Hussein Hoballah, Montreal
Until a while earlier, Montreal was just the example on cities with a variety of institutions, masjids and communities, and on the success made by these institutions, whether they worked independently, collaboratively or cooperatively. That was true despite a good deal of discordant perspectives and serious disagreements which never crossed the line. Competition to bring in community members was strong, but the discordance and disagreements didn’t turn into mutual blames or allegations of public corruption, misdealing, treachery, espionage, or even bringing in insidious parties to strike opponents.
So the disagreements happening beyond the lights largely remained confined to certain limits and times, narrowly escaping to the public. Whenever the disagreements grew, good Samaritans intervened to resolve things before they grew too serious. So resolutions were reached with us working together and coordinating things within our community, disallowing the malevolent to emblaze our discords. We were aware we had to protect our small community that had formed only recently in Canada and had been surveilled by adversaries. The worst it could get for the conflicting community members was to depart from their mother institutions and initiate new ones. Then they would do what they thought was right to tackle the new reality. So despite all the discords here and there, there was always someone who intervened to pacify things and heal wounds and prevent grave divisions. Those constructive interventions maintained some amity and self-honour and backed the position of our community, which had come from various cultures, countries and backgrounds but had one religion and common concerns.
Contrastingly, a completely different history has been being formed. If things remain unchanged, this new history will depict us as mockable, derisory, pathetic and mournful to other communities.
The new history will manifest a new utter absurdity, which clearly is that Montreal’s Muslim community components have begun to attack each other following the community’s recent, remarkable successes. This is happening to the community that’s unfortunately targeted by foes on the inside and outside, in time when adversities and challenges are growing worse and the malevolent are watching every single miscalculation so that they embolden their incessant campaigns.
The anti-community plots surface in different forms, including:
- the provincial government’s making of laws, perhaps due to public pressure, to target our community, restrict it and ridicule its rituals;
- Incessant hate campaigns, which led to slaying six of the best community members who were praying at Quebec’s Grand Mosque;
- Participation by so-called community members, including former and current activists, in the campaigns; that is happening either because of their vengefulness against all-community-related facets, or their self-issues and personal problems, which they wish to blame on the community that has opened doors to care for them and back them financially and morally and via media.
- Enticing activists with certain bargains to make them quit their activism;
- Volunteering some community representatives into the political and community arenas, whereby some of them have changed their convictions, giving up on certain inviolabilities and joining engagements falsely pictured as pro-community;
- Restricting institutions whose policies do not match the consecutive governments’; whereas certain institutions are backed or funded, others are marginalised or unfunded. Enticements are as well made to recruit some dreamers, who wish to fulfill personal rights and aspirations by yielding to their enticers’ pursuits;
- The federal government’s endorsement of laws which incriminate opposition to the Israeli occupation;
- And the endorsement, as well as the plans of some municipal powers to draft laws contrasting our community’s right to express concern over the sufferance of its people in their motherland.
In parallel, interior challenges are threatening to many community families, who fear their children might divert from the accepted codes of behaviour and lose their identities. That fact actually necessitates cooperation to provide resilient grounds for preserving identity.
Hereupon, the discords emblazed within the community recently, which hadn’t surfaced earlier, bring no good tidings. As the Canadian Muslim Forum appears to be in confrontation with prominent female outsiders, it seems more serious issues are hidden. Though we might be unaware of the consequences today, the conflicts might be hiding plans that are pictured as pro-community or supportive of certain community groups. But they are definitely not bringing any good to the community, and their setbacks can be clearly seen by the sane.
I know the CMF, its president Samer Majzoub and its active members well. We know their devotion and commitment, and the achievements their efforts have led to. For instance, they ran an across-Canada campaign back in 2016 to set foot for the launching of “Petition e-411” and collecting 70,000 signatures, making it the greatest petition in Canadian history. Adopted by parliament, it led, twice, to the condemnation of Islamophobia and eventually to the parliament’s endorsement of “Bill 103”, which included recommendations against Islamophobia and later led to an achievement in which others took part: January 29th was declared the “National Day of Remembrance of the Quebec City Mosque Attack and Action against Islamophobia.”
I also know Dr Samira el-Aouni very well, and Ms Samaa al-Abiari and their roles and tireless action to make use of the community stage to defend it. Both women have as well participated in many bridge-building events and have set room for meetings with non-Muslim communities. So each has had an important role in defending hijab against the anti-hijab campaign, “Law 21” and Islamophobia.
Knowing the people on both sides very well, I am compelled to ask, sincerely and very painfully, whether there is a third party that’s benefiting off deepening and flaming the discord between them. Otherwise, why have all mediations by Quebec’s Council of Imams failed? Why has the council’s last attempt to resolve the situation failed? Who and what is preventing both parties from meeting face-to-face to discuss things like they should? Why are appalling, large defamation campaigns being made when they’re frustrating and confusing the community in general? Why are accusations being made from a distance when they’re creating a wave of blazing gossips?
I believe these are thoughtful questions that must be answered very clearly, for today we’re facing a very different and threatening stage, which might lead our community to an abyss. If that happens, none will get out in good shape, nor will all the defendable causes and the image of the religion we claim we represent. People we used to see as big change makers, after God, are now exchanging harm; the discords have resulted in blames, accusations of treachery, filing lawsuits, in addition to all kinds of outrageous threats. And the good Samaritans can now do noting as they’re being left unheard.
If this rancorous reality is left unchanged, we will be completely destroyed in the near future, and none will bother to appreciate our achievements. In that case, the community’s only going to curse whomever was the instigator!