(This column originally appeared in the Toronto Sun)
Most Canadians understand the difference between peaceful Muslims and the radicalized sub-section of Muslims who join violent jihad.
It’s important to draw this distinction and to point out that most Muslims in Canada are not violent, nor do they support terrorism or condone violence.
In other words, most Muslims in Canada are not like Omar Khadr.
And yet, in the aftermath of Khadr’s big cash payout from the Trudeau government, many activists are trying to blur this important distinction between peaceful, Canada-loving Muslims and violent, anti-Western jihadists.
Some activists on the left claim anti-Muslim bigotry is at the heart of the overwhelming opposition to Trudeau’s decision to apologize and settle with Khadr.
They claim those who oppose Khadr and his multi-million-dollar payout are nothing more than bigots and racists.
Maher Arar went so far as to say on twitter, “Omar Khadr would not have been mistreated (or) demonized if he were not Muslim.”
Not only is this wrong, it’s unhelpful to the debate.
Suggesting Khadr’s detention at Guantanamo stems from the fact he is Muslim ignores every other fact about his case.
Khadr was not some average Canadian teenager who was arrested and mistreated because of his religion.
He was a radicalized Islamist who, under his father’s guidance, joined the violent jihad.
Unlike most Muslims in Canada, Omar Khadr was a member of a terrorist group, al-Qaida.
He fought against Canada and our NATO allies in Afghanistan.
He was convicted of killing an American soldier and wounding another, convicted of war crimes and terrorism, and admitted his guilt.
(He is now appealing his guilty plea and says he only confessed so that he could get out of Guantanamo and serve the rest of his sentence in Canada.)
Khadr was part of a small percentage of Canadian Muslims who pick up arms and kill in the name of their religion.
Far from being persecuted for his faith, Khadr was detained on a battlefield. He ended up in Guantanamo because of his actions, not his religion.
Similarly, 71% of Canadians polled take issue with his cash payout not because of some unwarranted bias, but because of what Khadr did.
When drawing the important distinction between peaceful Muslims and violent jihadists, Khadr falls into the latter category.
To be clear, he says he no longer holds these views.
But he is an example of a Muslim who was radicalized, hated the West and who believed in using violence to reach his political goals.
Khadr was not representative of Muslims in Canada and the Canadian reaction to Khadr’s settlement is not reflective of how Canadians feel about Muslims.
Canadians are perfectly capable of telling the difference between a jihadist and their friendly Muslim neighbour.
Unlike in some other parts of the world, most Muslims in Canada reject the ideology that led Khadr to an al-Qaida compound in Afghanistan.
A recent Environics study on Muslims in Canada found 3% of Muslims surveyed had heard violent extremism promoted in their mosque and almost 90% wanted their leaders to work with government agencies to address and stomp out radicalization.
Most Muslims in Canada oppose terrorism and...(READ MORE)