Sometimes Tough Love Is What You Need

A community member tries to open the door of the 'Nizam-i Alem' mosque in Vienna after it was closed as part of seven radical mosques that the Austrian government announced they would shut down. (Photo: ALEX HALADA/AFP/Getty Images)
A community member tries to open the door of the Nizam-i Alem mosque in Vienna after it was closed as part of seven radical mosques that the Austrian government announced it would shut down. (Photo: ALEX HALADA/AFP/Getty Images)

In October 2014, there was a shooting in Ottawa in which a Canadian soldier was killed. Following this terrorist attack, I wrote an open letter to all Canadians in which I made some strong recommendations to deal with radicalization. One of them was to temporarily shut down the mosques that are known to promote violence and hatred and have become cells where radicalization is taking place.

All hell broke loose, and I was lambasted from east to west for even suggesting that these mosques be shut down. Even BBC’s Hardtalk host in his interview with me grilled me about this suggestion.

Today, I read the news that Chancellor Sebastian Kurz of Austria just ordered the closing of seven mosques, banned some imams who are paid by Turkey and stopped foreign funding coming into Austrian mosques.

This is the best news I could have heard in the holy month of Ramadhan.

Of course there is a huge backlash with cries of racism and Islamophobia. Wannabe Caliph Erdogan, dictating to a democratic country, released a statement in which he said, “Austria’s move to expel imams and close mosques is part of an anti-Islamic, racist, discriminatory populous wave in the country.”

I don’t think so. I believe (and have said time and again) that right after 9/11, Muslim communities in the West should have taken the onus for the problem and started to look at where messages of hate are emanating from. Because we know it’s when hate is taught from the pulpit that radicalization and violence take deep root. We also know there are some places of worship that have been guilty of perpetuating messages of hate and division. As a result, some mosques that should only be places of worship have turned into places for recruitment for the Islamist agenda.

When Muslims themselves deflect from the problems emanating from within their own communities and look the other way (as they have been doing), they create a vacuum which others fill. Then when authorities take action like in Austria for the safety and security of their own land, Muslims scream “racism.” This has been a constant downward spiral in Muslim communities living in the West. Their silence has been deafening.

Take for example the case of grooming gangs in Europe. Muslims should have been the first to speak out and take action. However they remained silent and ignored the crisis until it came to a head. Others jumped in and exposed the problem after which cries of bigotry and racism could be heard.

Added to this we have Muslim Brotherhood-sponsored organizations thriving in Western lands which add to the “victim ideology” and never do anything to openly challenge the rhetoric and actions of the Islamists. In fact, organizations like CAIR that were not invited to the White House Iftar last week, protested in Washington to show that they are “victimized.”

Muslims now have to swallow a bitter pill and look upon this as “tough love.” The actions of the Austrian government are going resonate across Europe and UK, and it’s about time these governments do something to show they are not going to tolerate foreign funded hate in their countries. This will only benefit Western Muslims in the long run.

In fact, this was one of my recommendations to the United States Congressional Committee on Home-Grown Terrorism – to stop foreign funding from countries that promote hate and have an abysmal human rights record.

The next step should be for Western leaders to ban organizations like Hamas, Hezbollah and the Muslim Brotherhood from operating in the West.

 

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Raheel Raza
Raheel Raza is ​an adviser to Clarion Project. ​She is an award-winning author, journalist and filmmaker on the topics of jihad and sharia. She is president of The Council for Muslims Facing Tomorrow, and an activist for human rights, gender equality, and diversity.

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