This is a blog dedicated to a personal interpretation of political news of the day. I attempt to be as knowledgeable as possible before commenting and committing my thoughts to a day's communication.

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Fundamentalist Islam -- At Home and Abroad

"They just say that she is very knowledgeable and she is actually teaching the pure Islam. What they understand as the pure Islam is something very, very conservative and fundamentalist."
"When you have that kind of Islam, it's a package deal. It's not just the wearing of the burka and the stoning to death for adultery ... it's also jihad."
Farzana Hassan, co-director, Muslim Canadian Congress

"We cannot be held responsible for personal acts of any of our students. The organization stands to promote the peaceful message of Islam and denounce extremism, violence and acts of terrorism."
"I have talked to her [Tashfeen Malik] teachers, her classmates and everybody says she was a hard-working, friendly, helpful and obedient student. No one ever noticed any signs of radicalization."
Farrukh Chaudhry, spokeswoman, Al Huda International Welfare Foundation, Multan, Pakistan

"We don't have a very strong formal link with Al Huda Pakistan. We are a religious operation within Canada and we are very much a part of that fabric and we feel like that, except that when you see stuff like this, in light of recent events, we start to get a little worried [about anti-Muslim backlash]."
"These are teachings [by the school's founder, Farhat Hashmi] that are very relevant to Muslims all around the world. I think it's up to every individual and their level of faith to kind of evaluate what she teaches and where on the spectrum it lies, but whether it's conservcative or not, it definitely doesn't condone or promote the kinds of things we're seeing around the world."
"Extremism is something completely separate and there is absolutely no strain of that here."
Imran Haq, operations manager, Al Huda Institute Canada, Mississauga, Ontario

A woman leaves the Al-Huda madrassa, or Islamic religious school, in Mississauga, Ont., on Monday, Dec. 7, 2015. The Canadian branch of an Islamic foundation distanced itself Monday from the woman who carried out last week's mass shooting in California following reports she had attended one of the group's schools in Pakistan. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
The Canadian Press - A woman leaves the Al-Huda madrassa, or Islamic religious school, in Mississauga, Ont., on Monday, Dec. 7, 2015

Founded in 2005 as a women-only academy of higher learning by Farhat Hashmi who lived in Canada for several years before returning to Pakistan, the Institute now has branches across Pakistan, the United States and the United Kingdom, teaching the Islamic ideology and principles that its founder promotes dating to her own instruction at the University of Glasgow in Scotland where she earned a doctorate in Islamic studies. She described her academy as "a kind of women's empowerment program."

Farzana Hassan, a liberal Muslim living in Toronto attended one of Ms. Hasmi's lectures and there, she said, she was exposed to a "very fundamentalist brand of Islam", one which condones polygamy, the segregation of women, and other social and cultural practices at odds with a democratic society. Hardly an atmosphere which empowers women, but rather one that cleaves to orthodox Islamic Sharia law, which dominates and oppresses women.

And it was in that atmosphere that the wife of Syed Farook of San Bernardino, Tashfeen Malik, received her immersion in conservative-style Islam, while obtaining her degree in pharmacology at Bahauddin Zakariya University, Multan. The region of Multan in Pakistan where the school is situated is only one among thousands of extremist seminaries, hundreds of which have links to al-Qaeda and the Pakistani Taliban. No known links have been identified with the school and Islamist extremists, however; they simply share some values.

While authorities at the Multan Institute claim never to have detected any traces of radicalization in Malik as a student, her close relatives with whom she lived while attending school in the city have stated that they were concerned with the young woman's growing conservatism, seeing in it a clear signal of radicalization, and puzzled by the contacts they witnessed her making through the Internet, communicating in Arabic, a language unknown to them.

All that represents an attempt to come to terms with the fact that a seemingly ordinary young woman aspiring to educate herself, marrying a young man with a similar cultural background somehow found Islamist jihad with its hateful emphasis on violent clashes with Islam's 'enemies' so alluring that she and he devoted themselves to acquiring an arsenal of deadly weapons, practising their accuracy in their use, and plotting to disguise themselves to mount a lethal attack on his co-workers.

'When', 'how' and 'why' tantalize U.S. investigators who prefer to linger on answers to those timeless questions, while bypassing the question as to why their intelligence which had flagged the interests and contacts of Syed Farook, failed to follow up on his consuming fascination with Islamist terrorism, before he was able to demonstrate just how ably he had taken to the ideology promoting Islamic world conquest, one atrocity at a time.

As for the Al-Huda madrassa in Mississauga, it appears that some of its alumni have been known to support Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, since four young women who had attended the academy left to travel to Syria in their support. Three other young woman who had attended the school were stopped by Turkish authorities and returned to Canada.

The school, however, has denied any knowledge of the four women, though admitted that the RCMP had made enquiries about two others who had 'briefly' attended the school, and who joined ISIL. Perhaps, then, this is the kind of empowerment that the school guarantees for its female students?

"The allegations that anyone associated with Al Huda may later have gone on to support violent extremism are deeply concerning."
"We will do everything we can to work with authorities to get to the bottom of these allegations. This is the first that we are learning of such allegations and are as deeply disturbed as anyone," said Imran Haq, operations manager for the Mississauga madrassa.

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