Mighty but small, it was not quite the turnout the newly formed Progressive Muslims Institute Canada had in mind for their first rally, held last week. As one of the organizers mused with a chuckle, there were more white faces than brown in the crowd of roughly two dozen.
But when the goal is as big as reclaiming a faith many Muslims feel has been hijacked by terrorism, you’ve got to start somewhere.
“We thought, enough is enough,” said Gora, the institute’s director and a Pakistani writer and social activist.
The quick succession of Islam-linked terrorism — the Boston Marathon bombing, the alleged plot to derail a Toronto-bound train, the killing of a British soldier in London, among others — was the final push for Gora and a handful of other activists to officially band together, Gora said. Part of umbrella think tank Canadian Thinkers’ Forum, the institute is the latest Canadian Muslim group promoting progressive ideas, including gender equality, separation of church and state, and condemnation of terrorism.
But while many Muslims have long been denouncing the actions of fundamental Islamist extremists, there remains a reticence among some to speak out.
“It’s 25 years that I’ve been in Canada, but I haven’t seen the Muslim community come out to protest,” said rally attendee Rasheed Nadeem. “There are progressive people, but they are silent. They do talk, but in their dining rooms.”
Too bad the Khomeinists who come out in force on Trash Israel Day feel no such reticence or fear.Fear plays a role, said Arshad Mahmood, honorary director of the new progressive Muslims group — “fear of being an outcast, fear of social boycott, fear of being trashed by certain extremist priests,” he said...