Good morning, Mr. Chair, and honourable members. Thank you for inviting us here today.
Just by way of introduction, let me say that in Canada there are a series of deep networks that have the ideology, infrastructure, and organized financial support to develop multiple avenues of extremism here in Canada. The intent of these networks is to create a political, social, and cultural space where issues of extremism and radicalization can be advanced, while questions about their activity are silenced through manufactured claims of Islamophobia and racism. These networks, aided by overseas propaganda efforts, will provide an increasingly large stream of young Canadians who will use their Canadian passports to continue to become suicide bombers, jihadist fighters, and propagandists.
Many believe we should simply allow such individuals to travel overseas, and there is a certain logic that support that. However, exporting murderous suicide bombers and propagandists may not be the best way Canada contributes to this trans-national, long-term series of overseas conflicts.
Islam itself is in the throes of a long-term struggle for the soul of the faith. Historical analogies to similar events in the past are tenuous, but the protestant reformation in Europe lasted from roughly 1517 to 1648, in other words, 130 years. Almost 30% of the population of what we would now call Germany was destroyed in that time period. The current upheaval in Islam has been under way for about 90 years, but it's reasonable to say this will probably last for another full generation.
Hassan al-Banna's formation of the Muslim Brotherhood in 1928 can be seen symbolically as marking the start of the modern day politicized struggle for the future of Islam, much as Martin Luther is seen symbolically as having started the reformation in 1615. While the outcome of the struggle for the soul of Islam is not clear, it's reasonable to assess at this moment Islamist voices of extremism are in the lead, and they are ascendant.
The question is, how should we view this extremism in Canada? Here it is increasingly difficult to distinguish the difference between the ISIS rhetoric, which we hear over there, and the rhetoric of local Canadian efforts, which are created and distributed over here. This is not surprising, given they are inspired by the same basic ideology.
We cannot here today examine all aspects of extremism, but I believe the most recent issue of the ISIS magazine, Dabiq, issue number 9, provides a useful example and a point of entry, which we can discuss. An article in the recent Dabiq is entitled “Slave-Girls or Prostitutes” and examines the role of women in ISIS, with a focus on justifying the roles of those girls and women who have been captured and are now held as sexual slaves.
At about the same time that report was published, Zainab Bangura, the United Nations special representative on sexual violence, reported that ISIS is institutionalizing sexual violence. The brutalization of women and girls is central to their ideology. The question arises, is it possible to tell the difference between the statements made by ISIS propagandists over there and the information and material that is being generated over here?
Let me read five short statements about the extremist views of women and try to imagine which one of these statements is from ISIS and which was created and distributed here in Canada. Statement 1, beating women in Islam is a type of education; statement 2, women may enjoy being beaten at times, as it is a sign of love and concern for them; statement 3, forced sex is not rape and they should be thankful; statement 4, the husband has many rights over his wife, and first and foremost she must obey; statement 5, the wife may not deny herself to her husband.
Of those five statements, only one of them comes from Dabiq magazine, namely, statement 3 about forced sex. The other four statements are all statements being made in Canada, distributed in books, put on videos online, etc. All of this is here in Canada, all of it in the open, and all of it available through open source. These statements are so offensive, so repugnant, and so barbaric it is difficult to catalogue the various affronts.
The same comparison can be made with other extremist issues, such as the killing of innocents and suicide bombings. These statements also do not address the degree to which female genital mutilation exists in Canada. We do not have useful statistics on this because the various legislative and medical bodies refuse to address the issue here in Canada, unlike the United Kingdom, France, and Germany.
Canada probably has the highest rate of forced suicides, meaning murder or honour killings, amongst young south Asian women. This is for a series of reasons due to extremism and culture, but again at best we have second order statistics, as feminist groups and others are either afraid to tackle the issue or they do not find the killing of brown women in Canada to be significant.
I am aware that front-line police forces are aware of the issue at hand. They're trying to deal with it. They're trying to educate themselves, but they lack official statistics. They lack community support and they lack political backing.
Much of Canadian civil society, including feminists, academics, social justice advocates and NGOs, is either frightened into submission and fears speaking out or believes that it is correct to approve of such abuse because one must be tolerant of other cultures. Silence, in my view, implies consent.
Hence, we see York University Muslim Students' Association handing out books advising that it's correct to beat your wife because she'll see it as a sign of love and concern, yet there is no overall societal reaction to this or other such statements.
The question arises, of course, who are the networks that are advancing this extremism in Canada? As noted above, the wellspring of much of this ideology comes from the Muslim Brotherhood. Dr. Lorenzo Vidino, who is perhaps the world's leading expert on the Muslim Brotherhood outside of the Middle East itself, recently testified at the Senate of Canada on May 11 of this year. His view, as he expressed it to the Senate, is that the Muslim Brotherhood has some eight to ten front groups in Canada, but the four best known ones are the Muslim Association of Canada, CAIR-CAN, otherwise known as NCCM, and Islamic Relief Canada. He identified IRFAN as the fourth, although of course they have been put out of business as of this year when they were declared a terrorist entity.
In conclusion, let me say that I believe the discussion about passport seizures and revocation is timely, appropriate, and necessary. Unfortunately, as the recent seizure of some 10 passports at the Montreal airport suggests, this is an ongoing problem. It's going to increase in magnitude as a series of overseas conflicts continue.
By way of my own background, I've been involved with and testified in an international hostage-taking criminal case. I've testified and been declared a court expert in terrorism in a criminal trial. I've testified multiple times and been declared a court expert in national security certificates. I've testified and been declared a court expert in the IRB and I testified at the Air India inquiry. I've also testified to the Senate and the House on multiple occasions in the past and I actually helped train the special advocates, lawyers, and judges who work within the national security certificate cases and others.
It should be noted as well that I've testified on both sides of the aisle, defence and prosecution, including testifying for the defence when questions of innocence and due process have arisen concerning Muslim Canadians caught up in national security issues. As such, my view based on experience in the court system is that the ultimate arbitrator of the human rights of Canadians remains the court system. While a bit slow and on occasion ponderous, innovations such as the special advocate system have worked and have ensured that the intelligence community and the judicial system have remained functional even under the most trying of circumstances over a period of years.
Based on my experience, the bill provides judges with considerable latitude to accept, deny, or discard any and all evidence put in front of them. This is made particularly clear under the “Appeals” section of the bill, subclause 4(4) and in particular paragraphs (a), (b), (c) and (e), which offer judges and by extension defence lawyers, the widest possible latitude to discredit misleading or weak evidence put before them. Thus I believe a balance can be achieved when a passport revocation occurs.
I believe that an independent judiciary, a system that we have here in Canada, remains a trustworthy and credible force. It is capable of dealing with the issue of whether or not the privilege of having a Canadian passport—and it's a privilege not a right.... If that privilege has been revoked and the passport is removed, I believe that the judges are capable of assessing the information at hand and whether that person would have used it to travel abroad to commit acts of terrorism or otherwise.
Mr. Chairman and honourable members, thank you.