Canada's Muslims Provide "Strategic Advice on Relations with the Muslim World"
by Daniel Pipes
Canada's Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT) has today created a "Muslim Communities Working Group Operational Unit" (FMCG). This is explained in an administrative notice from David Mulroney, assistant deputy minister for bilateral relations, to "All employees at Headquarters, at missions and at regional offices," and leaked to me.
The FMCG grows out of the "Muslim Communities Working Group" that was created in mid-2005 under the direction of Arif Lalani, DFAIT's director of its South Asia Division. "The idea was to take a unique approach to an emerging cross-cutting issue for the Department and the government as a whole by bringing together officers from across the Department in a virtual working group." That group has been a success, answering
Mulroney thanks them for their contribution but notes that "we cannot do the job with a volunteer fire department" and announces that the FMCG will now have a full operational capability. The mandate and chairmanship remains the same but now it "will have clear operational capability and responsibility." Its mandate
In taking this step, Mulroney goes on to indicate, Canada is merely catching up with its peers: "The evolution to operational capability is absolutely vital and begins to put us at par with other key partners. The UK, Netherlands, Germany, and others all have such a capability already well-established."
Mulroney (who is slated to become the foreign affairs adviser to the new prime minister, Steven Harper) signs off in a slightly menacing tone, stressing the seriousness of the FMCG: "This unit is a priority for the Deputy Minister and for me. I count on your active collaboration with the FMCG in the service of the Department's and the government's interests."
Comments: (1) Muslims will from now on have a special say with regard to Canadian foreign and trade issues touching on Muslims.
(2) The privileging of Islam proceeds apace, with Muslims in at least four Western countries giving "strategic advice on relations with the Muslim world."
(3) This is a terrible mistake. Belonging to a certain group should not give one special authority in dealing with that group, and especially not in a governmental context.
(4) The only person yet to be charged with an offense under Canada's new Anti-Terrorism Act is Mohammad Momin Khawaja; and he was, at about the time of his arrest, a computer consultant for DFAIT.
(5) One can only guess at the intellectual environment of FMCG but one of the individuals mentioned as a player in it, Crystal Procyshen, wrote a strident article against Israel in 1997, "JERUSALEM! What is the TRUTH? Travel and Truth:A Volunteers' Experience in Palestine." It includes such gems as these (original spelling and spacing retained as is):
(April 7, 2006)
Apr. 15, 2006 update: For discussion and further elaboration of this topic, see "How do you solve a problem like sharia?" "Canada's Foreign Ministry creates pro-Moslem policy unit," "Diplomatic Sharia Comes To Canada," "Islamic Supporter Leading Group in Foreign Affairs Canada?" "Canada and the Umma," "Radical Jewhater to head new Canadian Islam-kowtowing foreign-policymaking organ," and "Canadian Government Terrorist Supporter."
May 3, 2006 update: DFAIT will be offering a "A Survey of Islamic Civilization" course on May 16 and 17, according to an administrative notice jointly sent out by Arif Lalani, director of the Muslim Communities Working Group Operational Unit (FMCG) and the director of the Centre of Learning for International Affairs and Management. The course description reads as follows:
The instructors have an surprising Ismaili bias:
Comment: My informant does not recall "any other civilizational course ever having been offered" at DFAIT in this way – not Chinese civilization, Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish, Byzantine, or any other.
July 21, 2006 update: The Los Angeles-based Muslim Public Affairs Council may have been inspired by the Canadian FMCG to issue a call today for Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to hire a Muslim advisor "to travel with her as an advisor during her trip" to the Middle East. MPAC calls the presence of such a person "invaluable" in helping her understand "the sentiment on the streets of the Arab and Muslim worlds." MPAC also presumes to tell her "you should not leave the region until the hostilities and bombings end."
Nov. 21, 2007 update: The FMCG co-sponsored, along with the UK's "Engaging the Islamic World Group," a two-day conference at the Department of Foreign Affairs reports Jeff Davis of Embassy, "to discuss the extremism and de-radicalization of Islamist movements, how to better integrate Muslim populations in their countries, and how to engage domestic Muslim populations in the foreign policy-making process." Participants included diplomats, academics, and Muslim leaders. A number of governments, including the UK, the United States, Australia, New Zealand, France, Germany, Spain, Holland, Slovenia and Scandinavian countries, sent delegations of Muslim relations specialists from their foreign ministries.
Jan. 28, 2008 update: All employees at DFAIT headquarters are invited to a 3-day course, today through the 30th, on "Islam and Muslim Communities: Perspectives for Foreign Policy" offered in part by FMCG. The memo announcing the course, jointly sent by Randolph Mank, director general of the Asia South and Pacific Bureau, and Valerie Raymond, director general of the Canadian Foreign Service Institute, promises instruction in five important areas, and I quote:
While all are invited, the course has two target audiences: "Ottawa-based officials focused on bilateral, multilateral and/or thematic issues related to Muslim communities abroad including human rights and democratic governance" and government employees "from DFAIT and partner departments across government who are being posted to Muslim-majority countries."
Feb. 25, 2008 update: FMCG joins with the "West, Central and Great Lakes of Africa Division" to screen a film today, The Imam and the Pastor,
Comment: The shuttering of this ignominious group presumably has something to do with Harper Government policies.
Reader comments (16) on this item
Comment on this item
Support Daniel Pipes' work with a tax-deductible donation to the Middle East Forum. Daniel J. Pipes