Thank you, honourable Chairman of the Standing Committee on Public Safety, honourable parliamentarians, and ladies and gentlemen. My name is Tahir Aslam Gora. I am director general of the Canadian Thinkers' Forum and secretary general of the Coalition of Progressive Canadian Muslim Organizations. I am accompanied by my colleague Ms. Arooj Shahida, director of the Canadian Thinkers' Forum.
The Canadian Thinkers' Forum is a small not-for-profit organization and think tank focused on the delicacies and complexities of human diversity and globalization. We run awareness programs against anti-Semitism, Muslim women abuse, honour killing, and radicalization. We also design deradicalization programs.
We have also been conducting study reports titled “Growing Islamic Radicalization in Canada” for the past three years. Our findings so far in regard to those study reports are quite alarming and troublesome. In the shadow of our own study reports, the government's proposed Bill C-51 seems to us very vital and important.
Within our limited resources, we have discovered through our online studies that more than 2,000 young Canadian Muslim individuals are radicalized to the extent that they feel grievances against Canada over its involvement in Afghanistan and now in the Middle East.
Through our online and on-the-ground studies, we have discovered that more than 20,000 individuals associated with Islamic centres in Canada want to replace Canadian secular laws with sharia laws. More than 20,000 individuals are actively affiliated with Canadian chapters of extremist Islamic organizations such as the Muslim Brotherhood, Jamaat-e-Islami, and Hizb ut-Tahrir. Over 100 individuals in Canada came under our study radar as supporting ISIS or ISIS-related ideology. The majority of the Canadian Muslim population strongly disagrees with Canada's support of Israel over the terrorist organization Hamas.
In our study areas of Islamic radicalization, we are quite concerned about growing activities of Islamic nature in Canada. Having been born and raised in Muslim families, we are well aware of a certain mindset in our diaspora that is leading to jihad ideology and damages to our own values.
Over the past two decades, many new mosques and Islamic schools and centres were founded in the greater Toronto area and other parts of Canada in order to fulfill the demands and needs of the growing Muslim community, which is estimated at over 800,000 in the GTA alone. Of course, there is no harm in increasing the number of Islamic centres, but it alarms us when we see continuing teaching and alienating trends through those centres condemning the host society and its core values. Sadly, most Islamic centres and their imams are taking their followers in the opposite direction.
The following are the factors at play in most Islamic centres in Canada and elsewhere that are the root causes of the Islamist radical mindset: number one, gender inequality; number two, promoting political Islam through the burka and niqab; number three, supporting draconian laws such as sharia laws; number four, hatred towards the host society; number five, hatred towards other religions; number six, practising and trying to implement a medieval religious lifestyle; number seven, advocating alienation within the Muslim masses from the host society; number eight, denouncing democratic, liberal values; number nine, rejecting freedom of expression; and number ten, preaching the doctrine of armed jihad. If they don't support the notion of jihad openly, they do not denounce it either.
Having mentioned those factors, I would like to clarify that Muslim men and women adherent to Islam's medieval ideology and their Islamic centres do not represent the roughly one million Muslims in Canada, but they are vocal, politically active, and otherwise noticeable. The majority of Canadian Muslims are nine-to-five folks, and they want to live normal, regular lives, despite their certain mindset on certain issues. They are also victims of extremism and terrorism back home and in Canada as well.
The government's proposed Bill C-51, when passed by Parliament, shall help Canadian Muslims to curb extremist elements here, too. Apart from it, we shall urge this honourable House to work on other measures in order to integrate the Muslim community well into society. Our government should introduce a program that designs a one-year training course for imams so that they do not go against our secular liberal values. Also, our government should make sure that the educational curriculum of Islamic schools does not have any amount of hatred towards anyone and does not carry the doctrine of jihad. All imams, Islamic schools, mosques, and Islamic centres should denounce Islamic jihad on a regular basis in their sermons, websites, pamphlets, and posters.
In the end, I am sharing alarming comments by a London, Ontario imam. He equated our armed forces with criminals on his Facebook page last November. He wrote:
No Muslim should honour the memory of those war criminals by wearing a poppy, just as no one would honour a criminal that killed his or her mother and father.
We urge all our political parties to leave their partisan politics behind when it comes to dealing with terrorism and radicalization. The government has introduced Bill C-51, the anti-terrorism act, 2015, which is an important bill that seeks to enact the security of Canada.
Thank you very much.