Thursday, November 30, 2006

Ted Morton's Big Tent

Ted Morton is all of a sudden a big tent, inclusive kind of guy with a passion for diversity. He has lots of room for lots of different people in his Conservative party even though he is running for the leadership of the Progressive Conservative Party…a real difference and not just semantics I might add.

He even pointed out his “endorsement from the Muslim community” on the Global TV debate tonight as his proof of this claim. Specific reference in the newspapers in Edmonton and Calgary today was to Syed Soharwardy, president of the Islamic Supreme Council of Canada as the supporter of Dr. Morton.

Here is a Calgary Herald story from this past August on his Muslim supporter and the group he represents. His supporter sounds a bit harsh to me and apparently not representative of the majority of the Muslim community as Dr. Morton suggests. I’ll leave the final judgment of readers as to if this helps make Dr. Morton’s image as a more accommodating, moderate and tolerant guy and someone who you would grant your consent to govern your life as Premier of Alberta.

Muslim leader lashes out at U.S. 'fascists': Calgarian prompts outcry by blaming Bush for terrorism
Calgary Herald
Saturday, August 12, 2006
Page: A7
Section: News
Byline: Jason Fekete
Source: Calgary Herald
A national Islamic organization headed by a Calgarian says George W. Bush is a root cause of terrorism, calling the U.S. president and some neo-conservatives "the biggest fascists, terrorists and extremists."
Syed Soharwardy, president of the Islamic Supreme Council of Canada and founder of Muslims Against
Terrorism, also suggested this week's United Kingdom terrorism plot was an effort to shift the world's attention from "the genocide in Lebanon."
The comments sparked criticism from other religious leaders, including Hatim Zaghloul, chairman of the Muslim Council of Calgary, who said Soharwardy's remarks don't represent the views of the larger portion of the community.
Soharwardy condemned Friday the alleged terrorism plot discovered by British authorities to blow up at least 10 transatlantic flights -- a plan the U.S. president linked to "Islamic fascists."
Soharwardy insisted Bush and the terrorists have a "common agenda," which is to kill civilians and destroy infrastructure in an effort to gain control over people and the world's resources.
"The reality is that the overwhelming majority of peaceful people see Mr. Bush and his neo-cons as the biggest fascists, terrorists and extremists," Soharwardy said in a statement that was further backed up in an interview.
The terrorists, along with Bush and his "neo-cons" -- including British Prime Minister Tony Blair -- are the root cause of terrorism, he said, adding that both of these "mafia-like organizations" should be condemned and brought to justice.
"It has been proven Mr. Bush and his neo-con mafia are responsible for producing more terrorists and more destruction," said Soharwardy, speaking on behalf of the Islamic council, which has 13 chapters across the country and says it represents 50,000 Muslims.
"The war against terrorism is a factory that is producing terrorists on a very large scale. Mr. Bush and the neo-cons are managing this factory," he added. "Mr. Bush and Mr. Blair are as much responsible as the terrorists for killing innocent civilians."
Soharwardy said his argument that the British terror plot is an effort to deviate the world's attention from "the genocide in Lebanon" isn't necessarily laying blame for who's behind the plan.
"Regardless of who's responsible . . . this plot has diverted attention from Lebanon," he said, adding that it's damaged the Muslim cause.
His statements were quickly censured by Calgary's largest Muslim group and by the B'nai Brith Canada.
"It's inflammatory language, there's no doubt," said Zaghloul, whose group represents about 80 per cent of all Muslims in Calgary, or between 50,000 to 65,000 people.
"We need to bring people closer, not further apart," Zaghloul said.
Calgary Imam Alaa Elsayed agreed that Soharwardy represents a small percentage of Muslims, but conceded Bush's comments have sparked a backlash that may be partially to blame for mounting terrorism in the world.
"I don't disagree totally. I disagree in the wording," he said, specifically criticizing suggestions Bush is a terrorist.
Frank Dimant, executive vice-president of B'nai Brith Canada, assailed Soharwardy's statements as absurdities that "have no foundation in reality," particularly the notion of a genocide in Lebanon.
The comments reflect a pattern, Dimant said, of elements within Canadian society that are becoming much more aggressive.
"It's horrible. It's outlandish. It's on the verge of insanity to speak in the terms being spoken by these people," Dimant said. "It's preposterous that people in the safety of Canada can possibly pronounce the kind of statements done (Friday)."
In an interview with the Herald, Soharwardy conceded he used "strong language." However, he said it was needed so Canadians can see a more complete story regarding the terror plot, and that terrorism isn't automatically tied to Muslims or Islam.
Bush's comments and the military actions of the western world isolate the general Muslim population, he said, which leads some Muslims to extremist groups.
"The war against terrorism hasn't reduced terrorism. It's increased terrorism," Soharwardy said.

This Saturday – be careful who you elect.