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Death threats for Western Muslims who don't tow the line

Reader comment on item: Toronto: When an Islamist Informs on Islamist Terrorists

Submitted by Elliot (Canada), Aug 7, 2006 at 10:28

Tarek Fatah, a Toronto Muslim leader who publicly took issue with some of the popular Islamist, has had to retreat from advocating a moderate stance owing to death threats, as reported in The Toronto Star:

Muslim spokesman quits

Says liberal views drew hate mail, death threats

Warnings grew more intense in past three months

Aug. 4, 2006. 05:25 AM

SURYA BHATTACHARYA

STAFF REPORTER

Tarek Fatah has quit as communications director for the Canadian Muslim Congress, saying he's worried that the threatening calls, hate mail and death threats may adversely affect his autistic child.

"Even if the glasses are rearranged, it upsets her," said Fatah, who resigned his post more than three weeks ago. "If something were to happen to me, she would be devastated." Fatah is controversial in Toronto's Muslim community because of his criticism of Muslim conservatives. He has also been accused of enjoying the media spotlight. The Muslim Canadian Congress supports same-sex marriage, female-led prayers and women's rights and is opposed to the introduction of sharia family law in Ontario. "There are many silent voices within the Muslim community and part of our mandate is to give voice to those people," said El-Farouk Khaki, secretary-general of the congress. "(Fatah) has been very much in the public eye, and not all his statements have been well received by all," said Khaki. Other moderate Muslims including Irshad Manji, author of The Trouble with Islam Today: A Muslim's Call for Reform in Her Faith, have taken precautions against such threats. Manji, a visiting Yale University fellow who lectures on the liberal reformation of Islam, doesn't carry a cellphone because "the technology used by cellphones makes it easy for ill-wishers to track you down," she wrote in an email to the Toronto Star. "I routinely receive death threats, most of them anonymous and a rising number of them from radicals in the West — Britain, Scandinavia, Netherlands, even Toronto. "A recent email to me and my Urdu-language translator described me as the `woman writer who is subject to death.' The police tracked that email to an Internet cafe in Toronto." Manji said she's been told some of the Toronto-area men arrested on terrorism-related charges said on an Islamist website that her fate "is not far" from that of Theo van Gogh, the Dutch filmmaker murdered by a young Muslim in 2004. Fatah held the communications job since the congress began in October 2001 but says that, in the past three months, the threats have become openly violent. He cites as triggers the terrorism-related arrests and Canada's refusal to issue a visa to a controversial British imam who was to address a youth conference in Toronto. Fatah has complained to the RCMP and Toronto police about threats to kill him. One incident that has not sparked a police complaint, but raised Fatah's ire, involves Mubin Shaikh, a sharia law advocate. In 2005, at the Reviving the Islamic Spirit Conference, Shaikh told a gathering that Fatah had abused the name of the Prophet. Fatah said that, as a result of the comment, he was later jostled by a crowd of youths. In an interview, Shaikh admitted making the comment but denied Fatah was jostled. Shaikh added that he does not consider Fatah a Muslim, or a representative of Islam. With time to spare now, Fatah plans on writing a book. He also plans to volunteer with Bob Rae's Liberal leadership campaign.
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