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Canada's parliament: Justin Trudeau initially refused to call the attack terrorism (photo: W. Lloyd Mackenzie, via Flickr)

On Monday, October 20 two Canadian soldiers walking along the streets of St-Jean-sur-Richelieu in Quebec were deliberately run down by a car driven by Muslim convert Martin Couture-Rouleau: 53-year-old Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent was killed. His murderer was chased by the police and the car he was driving overturned in the chase; he managed to climb out, attacked his pursuers and was shot dead. He was carrying a large knife at the time and the assumption is that he was planning to behead the two soldiers, echoing the murder of Lee Rigby in London last year.

Two days later, on October 22, 24-year-old army reservist Corporal Nathan Cirillo was standing as a ceremonial guard in Ottawa at the nation's war memorial, just a few yards in front of the mock-gothic and British-influenced parliament building. Another Muslim convert, Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, drove close to the monument, shot Cirillo in the back, killed him and then ran inside the House of Commons. He was seconds away from rooms containing dozens of MPs and even the Prime Minister and was only stopped when the Sergeant-at-Arms, Kevin Vickers, a retired police officer in his late fifties whose position was until then considered largely ceremonial, produced a small sidearm and shot Zehaf-Bibeau dead.

It would be reassuring to explain that Canada lost its innocence that week and that, while never abandoning its moderation and civility, suddenly took the threat of Islamist terrorism seriously. Not so. Not so at all. The leader of the Liberal Party, Justin Trudeau, initially refused to describe the attacks as terrorism and the leader of the New Democratic Party, Canada's Labour Party, still will not do so. Those politicians who did admit that the organised murder of two Canadian soldiers and an attempt to slaughter MPs was perhaps terroristic, then exhibited what has become a notorious adjectival complaint. It wasn't "Islamic" or "Muslim" terrorism, it was just terrorism. Terror for terror's sake perhaps, or as part of an obscure hobby, or merely a result of childhood trauma. Both killers were described as being mentally ill, which now seems to be the verdict reserved almost exclusively for Islamist murderers. I don't recall IRA, UVF or in Canada French separatist terrorists ever being considered mentally ill. Perhaps it's just that mental illness is on the rise these days. Both killers, by the way, had been under police supervision, had had their passports confiscated and were openly supportive of jihadism and Islamic State.

The attacks came only a few weeks after an anti-terrorism pamphlet was issued in Winnipeg by a Muslim organisation working with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), who along with Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) form the core of the nation's anti-terrorism forces. The pamphlet drew qualitative parallels between terrorism and Islamophobia, argued that there was no connection whatsoever between terror and Islam, that the phrase "moderate Muslim" should never be used because all Muslims were moderate, and generally painted a blurred picture of a country where Muslims were treated very poorly but never harmed a halal fly. At first the pamphlet was lauded but then — probably after a phone call from the Conservative government — the RCMP partially withdrew their support. But the damage was already largely done, and two weeks later the State Department in Washington tweeted their support for the clumsy propaganda.

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November 23rd, 2015
3:11 PM
Interesting to see that you and Sam Harris agree on this topic. Strange bedfellows indeed. The difference being that Sam Harris views your religion as equally ridiculous, though decidedly less dangerous ... in this particular epoch anyway.

Charles Martel
January 23rd, 2015
4:01 PM
Bravo Mr Coren, one of the few who speak clearly and plainly regarding the war that has been declared by Islam on the West. For those who scurry behind the phrase 'Moderate Muslim' I would ask them to consider who were the 'Moderate Nazis' and if they bore any blame for the rise and sustaining of National Socialism.

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