Moderate Western Muslims, Speak Up! ; Do We Really Need Social Research to Condemn Islamofacism?

Article excerpt

In the months following 9/11, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman said that rather than constantly ask ourselves, "Why do they hate us?", we should instead ask, "Why don't they see us for who we really are?"

I thought about that following the arrests of 17 Canadian terror suspects last weekend. Most were citizens of Canada, born and bred, or residents. The police who announced the dragnet were careful to say that the young males did not represent any specific ethnocultural group - though all are Muslim.

Toronto's mayor, David Miller, after commending the excellent work of Canada's security forces, wondered aloud why young people might get involved in terrorist activities. We need "strategies to try to prevent that from happening again," he said. His earnestness awed me. Can he truly believe there is some "thing" Canadians can do (hold a "Hands Across Canada" event?) to prevent this kind of occurrence?

Canada is not France. Canada's Muslim population is not marginalized out of fear and contempt, not left alone to manage its own affairs. Even though a Toronto mosque had its windows smashed following the arrests, that sort of thuggery and stupidity is not systemic or common. Canada's Muslims are not prevented from attending good schools or holding high-powered jobs. Nor are they, for the most part, unwilling or unable to fit in peacefully and productively. So the mayor's concern was misplaced. His comment should have been something along the lines of, "I wonder what Canada's Muslim leaders/moderate Muslim citizens can do to prevent this kind of thing in future?"

In countries like Canada, or England, or Spain, where citizens have been shocked by the news of home-grown cells, I believe more needs to be asked of Muslim religious and community leaders. Western Muslims are a powerful potential ally in the broader "war on terror." It is true that most Muslims are not terrorists. But we need Muslims themselves to admit that most of the terrorists who threaten us are Muslim.

Aly Hindy, a high-profile imam in the Toronto suburb of Scarborough, called the arrests "an attack on the Muslim community. …