Why Canada Attacks Are Not Surprising – Imam Sheharyar

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Police say man believed to be a member of the Canadian army has been shot at National War Memorial in Ottawa. Image credit Aljazeera

 

The attacks in Canada this week are most saddening but not surprising. Canada has hardly been a neutral country in the world in the last 13 years. Despite its peaceful and innocent self-image, it has poodled right into a US-led war that has cost millions of innocent lives and turned tens of millions into permanent refugees in the another part of the world

IMAM SHEHARYAR SHAIKH 

 

Imam Sheharyar

[dropcap]L[/dropcap]ast Monday, Martin Couture-Roulou, a 25-year old Canadian hit two Canadian soldiers by his car after waiting in a mall parking lot for hours 30 miles southeast of Montreal. Martin who apparently held a knife was eventually shot by the police seven times. Yesterday, Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, after killing a National War memorial guard, walked into the front door of Parliament Hill with a double barrel shotgun. He too was shot dead.

Both Martin and Michael were Quebecers, Caucasians and converts to Islam who allegedly identified with ISIS.  I am highly saddened, but not highly shocked. Let’s face it, folks. Canada has hardly been a neutral country in the world in the last thirteen years. Despite its peaceful and innocent self-image, it has poodled right into a US-led war that has cost millions of innocent lives and turned tens of millions into permanent refugees in the another part of the world.

For the last thirteen years, we Canadians have participated in the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan — a military fiasco costing Canadians blood and treasure.

Remember the statements from the top brass in our armed forces in the early days of the Afghan war?

  • (Taliban) have no chance of winning militarily — Gen James L Jones
  • Taliban insurgency “in disarray” — Brig-Gen Jonathan Vance
  • Taliban will be marginalized by 2011 — Brig-Gen Danial Menard
  • Taliban wont ..win friends with the general population — Brig-Gen Craig King

And then, the shock of all shocks, the same tough talking Gen Rick Hillier, former head of our army, who had said “We are not the public service of Canada…our job is to be able to kill people” labelling Taliban as “detestable murderers and scumbags” later himself argued for troops reduction in Afghanistan in 2004-2006 because: “the army was being run pretty hard” and “the shock of the operational cost was big.”

Hillier, who had once highlighted the cause as: “(Taliban) detest our freedoms, they detest our society, they detest our liberties” earlier was later humbled to a point where he called Taliban’s role in the country’s political process as “inevitable.”

Police officers take cover near Parliament Hilll following a shooting incident in Ottawa October 22, 2014.   REUTERS/Chris Wattie
Police officers take cover near Parliament Hilll following a shooting incident in Ottawa October 22, 2014. Reuters/Chris Wattie

Our Defense Minister Gordon O’Connor tried to detract from our militarism by highlighting our humanitarianism: “We’re engaged in helping people move products around, we’re helping them build houses, we’re helping advise the police…And when we’re attacked, we attack back.”

Finally in 2012, Gen Menard called negotiating with the Taliban a “realistic” approach “because they are not corrupt and they create order.”  Yes, the same monstrous Taliban who we had gone to kill and destroy. Maj-Gen Dean Milner, last Canadian general to remain in Afghanistan lowered the flag at ISAF headquarters on March 12, 2014. Canadian soldiers left Afghanistan at last. The question is: What did we achieve fighting a US war except lose precious lives, waste taxpayer wealth and incur humiliation for over a decade?

We are making the same blunder fighting ISIS today.

What do we gain by consciously handing innocent people to proxy torture countries while knowing that they would be bound and inhumanely tortured? Now by declaring war on ISIS by sending special forces and CF-18 fighter jets for a six-month bombing campaign we are blindly being led to another fiasco. Should there be surprise if there was a blowback, however amateurish, against two soldiers by ‘Lone Wolves’ using a speeding car and shotgun?

As Glen Greenwald recently put it: “The only surprising thing about any of it is that it doesn’t happen more often.”

I am sure the mainstream propaganda machinery will go on a full swing, feeding the ‘terrorist ideology’ and ‘hatred towards our freedoms’ spiel for the violence, without giving the slightest cause for real introspection. I am also sure that I (and anyone) who wants to see Canada as a global moral leader, which refrains from all US wars with a ten-foot pole, will instead be labelled a terrorist-sympathizer. Its sick.

Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper speaks during a nationally televised address on CBC in this still image taken from video  in Ottawa, October 22, 2014.  Reuters/CBC/Pool
Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper speaks during a nationally televised address on CBC in this still image taken from video in Ottawa, October 22, 2014. Reuters/CBC/Pool

We must ask: Why were the Canadian soldiers the main targets and not say, Hungarian or Chilean soldiers or even Canadian civilians? Why have the anti-Canadian activities seen a rise particularly in the last decade? There is a causal link with our changed role in the world. Martin Couture-Rouleau’s Facebook friend Faisal tells CBC that Martin was “very angry” about Canada’s bombings in Iraq and Syria — the latter being the 14th Muslim country to be bombed since 1980. If a country bordering ISIS such as Turkey, a NATO member and ally, can remain neutral toward ISIS, why can’t we? We, unlike the US, are not an imperial power and hold no ambitious designs.

Therefore we must disengage from this senseless war and reclaim our honorable humanitarian role as in the past. Now. This is less humiliating and costly than telling our brave soldiers to remove their uniforms in public for their own protection.

As far as the Muslim community is concerned, the awful truth is that no matter how law abiding and peace loving 1, 053, 945 Canadian Muslims are, they will be community stigmatization on account of a few loons. The community should not feel “guilt by association”, but rather it has to come together to take measures against a possible Islamophobic backlash against our centers and persons — as has been sadly the case since 9/11.

While the Muslim ‘leaders’ race each other in holding memorial services, offering condolences, presenting colorful wreaths, and making sympathetic gestures for the tragic death of Cpl Nathan Cirillo and obsequiously reassuring the Harper government of their undying patriotism, we expect that a few will have the gall to suggest a review of Canada’s 13-year old war policy under a US mandate.

If we are truly patriotic, let us protect our country from harm’s way. And if we are a true friend of the US, we would prevent the Americans from harm as well.

Sheharyar Shaikh is the former President of North American Muslim Foundation. He is currently the Imam of Masjid Qurtabah, Canada. He specializes in the Quranic exegesis and contemporary Islamic thought.

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All opinions and views expressed in columns and blogs and comments by readers are those of individual writers and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Caravan

 

 

theclarionindia
theclarionindiahttps://clarionindia.net
Clarion India - News, Views and Insights about Indian Muslims, Dalits, Minorities, Women and Other Marginalised and Dispossessed Communities.

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