A political challenge on a global scale

Islamic courts in Canada

Mohsen Ebrahimi
June 2004

The struggle to establish Islamic tribunals in Canada, like similar efforts to enforce the hijab in public institutions and schools in France, is not merely a cultural effort to pursue cultural rights. Both the aims of and the forces behind these efforts are political. These attempts are part and parcel of one of the most reactionary global phenomena in recent history, i.e. the movement of political Islam.

Islamist circles in Paris, London and Toronto are the extensions of the Islamic Republic in Iran, the Taliban and Mojahedin in Afghanistan, the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, and plenty of other Islamic groups in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Chechnya and other parts of the world. This monster has plenty of heads and tails. The Islamic Republic of Iran at its head has savagely ruled for 25 years and is now being challenged by a huge secular movement of the people of Iran. Ironically, while the head is being smashed in its stronghold by a secular movement, the tails are challenging the secular values in the west. The head is being attacked in Iran by a secular movement; the tails are attacking secularism in Paris, London and Toronto.

What is going on here? How is this possible? It may look a bit complicated but some answers are rooted in the horror of September 11 and its political aftermath.

Immediately after the massacre of more than 3000 people by Islamic terrorists on September 11, the USA and the Islamic movement, formerly old friends, became new foes. A bloody duel began between two long-time friends, the state terrorism of the USA and Islamic terrorism. The state terrorism of the USA needed a fresh 'great Satan' to replace the recently collapsed Soviet Union which served as a long-lasting 'Satan' during the cold war. With the horror of September 11, Islamic terrorism became the most fitting alternative to play this role.

But, the strategists of the New World Order were wise enough not to put all their eggs in one basket. They consciously divided political Islam into Islamic fundamentalists, Islamic terrorists, and moderate Islam. They smashed Islamic terrorism while cosy-ing up to 'moderate' Islam. Islamic terrorism was used to justify US militarism and 'moderate' Islam was still kept as a potential force against the Left movement in other parts of the world. No wonder George Bush, Jack Straw, and Schroeder began to compete with the grand Ayatollahs of Islam in the interpretation of the Koran and Islamic teachings.

In the eyes of western states, and in fact with the help of them, the Islamic movement can now operate in a new, moderate and modern disguise: moderate Islam! And they did. Plenty of clerics in the west suddenly became the vigilant advocates of moderate Islam! They are not terrorists; they are 'moderate' fighters against secular values in the west. They are not terrorists; they are 'moderate' advocates for the institutionalisation of the hijab - the symbol of women's inferiority in Islamic culture and Islamic politics - in France! They are not terrorists; they are 'moderate' advocates of establishing Islamic courts in Canada! They are 'moderate' forces of religious values against secular values.

In the aftermath of September 11, racist groups intensified racism against citizens categorised as Muslims. They failed because the people in the west rightly did not want to be labelled as the supporters of this organised racist reaction. They rightly defended the rights of every citizen, regardless of religion, race, colour, gender and nationality. While this attitude attracted the respect of ordinary people, Islamic groups were ready to hypocritically take advantage of this progressive atmosphere. They used it to promote their politico-religious causes. They began to present themselves as 'oppressed' representatives of an oppressed 'minority'. People in the west were for the rights of citizens to live in a secure environment; Islamic groups used it to promote Islamic values to undermine the rights of the same citizens.

While in their stronghold in the Middle East, the Islamic movement is being challenged by secular movements, in the west, the Islamic movement is attempting to erode long established secular values. It is struggling to win in the west, what it is already losing in Islam-stricken countries.

Both the strong movement against the Islamic Republic in Iran and the strong turnout in France in favour of banning the hijab in public places and schools are indicative of the strength of the secular movement against political Islam.

The atrocities of political Islam are global. The stoning to death in Iran and Afghanistan, the struggle to enforce the hijab in public places in France, the attempt to set up Islamic courts in Canada are all various parts of one and the same phenomena: political Islam. The threat is global. The fight against it must therefore be waged on a global scale. We must stand up, defend our secular values, and defeat them.

The above is a part of a longer article written in English under the same title.