Last week King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia died at the age of 90. From the time he received the throne in 1995 until the day he died, Abdullah watched, mostly in silence, as the world became mired in religious extremism and as blame for the chaos fell squarely upon the shoulders of ordinary Muslims. Abdullah knew and implicitly sealed the export of hateful Wahabism from Saudi Arabia's borders to all corners of the earth, ignoring centuries of tradition from its Islamic anti-thesis, Sufism.
Now a few days after the horrific attack in Paris, hashtag #JeSuisCharlie floats about the Internet as a neoliberal nod of solidarity to those who were killed in yesterday's attack. While I see its good intentions, in the big picture this hashtag serves as a demonstration of alliance with that coveted icon of western identity: freedom of speech. But make no mistake, the reasons the perpetrators carried out this attack were more complex than simply freedom of speech. For what is pitifully lacking in most every media representation of the attack on the offices of Charlie Hebdo is the historical background of what this attack was about.
Slowly, but surely, I see my ancestral city die a slow death at the hands of religious fanatics. From Boko Haram in Nigeria, who kidnapped 276 young girls from a school in April 2014, to the TTP, who has repeatedly attacked schoolchildren in Pakistan, the Islamic fundamentalists are systematically attacking schools and students. Their goal is to deprive the future generation of Muslims of education and return them back to the dark ages. It is time for the West to right the wrongs and help save Peshawar from the apocalyptic mercenaries.
Recently ISIS released a video featuring former Canadian, 23-year-old John Maguire, now known as Abu Anwar Al-Canadi, demanding Muslim Canadians carry out terrorist attacks on Canadian soil. Though interpretations of religion which fail to uphold universal human rights legitimize ISIS ideologies for men like Maguire, not all Canadian adherents of conservative interpretations of Islam wish to live in a violent dictatorship, bound by the most rigid shariah law. If you are a Canadian Muslim, considering joining ISIS, here are a list of sins you will commit if you do.
The horrific and public murders of two Canadian servicemen days apart will surely become political fodder for debates about Canada's international and domestic policies and practices concerning terrorism. While these tragedies should indeed stimulate conversation and reflection, they should not be used to stifle debate and facilitate the speedy passing of any counter-terrorism legislation without due scrutiny or a critical eye.
It was strange to receive the news in a country where terror is an every day occurrence, that a deranged jihadist had shed blood on Canadian soil, rampaging through our normally peaceful capital, on the heels of another attack days earlier in Montreal. I knew, too, that the people of Afghanistan would have sound advice to offer Canadians.
Zehaf-Bibeau was driven by "political and ideological motives" in the murder of Cpl. Cirillo. Even before the day was out, our Prime Minister came out and labelled him a terrorist, without truly knowing who he was and why he did what he did. Knowing that Bourque intentionally targeted five Mounties, murdering three in cold blood in June, how come he wasn't (and still hasn't been) vilified as a terrorist?
We should honour the sacrifice of Cpl. Cirillo and Warrant Officer Vincent by refusing to bestow their attackers with a name that accords them prominence and stature. Let's dial this back several notches and call this phenomenon what it is: violent treason. And the mental health aspect cannot be dismissed. Our focus should be soberly fixed on appropriate security, not obsessing over unstable individuals who are by their nature unpredictable.
Twitter exploded with comments by people wondering how Michael Zehaf-Bibeau could get a gun in Canada. The myth is that private citizens can't own guns. While the country doesn't have something along the lines of a Second Amendment to the Constitution, citizens can own guns. That's because the Canadian system is more about licensing and registration than restriction. And even that's been watered down in the last few years.
Recently, Canada's military has come under deliberate, sustained attack. In fact, our Forces may already have been vanquished. Not by an enemy, but by the nation it defends. Faith in Canada's support is the one thing our Forces absolutely, positively must have to be effective. But that was taken away last year, bringing the days of selflessly charging into danger to a crashing halt.