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Tarek Fatah | TSO | Toronto | April 10, 2019:: While legislators in Ontario were bending over backward last week, flaunting their ‘anti-Islamophobia’ credentials, an Islamic Centre in Toronto was facing accusations of ‘Hinduphobia’ from the largely apolitical community of Hindu Canadians.
Their angst was directed at the Noor Cultural Centre that was hosting an event titled “Dalit and Muslim persecution in India,” days before India went to the polls to pass verdict on Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Had the Noor Cultural Centre, which doubles as a mosque, featured speakers from both sides of the Indian political divide, allegations of ‘Hinduphobia’ or anti-India hate would have had no foundation. However, both invited speakers made no secret of their hostility towards Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, the BJP.
In its wisdom the Noor Centre not only restricted the speakers to those who bashed segments of Indian society, but they also threatened any dissenters in the audience with expulsion.
Despite the fact elections were taking place in India’s Islamic neighbour Maldives as well as in Turkey with turmoil in both Sudan and Libya, moderator Khadijah Kanji made no attempt to make even a cursory mention of the troubles affecting the Muslim world, focusing exclusively on the theme of ‘Islamophobia’ in India.
I asked Ms. Kanji via email if the Noor Centre had ever hosted a country-specific event to discuss issues that were creating a collapse in societies far more in trouble than India.
Has the Noor Cultural Centre hosted a discussion on Pakistan’s genocide in Balochistan? What about Turkey’s genocide of Armenians or their occupation of Kurdistan? Or Iran’s treatment of women and the plight of Hindus?
In her response the Noor Centre spokesperson said, “Our approach is always to cover issues that are marginalized in our public discourse here.” She pointed me towards the Noor Centre website, but there too I found no mention of any of the subjects I had raised, other than a lecture on ISIS and another about screening a documentary “Among the Believers” about a radical mosque in Pakistan.
In its over ten-year existence, Noor Centre does not appear to have hosted a single discussion on Iran’s oppression of its women, the Taliban’s ruthlessness towards its own citizens, the Kurdish struggle against ISIS and certainly not a word on Islamic Brunei where gays will now be stoned to death.
Only India, the world’s largest democracy, with 29 languages, six religions and a 5,000-year-old continuous civilization where, even today, people flee to seek refuge, became the focus of derision and contempt.
The two-hour discussion, (an audio recording of which the Sun has obtained) became so visceral that the Muslim speaker Sanober Umar made the outlandish claim that White supremacists were in cahoots with what she referred to as the ‘Hindu Right.’
When a questioner asked how she felt about Mr. Modi giving equality rights to Indian Muslim women, denied to them for 70 years, Ms. Umar mocked the Indian prime minister stating Mr. Modi should be sent to prison for abandoning his wife.
The other speaker, Chinnaiah Jangam chastised the Hindus at the event, mocking them as “middle-aged men” in their 60s and 70s after some of them expressed outrage at his suggestion that the Hindu holy epic the Ramayana wasn’t one book, but had many versions.
Imagine the outrage if a Hindu pandit or Buddhist scholar had expressed such views about the Qur’an. Charlie Hebdo is a reminder of what can happen.
If Canada does not restrict politics in its religious institutions, even if they are otherwise known as ‘cultural centres,’ we as a society will suffer immensely. For a mosque to host a speaker mocking the holy book of any religion is to play with fire.
Courtesy: Toronto Sun Online.