In fact, everybody in the house has read it, and appreciated your straightforward article.

Keep up the good work.

Sincerely,
Carol Urquhart

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Re: THE KHADRS ON TV...

The Islamophobes are always complaining that Muslims do not speak out against the fanatics among them -- your article is an example that that is not true.

Linda Belanger

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Re: CIC MEETS WITH FEDERAL FOREIGN MINISTER...

Good work. Wish you success and strength to persue.

Dr. Naiyer Habib

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Re: "THE SLAVE NAMED BILAL: A FORGOTTEN PAGE IN THE HISTORY OF ISLAM"

Dear Ms. Valiante:

I have read your article "The Slave Named Bilal" in The Friday Bulletin dated February 12, 2004, published by the Canadian Islamic Congress. I am writing to express concern over one of the points you make in that article.

In the course of your argument about tolerance and race relations, you state:

"Most notably, the Qur'an rejects the Jewish concept of racial superiority; that is, the status of their being a chosen people. This concept is not only racist, but directly contradicts the Qur'anic worldview of racial equality. Unfortunately, the Jewish idea of being "chosen" not only institutionalized racism, but also set a terrible precedent for human history in general, where racial superiority claims became the norm, the divisive standard by which all others, those not like us were to be judged and treated."

This statement repeats one of the most classic and damaging canards about the Jewish religion. Islamic community groups such as your own have often been at pains to counter false and sometimes malicious portrayals of Islamic doctrine, explaining for example, quite rightly, that the concept of jihad does not mean that Islam endorses endless religious warfare. Such a notion only caricatures a rich and complex faith, no matter who one cites as the source.

When you so badly misinterpret the concept of "the chosen people," you do a similar disservice, with similarly hurtful consequences, to Jews. The point of this Biblical phrase is that God and the Jewish people have chosen a particular relationship in which to interact. Never in the Torah is this portrayed as an exclusive relationship; other faith communities have their own relationship with God. The Bible is replete with stories of prophets being sent to both the Israelites and the other nations in order to prompt each to live in accordance with their own religious and moral code.

Your article does more, however, than express a theological misunderstanding. In the above quoted sentences, you go on to assert that it is the Jews that are somehow responsible for having institutionalized racism in the world. To even say such a thing is to fundamentally misuse anti-racism education; indeed, it deploys a purportedly anti-racist message in the cause of its own prejudice. As a spokesperson for a Canadian religious community that itself suffers the prejudice of others, you should know better.

I hasten to add that citing the late Israel Shahak, an Israeli professor of organic chemistry, does not make your comments any less false. What is most telling about Shahak’s writings, as Ha’aretz pointed out in a July 6, 2001 article, is that they are found mostly "on Web sites devoted to anti-Semitism, neo-Nazism,..." etc. The article adds, "it is a sad fact that ...his legacy may live on only among those whom he would be the first to despise and deplore."

Yours truly,

Dr. Rachael Turkienicz Canadian Jewish Congress, Ontario region

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Editor's Note:

Dear Rachel:

Thank you for your comments. I am sorry about the interpretation of the term "chosen people" in my article. It is, as you aptly point out, inconsistent with its meaning in the scriptures of the Old Testament. The distinction you have made is a very important one and perhaps better delivers the point I was trying to make -- despite our respective beliefs regarding the special covenants that we may have with God, whether they be derived from scripture or simply from our basic beliefs in God, such beliefs entitle no one to claims of religious or racial superiority. Indeed, the very nature of our common God precludes it.

We usually include our readers' comments in CIC's Friday Bulletins and would be pleased to include yours. If you agree, then can you please forward the electronic copy to my e-mail address

With best regards,
Wahida Valiante