Former Toronto Star columnist and editorial page editor Haroon Siddiqui recently accused Sun Media and Postmedia of pandering to Islamophobia.
Notwithstanding the fact that Sun Media and Postmedia give far more prominence to secular liberal Muslim columnists than the Star, it’s time to put Siddiqui’s role as an editor and columnist in perspective, as he fanned the flames of victimhood among Muslims, while looking the other way as Islamism spread.
Let’s begin with 2001. In February 2001, while the 9/11 terrorists, 15 of 19 of whom turned out to be Saudis, were arriving in America and planning their attack, the Star’s Siddiqui was on a tour of Saudi Arabia writing a series of positive columns about the medieval dictatorship.
On February 4, 2001, Siddiqui praised developments in the kingdom, showered accolades on then crown prince Abdullah, and said this about the unelected Saudi Consultative Assembly:
“Members are grilling cabinet ministers, even if away from live television cameras. Whatever else their shortcomings, neither group is short on talent. Eighteen of the 24 ministers and 58 of the 90 Majlis members have PhDs – surely the most educated lawmakers anywhere.”
If Saudi Arabia — with its medieval treatment of women, fanatical religious police and global funding of Wahhabism, the extreme religious theology of the jihadists — struck Siddiqui’s fancy, the Islamic Republic of Iran came in for equal praise.
On February 27, 2000, Siddiqui wrote: “Iran has reconfirmed its position as the most democratic country in the Muslim world, with arguably the freest press and certainly the best record on gender equality.” He went to say, “it is stunning how revolutionary Islamic Iran has empowered women, after initially suppressing them.”
The Toronto Star has given a voice to some of Canada’s most radical Islamist groups.
Remember, he’s talking about Iran, which would go on to violently suppress demonstrations for democracy in 2009 and is a known state sponsor of terrorism.
Two days after the horror of 9/11 struck America, on September 13, 2001, Siddiqui was at the ready with a column deflecting blame from the terrorists, who had taken radical Islam to its logical extreme. Siddiqui wrote that the attacks “represent the dark underbelly of globalization,” meaning Western capitalism. “America was targeted,” he speculated, “because it … is indifferent to the suffering of too many peoples, from Afghanistan to Chechnya to the Middle East.”
In the post-911 era, Siddiqui was often the champion of all things Islamist, including Muslim mediation/arbitration courts for divorce proceedings in Canada, while attacking Muslim opponents of sharia.
Siddiqui, for example, mocked a Quebec Muslim legislator, Fatima Houda-Pepin, who led the charge against creeping sharia, as “reportedly not a practising Muslim” and suggested she was “reviled” by many Muslims.
On January 21, 2001, during an infamous case of a young Nigerian woman who was sentenced by a Nigerian sharia court to 100 lashes, he trivialized the outcry against the punishment. Defending sharia as “good law,” Siddiqui wrote, “The sharia, however, is popular. It has restored order to a corrupt, lawless society.”
Instead of falsely accusing others of Islamophobia, perhaps Siddiqui should reflect on his own lack of contribution in fighting the forces of international jihadism. Perhaps the Star should as well, given its editorial policy of giving a voice to some of Canada’s most radical Islamist groups.
Because at every opportunity Siddiqui and the Star have had to do so, including the reporting of his recent lecture in the Star, they have chosen the wrong side.
Tarek Fatah, a founder of the Muslim Canadian Congress and columnist at the Toronto Sun.