These must be difficult days for the friends of fanatics.
Let’s qualify that. The vociferous defenders of alleged terrorists must find recent events “difficult” if they are willing to engage in open-
minded re-examination of the facts.
To borrow a phrase, that’s about as likely as a snowball’s chance in Baghdad.
The esteemed Liberal MP Justin Trudeau — P.E.T. Lite — and his pals are strangely silent when airline passengers are molested before boarding a plane, but they howl with indignation whenever an accused terrorist’s rights are supposedly trampled.
Mohamed Harkat would apparently be a model citizen — an ideal immigrant, just like your grandparents — if only the Canadian Security Intelligence Service would stop harassing him.
Except that, last week, a Federal Court judge ruled there was sufficient evidence to believe Harkat is a “sleeper agent” with ties to al-Qaida as well as an extremist group in Egypt, had worked with extremists in Pakistan for more than a year, had been to Afghanistan, had regular contact with famed model Canadian citizen Ahmed Said Khadr and had used false documents to enter Canada in 1995.
Gee, just like Granddad.
In Canada, of course, we like to be nice to everyone, even those who are allegedly members of groups planning mass murder. That is why you can still find — even after the Federal Court’s ruling that Harkat is potentially dangerous — people who will oppose sending him back to his native Algeria. And just to prove how gentle and kind we all want to be, Harkat is out on bail.
It is becoming rare to hear the friends of fanatics use the phrase “the root causes of terrorism.” Former NDP leader Alexa McDonough uttered it whenever she saw a microphone. Poverty and American imperialism were broadly indicted as guilty parties.
But the poverty explanation lost credibility every time a doctor attempted a suicide bombing in Glasgow or a successful real-estate agent planned a train bombing in Madrid.
Commentator Gwynne Dyer, among others, is holding true to the American imperialism interpretation. (Altogether, now: “It’s all about the oil.”)
We eagerly await an explanation of what American imperialism had to do with this week’s attempted suicide bombing in Stockholm.
As Europe’s coming religious war makes the continent resemble Northern Ireland in the 1970s, Europeans and Dyer can throw an angry tantrum and declare, once again, “It’s all because of American imperialism.”
Except that Taimour Abdulwahab, the Stockholm bomber, was not an American imperialist. He was a Swedish citizen who had lived in Britain for a decade. According to investigators, and an email Abdulwahab had sent to the media shortly before his promotion to paradise, he was interested in “jihad.”
Don’t say that
Unfortunately — the Federal Court ruling on Harkat notwithstanding — the main result of having extremists in Canada and jihadists in Britain is that governments feel a need to suppress free speech. You wouldn’t want anyone to embarrass the government or alarm citizens by pointing out extremists are immigrating to Canada, or that jihadists are frequenting mosques in Britain.
Only a generation ago, anyone who felt inspired to do so could stand on a street corner in Toronto or London — or, if they preferred, Brampton or Bristol — and read from “The Communist Manifesto,” or “Mein Kampf.” Back in that quaint era, it was widely believed people had the right to hold ideas and choose beliefs, no matter how obnoxious.
Of course, that was all before the invention of “hate speech.”
This week, the British government said it would consider barring the Florida pastor who earlier this fall had threatened to burn copies of the Qur’an.
Prevent loudmouthed pastors from entering the country, but stand idly by while jihadists jaunt over to the continent with suicide-bomb belts. It doesn’t even need a punchline.
Brian Jones is a desk editor at The Telegram. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.