Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Proving our Canadian-ness

As you have likely heard by now, the charges against 4 more of the "Toronto 18" have been stayed (charges of 3 youth were already stayed last year). Click here or here for more on that.

It seems that our collective duas, as expressed here are slowly but surely being answered.

This is good news, for both the Muslim and non-Muslim community. We are slowly being exonerated of accusations that had little merit to begin with. No matter how blue in the face Muslims get, trying to explain that Islam does not endorse terrorism, the media has a tendency to instill irrational fears in the hearts of the public.

And now, charges have been stayed without these individuals even getting to a trial. Surprising, isn't it? I will refrain from writing anything about the others who are still in prison, some in solitary confinement for months on end.

Although this is good news, the comments I'm seeing from of our fellow Canadians are really astounding. One of the comments I've read (you can see all the comments at the link I provided above) is as follows:

"They have proof that at least SOME of them were planning something wrong, and those ones will (hopefully) be brought to justice. There were bound to be a few associates or mere friends taken down in the process, but let that be a warning to muslims. WATCH WHO YOU HANG OUT WITH, or better yet rat any extremists you know out yourselves, it will let the rest of Canada start to think of you in a better light."

According to this individual, in order for Canada to think of us Muslims in a better light, we need to be divided and fight against one another. We must always be suspicious towards other Muslims and "rat" on those whom we suspect to be doing wrong.

Put more simply, in order to be accepted into the generous hearts of Canadians, we have to prove our Canadian-ness. It isn't enough anymore to be born and raised here. It isn't enough that our community is more highly educated than the average Canadian and we are contributing to the economy in massive ways. It isn't enough that our mosques run community outreach programs, food drives, fundraising initiatives for the homeless. Apparently for Muslims, it's just not enough to be decent human beings.

But oh, we dearly want all Canadians to love us! So, let's start ratting out our Muslim neighbours who went camping last summer!


To be clear, I'm not advocating anything related to terrorism, which is abhorrent and disgusting to say the least. Rather, it is interesting to see the reactions that are elicited by people when you start throwing around that dreaded T-word.

And hey, how does one even define what is "Canadian" anyways? The age old question. At the end of the day, if we Muslims are trying to "prove" that we belong to an identity that is so fluid in and of itself, we're just paving the way to more confusion about our own identities.

I am a decent human being but I maintain my own identity - one that I have formed for myself by weighing in all aspects of my surroundings, one that I think will make me a stronger and better person. That is all I can offer. If that's not enough to make me a "Canadian" or make the public see me in a better light, well then that makes me sad, but I am still unwavering.


As human beings in the 21st century, we live in a culture that is entrenched in fear. We think that there is an evil force behind every corner we turn and that everyone is out to get us. Before we are ever able to move on and think about the world objectively, we need to shed these hurtful stereotypes. Non-Muslims perhaps need to come to terms with Muslims being an integral part of the Canadian mosaic.

And Muslims aren't off the hook either. We have some pretty negative stereotypes of our own - often thinking that anyone who's skin is lighter than ours is a bigot.

In short, none of us are without fault. We each have ways to go, but we need to strive to make sure our society moves forward in a productive and fair manner. I hope, God-willing, that the rest of the individuals who are not out of prison yet will be given a fair judgment as well.


hajera said...

This is one of my favourite comments: "These jerks are setting up the Extreemist Islam Colony of Canada and our laws are letting them get away with it."

As stupid as these comments/reactions are, I think we should focus our energies on being grateful that the wrongfully accused are now free, alhamdulillah. I can only imagine how relieved their families must be. And let's keep making dua for those that have yet to have their day in court and pray that they are exonerated and united with their families soon as well. May Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala reward them for their patience and make their trials an expiation for their sins.

hajera said...

forgot to add: excellent post, i enjoyed reading it :)

Yaser said...

I wouldn't go so far as to say those men have been 'exonerated.' The fact the charges have been merely suspended, that they can still be prosecuted again at any time, still implies that they're guilty (innocent till proven guilty -- that's a load of crock) and not entirely free of blame.

Asmaa said...

Haj, thanks. yeah we really have to say alhamdulillah :)

Yaser, well I worded it carefully when I said we're "slowly" being exonerated :) you're right, charges being stayed doesn't mean being dropped. I work for a lawyer :D but in reality, why would the charges be stayed if the crown had a solid case against them? They wouldn't be. That's why it's such a big deal.

Dropping the charges completely would've been a huge scandal, so you know, staying them is the middle ground where the RCMP won't necessarily look quite as bad.

Umar said...

I'm going to gain some brownie points by ratting out your blog post.

On a serious note, it's unfortunate that within our own community, we're so quick to turn our heads and ignore the plight of families such as those involved in this ordeal. I guess it stems from a fear of being associated with the "wrong" people.

fathima said...

good post. and umar makes a good point - we've internalised the fear-mongering so well, that we are afraid of being associated with other people, with ourselves.
it's sad that i say that and then immediately feel the need to add the obligatory ihateterrorism disclaimer.

one of those crazy moslems said...

Interesting post. It actually prompted me to write something similar in my own blog, albeit about the First Nations who have endured this treatment since the times that we were still called Mohammadans!