The MCC describes itself as a “think tank that provides a voice to Muslims who are not represented by existing organizations; organizations that are either sectarian or ethnocentric, largely authoritarian, and influenced by a fear of modernity and an aversion to joy.”
The organization believes “in a progressive, liberal, pluralistic, democratic and secular society where everyone has freedom of religion,” in the separation of religion and state and opposes gender apartheid.
The following is Clarion Project National Security Analyst Ryan Mauro’s interview with Mumtaz Khan:
Ryan Mauro: What caused you to get involved in the anti-Islamist cause?
Mumtaz Khan: The increasing intolerance. The Islam I knew from my childhood to adulthood was inclusive, tolerant and plural. It never discouraged women from taking part in any cultural, social and economic activities. I had never seen the hijab before moving to Karachi, Pakistan for college education in 1980.
I witnessed the change a few years after the jihad in Afghanistan against the Soviet invasion began. As a result of the jihad, youth were attracted to the Pakistani madrasses [religious schools]. Later, the same youth joined Pakistani militant organizations and got involved in the Kashmir jihad against India.
We secular nationalists were the first targets and victims of the thriving jihad industry in Pakistan that wanted to ideologically expand across the world as part of the pan-Islamist movement. That movement had concerned me while I was in Pakistan, but when I came to Canada in search of safety and freedom of opinion, I was further troubled when I noticed how the minority Islamists were constructing the narrative of Muslim-Canadians.
Liberal Muslim-Canadians are accused of being anti-Islam and agents of the West and the Jews by Islamists. Canadian politicians seem to be little concerned about the Islamists’ growth. 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: The threat is rooted in the ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood that is subscribed to by many Muslim organizations that work for the same Islamist agenda. They openly support, or at least never oppose, the Taliban, the Muslim Brotherhood, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Hezbollah and other radical organizations preaching anti-Western and anti-liberal values.
They come together to protest against the West or the U.S. whenever there is an issue involving Muslims in conflict with the West. They never utter a word on the side of the West and that is worrying for me.
Mauro: What is your evaluation of the Muslim-Canadian community? Are they mostly moderate? Are they increasingly moderate or increasingly Islamist?
Khan: The majority of the Muslim-Canadian community dresses and acts moderately. A majority of women don’t wear the hijab and the majority of men don’t grow beards, but the worldview of the Muslim-Canadian community is what must be determined.
The determination can be made by questioning average members of the community on issues like 9/11, the death of Osama Bin Laden, Muslim Brotherhood, Hezbollah, terrorism, gender equality and human rights. When these questions are asked, there is often a frightening anti-Western picture that involves Western conspiracies to discredit Islam and Muslims.
In this regard, it is important to find out who is constructing their worldview and political narrative. Certainly, it is not the Canadian media or the liberal Muslim-Canadians. It is the Islamists working under different names. That agenda merits the attention of everyone in order to secure our country and values.
Mauro: How do you reconcile your faith, including Sharia Law, with your belief in secular democracy?
Khan: As I mentioned, the Islam I grew up with was completely different—moderate and inclusive, where religion had nothing to do with politics, economics and social issues.
Islamic history tells us that the decline of the Muslim world started long ago when they turned their back on rationality and reason after the 13th century. Whoever talks about rationality and reason in faith is still framed as anti-Islam and an agent of the West. The only way to reverse this decline and to reconcile our faith is through separation of state and religion.
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.