Four weeks ago, when Toronto City Councillor Paula Fletcher facilitated the Islamic call to prayer at a Toronto mosque, she described it as "beautiful" and "East End Love."
As the former leader of the Communist Party of Manitoba, she must have known of Mao Zedong's most well-known quote, "A single spark can start a prairie fire."
The fear of many Muslims that the mixing of state and religion would cause irreparable damage to our society, and that the loudspeaker had absolutely nothing to do with Islam, fell on deaf ears. We Muslims who stood up to some of the medievalists within our ranks found ourselves being labelled as 'Islamophobes' by the country's left-liberal and even conservative political establishments.
We didn't have to wait too long for our worst fears to be realized.
Secular Canadian Muslims who object to mixing state and religion have been labelled "Islamophobes."
On May 16, one Firas Al Najim gave his own call to prayer using a loudspeaker in the parking lot of the Jaffari Islamic Centre in the City of Vaughan, where he promoted the views of the Iraqi cleric Ayatollah al-Sistani and then launched into tirade against "Zionists."
Al Najim claimed that at the Jaffari Islamic Centre, "the majority of the followers, they follow (Ayatollah) Ali al-Husayni al-Sistani." Quoting the Ayatollah, Al Najim proclaimed: "It is illegal, it is forbidden for any Muslim ... to do any business transaction with any Zionist business."
Firas Al Najim didn't stop there. He basically asked for the end of the State of Israel, claiming: "The holy land of Muslims, Christians and Jews has been occupied for over 72 years ... We need to stand with the Palestinian people. We need to be firm and we need to talk to our MPs, talk to the government officials, the prime minister over and over again."
And then came the reference to the "lobbies" that supposedly frame Canada's policies. Without using the word "Jewish" or "Zionist," he hinted at the same: "It should be justice over financial gains and lobbies that bully and so on, you know, whatever kind of evil things that they (lobbies) do..."
This is what Muslims who have fled the tyranny of Islamic regimes such as Iran and Pakistan had feared. And it happened sooner than anyone expected: the use of megaphones around mosques to spread hatred and to do so under the protection of city by-laws rushed through by a scared bunch of politicians worried that they might be slurred by the obnoxious word Islamophobia that is simply a sword of Damocles hanging over the head of anyone who dare critique the actions of certain Muslims or their clergy.
The Jaffari Centre reacted through its Vice President Shafiq Ebrahim, who instead of denouncing the message of hate mixed with the call to prayer, stated: "We do not know the individual who recorded himself on our premises."
That claim, however, does not appear to be true.
On March 31, 2019, Firas Al Najim published a letter he sent to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that was endorsed by the same Shafiq Ebrahim of the mosque, who claimed he did not know Al Najim.
There was more to come.
Reacting to the mosque claim that they did not know him, Firas Al Najim reacted quickly and tweeted Wednesday morning through his organization, the Canadian Defenders For Human Rights, that the mosque officials "have lied." Al Najim produced four pictures of himself with officials of the Jaffari Centre.
What was fascinating about this sad display of hate is the fact that Islamic groups, instead of denouncing Firas Al Najim, chose to attack local PC MPP Gila Martow, who had slammed the hatred disguised as a call to prayer.
And in a demonstration of vote bank bullying and political cowardice, it was Gila Martow who had to apologize to the mosque, not Faris Al Najim.
Tarek Fatah, a founder of the Muslim Canadian Congress and columnist at the Toronto Sun, is a Robert J. and Abby B. Levine Fellow at the Middle East Forum.