***Terry Glavin: Canada's new Taliban-booster says good Muslims 'love death'
“Long live the Taliban” might seem an unlikely thing for a prominent anti-war figure to declare, but that’s today’s peace movement for you. Stranger still, the man who recently uttered those words, Azzam Tamimi, is a central figure in a new Toronto-based institute that is embarking upon what it describes as a national campaign to cultivate wholesome, faith-based civic virtues among Canada’s young Muslims.
The Al-Fauz Institute for Islamic Thought says its purpose is to teach young Muslims how to apply Islamic ideas to Canada’s pluralistic society and “prepare young minds that will take up the mantle of the Muslim community.” Tamimi is scheduled to launch the institute’s ambitious public-relations and proselytizing efforts in Canada with a July 24-27 Islamic history course at Ryerson University.
But Tamimi has loudly renounced democracy, explicitly praises suicide bombers, and he’s said he’d even be happy to blow himself up in Israel: “It’s the straight way to pleasing my God and I would do it if I had the opportunity.” Tamimi distinguishes good Muslims from their adversaries this way: "We love death. They love life."
Tamimi recently proclaimed: “I don’t believe in democracy anymore,” and it was at an anti-Israel rally in Dublin only three months ago that Tamimi declared: “With regard to their attitudes to liberation, I say ‘Long Live the Taliban’.”
You’d never know any of this from the billing the Al-Fauz institute gives Tamimi. He’s presented as a Palestinian-born British academic and a “political activist.” His leading role with Britain’s Stop The War Coalition is noted. But nowhere does the institute mention that Tamimi is also high-ranking ideologue for Hamas, one of the deadliest organizations listed under Canada’s anti-terrorism laws.
Along with Tamimi, the Al-Fauz institute names five well-known Canadian imams as its faculty members. But the best known among them - Hamid Slimi, chairman of the Canadian Council of Imams – told me he’d never even heard of the institute. “I don’t know anything about this,” Slimi said. “I must be completely out of the loop.”
After some back-and-forth between Slimi and Iqbal Masood Nadvi, the Al Fauz institute’s senior patron, Slimi told me he was probably just behind in checking his emails, and Nadvi said it was all just a simple misunderstanding. The institute wasn’t supposed to be formally announced until later this month.
For his part, Nadvi denied any knowledge of Tamimi’s dodgy associations or his frequent, bloodcurdling pronouncements. “I am hearing this from you for the first time,” said Nadvi, the Saudi-trained director of Oakville’s Al-Falah Islamic School. “I don’t believe in the Taliban. What I know about Tamimi is he is an academic person.”
Tamimi’s best-known book is titled Hamas: A History From Within.
Nadvi referred further questions to the Al-Fauz institute’s coordinator, Junaid Mirza, who had taken the lead in bringing Tamimi on board. Mirza told me he was quite familiar Tamimi’s political background, but it was Tamimi’s academic expertise in the history of Islamic reform movements that landed him the institute faculty post and the Ryerson gig. But if the point is to present Canadians with “a balanced and comprehensive vision of Islam,” isn’t a character like Azzam Tamimi pretty well the worst choice the Al-Fauz institute could have made to unveil itself to the public?
“We’ll have other points of view down the road, too,” Mirza said.
What about Tamimi’s huzzahs for the Taliban?
“His defence of the Taliban is a complicated one,” Mirza said. “It’s not a blanket defence.” Mirza added that he personally doesn’t agree that the Taliban is entitled to slaughter Afghan civilians or kill Canadian soldiers.
Then what about Tamimi’s grisly advocacy of suicide bombing?
“This is a marginalized position in Islamic scholarship,” and besides, the subject isn’t expected to come up during Tamimi’s lectures, which will span 1,400 years of Islamic history. “This is an academic discussion. We’re not trying to get people motivated and inspired like you would at a political rally.”
Tarek Fatah, a founder of the progressive Muslim Canadian Congress and the author of Chasing A Mirage: The Tragic Illusion of an Islamic State, isn’t buying any of this. Lurid theology unavoidably bleeds into toxic ideology, and nobody should be surprised that Tamimi has found a home for himself with the Al-Fauz institute: “All of those fellows have been pulling the wool over Canada’s eyes for years.”
The Al-Fauz Institute of Islamic Thought is part of the same Islamist network that includes Tamimi’s own, similarly-named “Institute of Islamic Political Thought” in London, Fatah said. It’s the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas in Palestine, and the far-right Jamaat-e-Islami in Pakistan. They all operate freely in Canada’s mosques, and young Muslims are expected to muddle through it on their own.
“The racist right will talk about these things to frighten people about immigrants. The liberal-left has abandoned its responsibility to fight medievalism. And nobody wants to talk about what is really happening here.”