Tarek Fatah and Iqra Khalid: two Pakistani born Muslims who came to Canada to pursue their respective careers in the political sphere – yet both with very different goals.
Iqra Khalid, the MP who presented the Canadian Motion M-103 earlier this year, was heavily criticised at the time for the obtuse content of the document – for failing to define the ‘Islamophobia’ which it condemned and for the threat posed to freedom of speech in Canada.
Khalid also faced scrutiny when it came out that a York University Muslim group of which she was formerly President, had been photographed distributing books on campus which advocate and justify the beating of women by way of Islamic doctrine.
“The purpose of beating her is only to discipline and never retaliation or with desire to hurt by any means.”
Tarek Fatah has taken a very different path.
Founder of the Muslim Canadian Congress, outspoken supporter of secular and liberal values and staunch opponent of M-103; Fatah left Pakistan for Saudi Arabia, and finally settled in Canada in 1987.
While working as a journalist in Pakistan, he was twice imprisoned for the content of his writings and eventually banned from working in his chosen field.
Since moving to Canada, Fatah has been heavily involved in both politics and journalism in the country, and famously broke with the Ontario New Democratic Party over their stances on Islamic youth and Islamophobia.
Fatah has long been an outspoken opponent of Islamic states and what he sees as “the Islam of Mullahs, not the Islam of Allah”.
He is a lifelong critic of the Iranian and Pakistani regimes, and has stated his belief in Zionism and the need for a Jewish state.
For his views (particularly on the separation of church and state and acceptance of gay marriage) he has received widespread condemnation from many Muslims less liberal.
In February 2017, the Hindustani Times reported that a price had been put on Tarek Fatah’s head – quite literally requesting for a beheading.
An Islamic group took offence at the content of the ‘Fateh ka Fatwa’ television program hosted by Fatah, and called it un-Islamic:
“In his programme, he claims that it is not required to wear a burqa.”
As a noisy critic of the recently passed M-103, Fatah spoke last week at the Muslims Against M-103 gathering.
During his speech, his points were brilliantly elaborated and no prisoners taken.
The most important feature of the talk was surely the insistence that all traditions require criticism, and that Islam should be no different: “Sometimes my Hindu and Christian friends make jokes about it [religion] – except when I do, I can be killed.”
Tarek also pointed out the fundamental problems which exist in all Muslim nations, noting that: “There are six million Syrian refugees, and not one of them wants to go to Saudi Arabia.”
And by the same token comes the crux of his argument:
“Islamophobia is a fear of Islam: the point is that there are a million Muslims who came to Canada because they had a fear of Islam!”
Fatah is certainly right in saying that Muslims fleeing the Islamic world is no coincidence, and is an indictment on the controlling, repressive and often totalitarian culture which they are born into.
This point is expanded when Fatah picks out Saudi Arabia – an Islamic nation famous for it’s human rights abuses and suppression of liberalism and secularism: “There are six million Syrian refugees, and not one of them wants to go to Saudi Arabia.”
During the speech, Fatah also made reference to the hypocrisy that during the debating of the motion in March of this year, it was simultaneously being reported that a Motreal mosque was home to an Imam who called for the killing of Jews.
The motion certainly failed to mention anti-Semitism in the way it did ‘Islamophobia’ – despite the prevalence of anti-Semitic crime in the country, anti-Semitic preaching in Muslim communities and in particular, suppression of Zionist movements on university campuses.
Fatah called the 11 Muslim MP’s who voted in favour of the motion “disgraceful” and spoke of their lack of backbone.
The far from ‘pure’ or exclusive history of Islam was also reiterated as a means to point out the nonsense of such Abrahamic cultural divisions:
“It [Islam] is fundamentally Judaism planted on Arab, pagan culture.”
Finally, Tarek Fatah condemned the motion in it’s wilful ignorance towards the seeping into Canadian culture of Islamic extremism, stating that the motion must not become law proper and suggesting that “the word Islamophobia be replaced with Islamo-Fascism”.
Fatah criticised a whole host of other aspects of the country’s spineless approach to the issue of Islam in Canada; such as the granting of charitable status to heavily politicised mosques and the welcoming of migrants despite the sex crimes they commit upon arrival.
The most important points made were those relating to the concept of Islamophobia itself, however.
Fatah pointed out that there are many Muslims who admire and defend values other than those distinctly fascistic ones popular in Middle Eastern theocracies – citing the difference between the Soviet-Muslim army of Tajikistan which was vital in the defeat of the Nazi army at the battle of Stalingrad, and the admirers of National Socialism such as adherents of Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran.
To challenge the views and beliefs of Muslims is in no way wrong, and the fear of offence or condemnation should not trump our right to free speech.
Above all then, remember this quote on the concept of ‘Islamophobia’ from Tarek Fatah’s M-103 speech:
“The crime of Islamophobia is a code word for the crime of apostasy – which is a code word for blasphemy.”