A few days ago, I was at a Sunni mosque in the greater Toronto area speaking with several of their leaders as part of an ongoing dialogue we have had for over six months. Suddenly, in the middle of the conversation, I understood on a whole new level why it is so dangerous to deny the connection between Islamism and terrorism.
What is clear from our dialogue, and other research I have done, is that outrageous conspiracy theories are commonplace among many conservative/fundamentalist Sunni Muslims (who constitute a majority of Muslims worldwide and in Canada). According to this conspiratorial worldview, 9/11, Nice, the Orlando nightclub shooting, and any such attacks are “false flags” carried out by Israel/Mossad, the USA/CIA etc. Why? To undermine Islam as part of a grand Zionist conspiracy.
It’s difficult for most Canadians to believe that there could be anything more than a fringe subculture of tinfoil hat wearing mentally ill people that would subscribe to such tall tales. That is, until you realize that mainstream politicians and legacy media are essentially endorsing this message whenever they deny that jihad attacks are carried out by Muslims in the name of Islam.
In June 2016, Obama asked “What exactly would using this label [radical Islam] accomplish?”. Part of the answer, Mr. President, is that you are feeding the conspiracies with your denial and this is very dangerous.
These conspiracy theories seek to demonize Jews and Westerners (primarily America) and claim victimhood for Muslims and Islam. That “mainstream” oppression/victimhood mentality is fertile ground for violent extremism.
There is also a subtle but dangerous manipulation of language happening that you can only really understand once you have seen behind the curtain of fundamentalist Islam. When attacks like Orlando and Nice happen, politicians and many Muslim leaders come together to denounce the attack with platitudes declaring that Islam has nothing whatsoever to do with terrorism. However, this message is interpreted very differently by fundamentalist Muslims than by secular people. Islamist leaders cynically know this while political leaders are ignorant dupes. The “nothing to do with Islam” message legitimizes the conspiracy theories and fuels the sense of victimhood that, all too often, leads to deeper radicalization and violence: the circle is complete.
Meanwhile, Islamist leaders use duplicitous language to reassure unwitting liberals and also play to their extremist base. For example, Qur’an verse 5:32 is often cited as:
..whoever kills an innocent, it is as if he has killed all mankind; and whoever saves a person, it is as if he has saved all mankind
First of all, Islamists and Muslim fundamentalists typically define “innocent” as pertaining to Muslims only, non-Muslims are fair game. Secondly, the context of this verse is only revealed when the complete verse 5:32 in the following verse is cited:
5:32 Because of that, We decreed upon the Children of Israel that whoever kills a soul unless for a soul or for corruption [done] in the land – it is as if he had slain mankind entirely. And whoever saves one – it is as if he had saved mankind entirely. And our messengers had certainly come to them with clear proofs. Then indeed many of them, [even] after that, throughout the land, were transgressors.
5:33 Indeed, the penalty for those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger and strive upon earth [to cause] corruption is none but that they be killed or crucified or that their hands and feet be cut off from opposite sides or that they be exiled from the land. That is for them a disgrace in this world; and for them in the Hereafter is a great punishment
Clearly, Qur’an 5:32 is not a peaceful message at all and yet President Obama himself invoked this verse in a speech at the Islamic Society of Baltimore:
These are the voices of Muslim clerics who teach that Islam prohibits terrorism, for the Koran says whoever kills an innocent, it is as if he has killed all mankind.
– Pres. Obama, Feb 3, 2016
Either the complicit politicians and legacy media are ignorant, or they are pandering in a way that is dangerously cynical. Responsible leaders need to admit: terrorism by self proclaimed Muslims (ISIS, Al Qaeda, Boko Haram, lone wolves) is motivated by a plausible interpretation of Islam. These people have not been duped by Zionists or the CIA. They are not pretending to be Muslims for some ulterior motive. One can argue that they have an overly literal interpretation of Islam that is lacking in nuance. However, you cannot doubt the sincerity of somebody who is willing to die in the expression of their violent fundamentalist beliefs.
According to one of the Sunni mosque representatives I spoke to: people like Michael Zehaf-Bibeau (2014 Parliament Hill attacker) are agents of Mossad who typically do what they do for money. I quickly pointed out to him that money would never motivate anyone if they know they’re not going to survive the attack to be able to enjoy the money. He simply could not accept the logic of this argument.
Here are some example conspiracy theories sent to me by this same Sunni mosque representative (DogmaWatch denounces this content):
- The widely debunked and vehemently anti-Semitic “The Protocols Of The Learned Elders Of Zion” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ig5sTehZqZA
- 9/11 conspiracy theory “911 was an Israeli Zionist False Flag Attack” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a8aGJlXuavk
- Former KKK Imperial Wizard: “David Duke Zionism Israel & the Promised Land for Organized Crime” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bmrPPZwxgas
- “Boston Marathon Bombing is False Flag Cover-Up” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cfWGZcZWcpA
- “France Truck Attack – To Those Who Still Believe This To Be Real” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7i19r2D9mL0
- “Nice Terror Truck Driver Still Alive and Never Was There?” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-v5vCRbV9uY
That Muslims could be manipulated into suicidal acts through financial incentives: this is how paranoid and delusional the victimhood and conspiracy mentality is. And the “nothing to do with Islam” apologists feed these dangerous conspiracies and are no less delusional themselves.
Meanwhile, Muslims who embrace democratic values like Raheel Raza, Asra Nomani, and Maajid Nawaz, acknowledge the reality of extremism in the Muslim community. They reject the political correctness of the “nothing to do with Islam” narrative because it undermines their ability to openly discuss and challenge Islamist ideology.
These liberal/reformist Muslims should be the natural allies of politicians and media. Instead, extremist linked organizations like NCCM/CAIR-CAN are routinely presented by the media as representing Canadian Muslims and politicians like Justin Trudeau patronize extremist gender segregated mosques for pandering photo ops. Tolerant liberal Muslims are barely acknowledged.