Canadian Muslim Congress:  Death Threats or Medals of Glory?

Death Threats or Medals of Glory?

Sheharyar Shaikh

And it happened.

A few days ago Mr. Tarek Fatah, a media-prominent Muslim activist and a “moderate” Muslim, received his death threat from an unknown voice on his answering machine. The man threatened to kill Mr. Fatah for “smearing Islam”.

One thing is certain. One of the two persons has only hurt Islam and Muslims with a show of sheer idiocy, irresponsibility, and a big mouth – not to mention his utter ignorance of the Islamic law. (No, I am not talking about Mr. Fatah).

Of course, in reference to this threat-call, we will be constantly reminded by Mr. Fatah for the next few years of the shadowy dangers lurking around him as he heroically battles the deadly Muslim extremists who are a just a hair-breadth close to bringing down the entire nation… or the globe.

You can visit the CMC website for a word-by-word transcript of the audio recording. And if you can not read, help yourself to an audio recording of the threat-call posted on the website. And just in case you forgot who Mr. Fatah and Mrs. Hassan are, a sombre photograph of the two crusaders spans the front page. Two articles related to the threat-call are also posted on the website…with much more to come! 

We all know that the threat most probably will not materialize. In all seriousness those who are about to kill someone (usually) do not go about announcing their plan on answering machines. In any case, this is not something new; Mr. Fatah claims that he has been receiving death threats for the last four years (See article: Fearing for safety, Muslim official quits by Sonya Fatah).

Yet, the well-timed episode will probably give CMC a fresh lease on life it badly needs. Lacking a solid platform for its existence, CMC is showing some major ideological fissures from within and the incident of the threat-call might just unite its ranks for a while.  On a sympathetic note, it can be easy to become frustrated when you know you don’t enjoy popular support in the community and claim to speak on its behalf at the same time. CMC President Farzana Hassan admitted in a recent Toronto Star interview that she tries to reach out “with respect to providing a different perspective on Islam and women’s rights and progress in general and nobody seems very interested…”

My main contention with CMC is that instead of pondering on ways of how they can connect with the Muslims and earn their goodwill by solving their day-to-day problems, its cadre engages in fruitless smear campaigns against the most toothless, docile, and passive element of our society: the mosque Imam. They know well that the mosque Imam with his steady repertoire of dull sermons in badly pronounced English is no revolutionary-in-hiding, yet they purposefully mislead the general Canadian public into thinking that every mosque is a simmering hotbed of anti-Canadian conspiracies – little caring for the far-reaching and all-engulfing effects of the flames of this paranoia. They also know too well that the only politics the Imam is concerned with is mosque-politics; so long as his place at the pulpit is assured and he hears the sweet sound of tooneys falling in the boxes every Friday, he cares little for what happens beyond the mosque parking lot. I assume that running globally linked terrorist cells involves a bit more dynamism than what our dandy Imams are capable of.

Involved in politics? I assure you that some do not even know the name of our premier. 


I have had lengthy email correspondence with Mr. Fatah on the issue of “terrorism in the mosques” and sadly, he was not able to provide an iota of evidence of how Saudi Arabia and Iran have hijacked our mosques. Perhaps Mr. Fatah carries some highly sensitive information on our mosques he is not willing to share with our all-too-efficient intelligence agencies.

My advice to CMC is the following: Stop feeding the ugly demon of fear and hatred against the ordinary Muslim who is decent, law-abiding and only wants to be left in peace – all for a paltry gain. Try loving your community instead of being filled with spite all the time – disturbed childhood or not. Secondly, read up a bit of the Quran before tackling major theological issues with an aim to form a comprehensive approach towards faith rather than a purely issue-centric one. And lastly, if you are serious about change in the community lighten up on the fiery statements and media-hype and show your seriousness through practical work on the ground.

And now I will do what we usually do when our organization receives a threatening message by a disgruntled member of the community – sigh and take a nap!   

Sheharyar Shaikh is the President of North American Muslim Foundation. He is specializing in contemporary Islamic thought and modernity