The 2017 celebration of the Islamic festival of Eid Al-Adha will probably long be remembered by worshippers at the Ottawa Islamic Association. On that day none other than the Prime Minister of Canada popped in for a visit. As he basked in the warm glow of appreciation from the assembled worshippers, Justin Trudeau could not be more open and appreciative in his remarks about how much he valued the contribution of Muslims to Canadian society.
Still, it is likely that some of those worshippers remember Mr. Trudeau’s visit better than others. Some could probably not even see him properly. You see, in line with Islamic teachings this was a segregated gathering. So, the women present had to observe from a gallery, far from the action. This fact was not remarked on by Mr. Trudeau despite his comments earlier in the week that a key part of his policy agenda was to: “…speak to inclusive growth, help for the middle class. I will talk about gender equality. I will talk about the rights of the LGBT community. We will continue to promote the values which bring us together.”
Rather predictably neither ‘gender equality’ nor ‘the LGBT community’ got much of a look-in amidst the mutual backslapping of the day. There was also no mention of the fact that the Islamic community in Ottawa has been on the receiving end of millions of dollars from one of the most illiberal regimes on the planet. Perhaps it would have been bad form to ask if all that Saudi money came with any strings attached? So in the absence of awkward questions, the polite fiction that the two sides, Canada’s uber-liberal Prime Minister and the members of the mosque funded by a nation that does not allow women to leave home without a male guardian, really had deep-seated values ‘which bring us together’. We would, at the very least, be entitled to wonder what exactly those shared values might be?
In the same year, that Ottawa’s Muslims pushed some of their most cherished convictions aside to dote upon a Prime Minister whose values they probably privately despised (if they wanted to remain true to their prophet’s teachings) another group, at the other end of the spectrum, chose to do the same in reverse. The ‘Woman’s March’ in Washington DC was intended to draw attention to some of the most cherished causes of a certain segment of the radical left. It was all there, ‘smashing the patriarchy’, transgender rights, radical abortion reform and much much more. Yet, right at the heart of it, as co-chair no less, was a follower of a religion whose prophet called women ‘deficient in intelligence and religion’ (Sahih Bukhari 1:6:301) and whose holy book commands men to beat disobedient wives (Qur’an 4:34).
Linda Sarsour’s Muslim identity was not an embarrassment for the painfully woke leadership of the Woman’s March. Instead, she was celebrated precisely because of that identity. In fact, one of the most memorable images from the march was a picture, in the style of President Obama’s famous ‘Hope’ campaign poster, in which the most striking feature was a hijab. The message could not be clearer. The hijab should be celebrated as a symbol of female liberation, a strike against the patriarchy! This would surely come as news to the multitude of women in the Muslim world who served prison terms because they refused to wear one. Had they been aware of this the radical leftist organisers of the march probably still would not care. They had to show that Muslims were right at the heart of their movement, even if this came at the cost of some serious cognitive dissonance.
What on earth is going on? Why do people who, on the basis of their ideology, should despise the other side appear so ready to ‘kiss and make up’. I call this phenomenon the Red-Green (or Leftist-Islamist) Alliance and coming to grips with how it came to be, and how it can be challenged for the sake of freedom, are the major themes of the book I am currently working on. I’ll be blogging some of the chapters as I go along, so watch this space!
PS. My Red-Green Alliance book is still a few months away from publication. In the meantime I’m sure you will enjoy my first novel, ‘The House Built on Sand’ with its penetrating look at the earliest years of Islam.