GUEST COLUMN: Extremist group that cried ‘wolf’

Members of the Markham Synchro club — shooting victim Julianna Kozis, 10, was a member — paying their respects during a vigil at Alexander the Great Parkette along the Danforth in Toronto, Ont. on Wednesday, July 25, 2018. (Ernest Doroszuk/Toronto Sun)

By Jari Qudrat

We all know the story.

The shepherd boy watching over village sheep who’d cry ‘Wolf! Wolf! Wolf!’ and cause panic in the village. Yet, when the villagers would arrive, there would be no wolf.

We’re seeing the exact same phenomena by extremist groups today, but with a totally different agenda.

The last few months have been tragic for Toronto. Arguably the most inclusive and welcoming city in the world, struck with terror, grief and violence, causing great pain and anguish for its loyal constituents.

Date back to April, when Alek Minassian allegedly drove onto the sidewalk on Yonge St., wreaking havoc in our peaceful city as part of a vehicle-ramming attack, which took the lives of 10 innocent people and left another 14 injured.

Then, just last week, 29-year-old Faisal Hussain opened fire on innocent residents on Danforth Ave., at various cafes, restaurants and bars in Greektown, taking the lives of two innocent young girls and injuring a dozen more.

The evident consistency in both these cases was mental health and the growing challenge in our society around depression, psychosis and those diagnosed under the DSM-5 criteria. It is essential we allocate resources to tackle this growing problem and that it’s not just swept under the rug.

In addition to mental health, there was one other stark commonality between both attacks: ISIS claimed responsibility.

At Danforth and Logan Aves. where a vigil took place, I remember holding a ‘Love for All, Hatred for None’ sign as I got the news ISIS has claimed responsibility for the shooting. I was appalled. Impossible. It reminded me about Alek Minassian and how ISIS outrageously claimed the responsibility for the van attack as well.

But, why would ISIS claim responsibility for attacks they have nothing to do with?

The Caliph of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, His Holiness Mirza Masroor Ahmad, sums it up perfectly: “Publicity is the oxygen sustaining terror groups.”

One pivotal component of the ISIS recruitment strategy is proliferation of misinformation and constant claims of attacks they have nothing to do with. This allows them to do two things.

First, it creates division and disorder among citizens, increasing hatred toward Muslims, which then leads to backlash and further propels hate.

Second, it keeps ISIS relevant and top of mind for distressed, mentally disturbed and disenfranchised youth, making it easier to influence them and get in contact as part of the terror group’s recruitment strategy.

Believe it or not, it works.

Despite 99% of people quietly thanking me for being present at the vigil, there was one individual creating a scene; causing ruckus and spurring Islamophobia. He was later escorted out by police. He thought it was an Islamic attack and that Hussain was inspired by Islamic ideologies.

In contrast, I must say the way Torontonians responded was special. The warm sentiments, tears, hugs and overwhelming amount of positivity reminded me of how lucky I am to be a resident of this accepting community.

Toronto is a beautiful city and Canada is a magnificent country. What really makes our home special is the people who live here. From the politicians who were not quick to point fingers and make this about Islam, to the media who quickly dismissed the ISIS claim of responsibility for this attack, to ultimately us. The people. Gathering together during a time of difficulty, irrespective of race, religion or background, standing together, shoulder to shoulder, mourning with our fellow Canadians.

In the powerful words of Martin Luther King Jr.: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

Qudrat is on the executive committee of Muslim Writers of Canada


GUEST COLUMN: Extremist group that cried ‘wolf’

2 replies

  1. Quote—In the powerful words of Martin Luther King Jr.: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”—

    I love this pharse or expression.
    I would like add to it

    Love is the seed of peace, happiness and prosperity
    But hatred is the seed of evil, violence and poverty
    All love ❤️

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