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Canada: CAIR-CAN, The NCCM and the ‘Islamic Victimhood Narrative’

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Originally published at Gatestone Institute.

While Canadians exercised their freedom of expression by venting both positive and negative comments about Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s recent trip to Israel, the West Bank and Jordan, a huge controversy has been created by a Muslim organization, which appears to expose the attitude of most Muslims towards Israel and a rise in anti-Semitism. Had this trip been to any other country, probably there would have been no response.

As among those accompanying the Prime Minister were a number of rabbis, a Muslim organization, formerly CAIR-CAN (Council on American-Islamic Relations – Canada), but now known as the National Council of Canadian Muslims [NCCM] , objected to one in particular, Rabbi Mendel Kaplan, who last year had invited to Toronto Pamela Geller, who the NCCM had said would spread hate.

The Prime Minister’s spokesman, Jason MacDonald, dismissed the objection. “We will not,” he said, “take seriously criticism from an organization with documented ties to a terrorist organization such as Hamas.”

In response, Ihsaan Gardee, NCCM’s Executive Director commented that MacDonald’s statement was “categorically false, offensive and defamatory.”

Currently, NCCM/CAIR-CAN has announced it wants an apology from the Prime Minister’s Office and will move ahead with a lawsuit if they do not get one.

“To say that our organization has illegal affiliations,” Mr. Gardee said at a press conference, “is deeply offensive to us and to Canadians of all faiths and backgrounds and only serves to reinforce ugly stereotypes about Canadian Muslims.”

He does not, however, speak for our organization, The Council for Muslims Facing Tomorrow, and many other Muslims we know.

Two interesting points emerged, however: One is that this protest was never really about free speech — it was about Israel. The other is that NCCM/CAIR-CAN, a Muslim organization with Arabs as part of it, knew about the Prime Minister’s visit to the Middle East, so one would hope they would have given some deep thought to ideas about peace-making and perhaps offered suggestions to Mr. Harper on whom to meet or how to proceed. But no, like a pack of predatory hunting animals, they honed in on the weakest link in the herd, an act acceptable under Canada’s laws of freedom of expression. What does Pamela Geller have to do with the Prime Minister’s trip to the Middle East anyway? Besides, anti-Semitic hate-mongering speakers are invited by Muslim groups to Canada on a regular basis.

Incidentally, while NCCM/CAIR-CAN were so focused on their angst against Israel, at stops in the West Bank and Jordan, Harper in his meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas pledged $66 million for economic aid, and security and humanitarian assistance. In Jordan, the Prime Minister committed more than $250 million in aid, largely to help the nation cope with the fallout of the Syrian conflict, notably an influx of more than 500,000 refugees fleeing the violence.

Meanwhile NCCM/CAIR-CAN are falling over themselves to say that they have no connection with the Washington-based, Hamas-linked organization, The Council on American-Islamic Relations [CAIR] which was founded in 1994 by three leaders of the Islamic Association of Palestine [IAP] — at the time, a Hamas front in the United States.

When we take a closer look at the details and links, not in the least NCCM’s own declaration in its name-change announcement that “We remain the same organization,” it leaves little reason to doubt that NCCM remains, in most substantial respects, CAIR-CAN. This is what emerges upon closer study:

  • NCCM/CAIR-CAN is the Canadian chapter of the Saudi-funded, Washington, DC-based Council on American-Islamic Relations, which was designated by the United States Justice Department an unindicted co-conspirator for the purposes of the largest terror-funding trial in US history, the Holy Land Foundation criminal prosecution. The prosecution was considered extremely successful, and achieved widespread convictions.
  • When confronted about their name, NCCM/CAIR-CAN associates have sometimes said that their organization is wholly independent of the American mother group. They point to NCCM/CAIR-CAN having its own board of directors and being incorporated in Canada. That claim, however, has been defeated by considerable evidence. Most revealing was the discovery and publication of a December 2003 affidavit sworn for the Ontario Superior Court by NCCM/CAIR-CAN founder and then-Chair, Dr. Sheema Khan, in the course of a trademark dispute. This document states categorically that CAIR-CAN (and now, by implication, NCCM) is under the direction and control of the American CAIR organization.
  • According to extensive research done by an anti-terrorism expert in Canada, who has been following the patterns of CAIR-CAN/NCCM for over a decade, but who is currently under threat, the CAIR/NCCM/CAIR-CAN group has had a record of propagating what is commonly referred to as the “Islamic Victimhood Narrative” — exaggerated claims of wide-ranging persecution of Muslims by mainstream Canadians and Americans. As mainstream Muslims have indicated, such claims are not merely statistically inaccurate, but divisive and potentially dangerous. The hazard is discernible in that a common thread through various Islamist terror plots and attacks in North America, has been the perpetrators’ misguided insistence that aggression was justified “in defense of Islam.” The methodology of NCCM/CAIR-CAN’s 2005 “survey” of Muslim perceptions was considered especially faulty in its distortions.
  • CAIR and NCCM/CAIR-CAN have been prominent in promoting the term “Islamophobia,” an expression held by many moderate Muslims to have been contrived some years ago by U.S. Muslim Brotherhood affiliates at a meeting at the Northern Virginia International Institute for Islamic Thought, to silence both Muslims and non-Muslims concerned about radical Islam, and to deflect attention away from the activities of the Islamists.

It is no wonder that Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird directed Canadians to the internet: “I’d encourage any Canadian to Google the group in question,” he said, “and do some research on their own and come to their own conclusions.”

About the Author: Author of Their Jihad... Not My Jihad, Raheel Raza is a public speaker, Consultant for Interfaith and Intercultural diversity, documentary film maker, freelance journalist and founder of SAMA (Sacred Arts ad Music Alliance). She has recently been appointed to the Public Service Committee for the Ontario College Of Teachers.


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