These are interesting days for Tarek Fatah.
Mr. Fatah, if you are unfamiliar with him, is the self-proclaimed Marxist who
has, of late, waged a relentless "war" against "Islamofascism", a
fight that he claims his former "fellow travelers" have all but
abandoned. He began his chameleon like search for political and public
success and attention as an Ontario New Democrat in the employ of both
Bob Rae and Howard Hampton (during which time he ran for the NDP in
1995), then became a Liberal only to abandon the Liberal Party when his
leadership candidate, again Bob Rae, lost.
Fatah was a founding member and early spokesperson for the Muslim
Canadian Congress (MCC) under whose banner, as we shall see, he still
appears at public events.
Fatah has made the fight against the alleged threat of
"Islamofascism" his personal crusade, abhorring the supposed danger to
Western freedoms and universal human rights that Islamic fundamentalism
poses. He has put himself out as a staunch defender of women's rights,
as pro-gay marriage (in fact, his stated reason for resigning from his
formal positions in the MCC in 2006 was due to alleged death threats
he and his family received as a result of this stance), and as a
"far-left" secular activist whose positions have been betrayed by most
of the rest of the left.
He seems to have fashioned himself as some kind of second rate Christopher Hitchens.
This narrative has brought him media attention from those on the
right, and he has appeared on Glenn Beck's Fox News program, is a
darling of the Sun News circuit, and has landed himself a couple of
radio gigs on Toronto's right wing talk radio station CFRB 1010.
Regardless of what one makes of Fatah's overall claims about the
imminent threat to Canada of "Islamofascism" (and I do not think much
of them), for a self-proclaimed secularist, anti-fascist, pro-gay,
pro-democracy and pro-woman advocate, Fatah keeps very curious company.
This past Wednesday, July 18, Fatah shared the stage at an event The Return of Omar Khadr: the Unholy Alliance of Islamism and the Left that was held at and under the auspices of the Canada Christian College and
that featured, among others, Meir Weinstein, the Director of the Jewish
Defense League - Canada as a keynote speaker. Fatah appeared on the
bill as a spokesperson for the MCC.
This is a fascinating context for him, given his supposed beliefs, to appear in at all.
Canada Christian College, an organization that claims to be a charity entirely devoted, according to its own tax returns,
to "seminaries and other religious colleges", shares space with its
President, Charles McVety's virulently homophobic, anti-feminist and
anti-choice Institute for Canadian Values. In the past, I have raised questions about the Institute (both in an article specifically about McVety and in one about right-wing "charities"
in general, co-authored by Natalie Lochwin) and its apparent use of a
variety of supposed charity names, none of which seem to exist in any
Canada Revenue Agency records, other than the CRA record of the college
itself, which is supposedly non-political and dedicated to bible study
Fatah, the "gay friendly Muslim leader" as he was described by Xtra, a
gay and lesbian newspaper, and who claimed, as we have noted, that he
suffered death threats due to his apparent courage around the marriage
equality issue, must have known that McVety is not only a tireless
activist against gay marriage but is enough of a bigot that his
reprehensible advertisements, one of which still appears on his "Institute's" website, against teaching tolerance towards gays to school children forced the National Post to apologize for having abetted his intolerance. McVety has also spewed his hate towards gays in front of Ontario provincial parliamentary committees
on the issue of Gay-Straight Alliances in high-schools, essentially
claiming they would force his teenage daughter to find out that anal sex
exists among other supposed abominations.
Then there is Weinstein and the JDL. The original American wing of
the JDL, of course, was seen by authorities in the United States as a
terrorist organization for much of its existence. The Canadian wing of
the JDL is notable for its blind dedication to promoting its own form
of Jewish fascism, no matter who it need align itself with.
The JDL has worked hard to create alliances with a variety of
European fascist and hard right parties. In just one example in 2011 the
JDL organized a support rally for the overtly fascist English Defense League. The EDL, as one can see from its website,
is not only a racist organization, it features pictures of flag waving
skinheads, new takes in its symbolism on traditional fascist
iconography, and claims that without its "courage" the people of England
face "revolution, civil war or subjugation". And this is all on its
website front page!
This attempt by the JDL at an alliance with English fascists was
forcefully condemned by the Canadian Jewish Congress and its head,
In addition, the JDL organized a reprehensible protest in conjunction with Hindu fascist Ron Banerjee and his Canadian Hindu Advocacy (whose sole advocacy for Hindus seems to consist of attacking Islamics) and the Christian Heritage Group,
against a teen Muslim prayer group who, not funded in anyway by tax
dollars, used an empty high school cafeteria for prayer. Sadly, this
campaign was also supported by some misguided "leftist" secularists,
until they caught whiff of the stench of the company they were keeping.
Among his many outrageous and vile comments, Banerjee has said
"In its entire history, Islam, the Islamic civilization has invented
and contributed less to human advancement than a pack of donkeys.”
According to the JDL, Islam "
never gives up what it conquers, be it religion, culture, language or
life. Neither does it make apologies or any real effort at moral
progress. It is the least open to dialogue and the most self-absorbed.
It is convinced of its own perfection, yet brutally shuns
self-examination and represses criticism."
warn against the "liberal" political correctness that would "bring
other religion down to the level of Islam merely to avoid the
existential truth that this it is both different and dangerous."
There is, obviously, no nuance here and no attempt to note that, as
with Judaism and Christianity, Islam has many different currents of
thought. To share the stage with those who espouse these bigoted views
rather openly is a statement in-and-of itself of political reaction
against notions of tolerance, internationalism and secularism.
What is especially notable about this is that all of these groups,
the Charles McVety colleges, institutes and "charities", the JDL and
their allies on the far right are all as equally opposed to gay rights
and equality, religious tolerance, women's rights and choice and
non-racial and non-religious and secular ideas of democracy,
internationalism and modernity as the "Islamofascists" that the
secularist Fatah claims he is "fighting". And they are a far greater
threat to these freedoms and ideas in the Canadian context, most
significantly in the case of Evangelical Christians, many of whom are in
government in the country right now. These include homophobes,
creationists, anti-choice lunatics, and other religious zealots who
populate the parliamentary benches of the governing party.
There is no alliance more "unholy" than that, Tarek.