The Point de Bascule blog has discovered that three directors of the National Council of Canadian Muslims, formerly known as the Council on American-Islamic Relations-Canada (CAIR-Canada), have endorsed the Muslim Brotherhood and its ideology.
Current NCCM director Khadija Haffajee has held official positions with the Islamic Society of North America, which the U.S. Justice Department says is a Muslim Brotherhood entity. The Canadian chapter of ISNA lost its charitable status last year because of evidence that it is funding Pakistani terrorists and major accounting issues.
Haffajee joined ISNA’s board of directors in 1997 and won additional terms in 2001 and 2004. During that time, she was on the editorial advisory board of ISNA’s Islamic Horizons magazine. As Point de Bascule found out, a 1999 issue put Muslim Brotherhood founder Hassan al-Banna on the cover with the heading, “A Martyr of Our Times.”
The article, published under Haffajee’s supervision, described him as a “true guide” and “martyr of da’wah who offered the Eternal Message.” The author, Osman Abdel-Magid Ahmed, recalls meeting al-Banna when he was 13 years old and being “mesmerized” with his “describing the gallantry of the mujahideen in Palestine and their martyrdom.”
It portrays al-Banna as pro-democratic but, while he approved of elections, he wanted democracy to be within the limited confines of sharia. The article says he “chided the government, the parliamentarians and the ulema [Muslim legal scholars] to implement Islamic laws in the country.”
He preached that “it was unjustified that laws governing the Muslim people should contradict the teachings of Islam and the rules enshrined in these two sources,” specifically sharia’s standards on penal, civil and commercial law.
The ISNA piece implied that it wants to assume al-Banna’s mantle, stating: “It is hard to imagine that we will easily find someone to fill al-Banna’s place, but at least a collective leadership should emerge to take on that task.”
The second NCCM director with documented sympathies for the Brotherhood is Jamal Badawi. His name is listed in a 1992 U.S. Muslim Brotherhood directory, he has praised Hamas terrorists as “martyrs” and he has preached in support of “combative jihad.” He is a member of the International Union of Muslim Scholars, a Brotherhood organ led by its terrorism-supporting spiritual leader, Yousef al-Qaradawi.
In 2004, Badawi said regarding al-Banna: “More than any other individual, he has epitomized twentieth century Islamic thought and ideology.” He said the Brotherhood founder has been his “most inspirational” scholar.
The third pro-Brotherhood NCCM director is Wael Haddara. At the same time as he was leading NCCM/CAIR-CAN, he was president of the Muslim Association of Canada. Badawi was also a director of this organization.
In 2005, the Muslim Association of Canada’s website was remarkably frank about its origins. It said its “modern roots can be traced to the Islamic revival of the early twentieth century, culminating in the movement of the Muslim Brotherhood.”
As for its objective today, it said it “adopts and strives to implement Islam … as understood in its contemporary context by the late Imam, Hassan Albanna, the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood. MAC regards this ideology as the best representation of Islam…”
After Haddara left CAIR-CAN in April 2012, he became a senior advisor to Egyptian President Morsi when the Muslim Brotherhood ran the country.
In addition to these three, former CAIR-CAN chair Sheema Khan has promoted Brotherhood spiritual leader Yousef al-Qaradawi as a “renowned Muslim scholar.”
Last July, CAIR-CAN underwent a makeover by changing its name to the National Council of Canadian Muslims. It tried to deceptively distance itself from the U.S.-based CAIR that has extensively documented extremism and links to Hamas, but it didn’t fool the office of Prime Minister Harper.
When CAIR-CAN/NCCM went after Harper for the “anti-Muslim” activists he brought with him on a trip to Israel, his office replied, “We will not take seriously criticism from an organization with documented ties to a terrorist organization such as Hamas.”
The NCCM turned to lawfare to intimidate the Prime Minister and other politicians who may dare to challenge them in the future. It filed a notice of libel demanding an “unequivocal apology and retraction of the Defamatory Words in a form agreeable to NCCM.”
The lawsuit won’t succeed. The U.S.-based CAIR has acknowledged its links to its Canadian affiliate too many times. Press releases have referred to it as its “office in Canada” and a 2003 affidavit by CAIR-CAN’s chair said CAIR “has direct control over the character and quality of all activities of [CAIR-CAN] including the use of its trademark and trade name.”
But winning isn’t the point. Intimidation is the point. The purpose is to dissuade other officials and persons of influence from pointing out the group’s Islamist background.
In an article for the Clarion Project, Tahir Aslam Gora, Secretary-General of the Coalition of Progressive Canadian Muslim Organizations, took Harper's side. He urged the Prime Minister not to apologize.
In a recent interview with Clarion, the president of the Muslim Canadian Congress, Mumtaz Khan, said he is concerned about how “minority Islamists were constructing the narrative of Muslim-Canadians.”
“Canadian politicians are trying to win over these Islamists instead of the liberal Muslims in order to win elections and this will have serious political implications for Canada if it is not taken seriously,” Khan said.
Canada does not need to settle for Muslim groups that praise the Muslim Brotherhood. Alternatives exist. They may not be as powerful, but they will be if they are upheld as legitimate interfaith partners.
Ryan Mauro is the ClarionProject.org’s National Security Analyst, a fellow with the Clarion Project and is frequently interviewed on top-tier TV stations as an expert on counterterrorism and Islamic extremism.