Tahir Gora is the Director-General of the Progressive Muslims Institute Canada. The group says it “is against all sorts of Islamic extremism and terrorism. The group opposes gender inequality. The group denounces armed Jihad and Shariah Law.” The organization recently held a rally against Islamic terrorism and extremism in Toronto.
The following is ClarionProject.org’s Ryan Mauro’s interview with Tahir Gora:
Ryan Mauro: What prompted you to form the Progressive Muslims Institute Canada?
Tahir Gora: I arrived in Canada fourteen years ago. Since then, I started struggling with Islamic issues in Canada.
In the beginning, my weekly Urdu-language Journal confronted the Islamic extremists’ bigotry. Then in 2000, I formed the New Islam Foundation that proposed a moderate version of Islam. I always supported Dr. Daniel Pipes’ Islam vs. Islamism philosophy. I became an ally with Irshad Manji’s Moral Courage Project.
Later, I joined the Muslim Canadian Congress and served as a Secretary General for couple of years. In the meantime, I wrote hundreds articles condemning sharia law, burkas, honor killing, gender inequality, jihad and terrorism in the name of Islam and suggesting the separation of politics and Islam as a solution.
Finally, I formed the Progressive Muslims Institute Canada with a broader perspective that, in my mind, this body should serve as a modern Islamic center to meet the needs of the progressive and liberal-minded Muslim majority in the West.
This institute should build a modern Islamic centre where spiritual and social needs of progressive Muslims can be fulfilled. We will be building a modern Islamic research center as well. We will denounce terrorism and bigotry in the name of Islam on each and every step.
Our first committee, the Muslim Committee against Anti-Semitism, has already held four milestone seminars in order to suggest measures against anti-Semitism.
Mauro: Only about two dozen people took part in your anti-terrorism rally last month, according to the Toronto Star. Why do you think the turnout was so low?
Gora: We didn’t have enough time to contact scattered progressive Muslims because we wanted to stage the anti-terrorism demonstration in a timely manner in the wake of series of incidents such as the Boston Marathon bombing, the slaying of a British soldier by Islamists in the UK and the Canadian VIA Rail terror plots. So it was more about message than numbers and our message was delivered very well. In the fall, we will be organizing an anti-terrorism conference.
Mauro: In the U.S., prominent Muslim organizations brand their critics as “Islamophobes.” Do you agree that pointing out the Muslim Brotherhood origins of groups like CAIR, ISNA and NAIT makes you an “Islamophobe” or an anti-Muslim bigot?
Gora: This “Islamophobia” term is another tactic used by traditional Islamic organization to overlook their responsibilities in terms of intermingling in the US, Canada and other Western countries. I have written a very responsible article on “How Muslims Created Islamophobia” in the Huffington Post. This article answers our position very clearly. We don’t agree with the Muslim Brotherhood and Jamaat-e-Islami-type agenda.
Mauro: What’s the biggest barrier that Muslim organizations like yours face?
Gora: Lack of resources. Traditional Islamic organizations get millions and millions dollars from Saudi Arabia, Iran and even our Western governments to spread their 6th century medieval ideology, gender inequality, armed jihad and so on. We don’t have a penny to counter these issues, but still we are contributing as much as possible, which is the need of our times. No business entrepreneur, no government looks at us. Politicians, media and policy makers run after traditional Islamic organizations.
Mauro: How does your organization interpret sharia law as it pertains to governance and politics?
Gora: We are the clear opponents of shariah law. Our Facebook Page clearly says “PMIC is against all sorts of Islamic extremism and terrorism. The group opposes gender inequality. The group denounces armed Jihad and Shariah Law. It promotes liberal, progressive and secular values among Muslims.”
Ryan Mauro is the ClarionProject.org’s National Security Analyst, a fellow with the Clarion Project and is frequently interviewed on Fox News.