by Hayy Yaqzan (Special Reports, Crescent International Vol. 48, No. 2, Rajab, 1440)
In the days following the March 15 shooting at two masjids in New Zealand, people of all walks of life from across the world expressed their sympathies and support with the Muslim community, particularly with the victims and their loved ones. Many Muslims were understandably upset by the tragedy that occurred — but not all were upset due to their endemic Islamophobia.
Tarek Fatah, who was previously introduced in a recent article in Crescent International, seemed more upset than anyone else, but only at the fact that the world was showing solidarity with Muslims. In the early hours after news of the shooting began to emerge, he shared multiple tweets describing the event as an act of terrorism and racism, and offering his condolences to those affected.
However, he was soon lamenting that “ultra-right-wing White Nationalists” provide “ammunition & sustenance to the worldwide jihadi movement by massacring Muslims in prayer.” He also shared a post emphasizing that it may be worthwhile to check whether the primary shooter was radicalized during his supposed trip to Pakistan in 2018 and “used [by Pakistan] to divert attention.”
And Fatah was soon doing a video interview in Urdu with his friend Tahir Gora, a Canadian pseudo-journalist, in which he said (translated), “In my understanding, if anyone has lost a lot because of this event, it is those forces, those Muslims who have been fighting against Islamism for the past 20, 25 years.” The loss and grief of the immediate victims and the Muslim community were smaller in magnitude than the fact that this event took away the spotlight from Fatah and like-minded “reformists.” And he could do little to hide his frustration about it.
Within hours, Fatah was sharing posts according to which the renowned Muslim intellectual Abul Ala Maududi was ultimately responsible for the deaths in New Zealand. He was also sharing the idea that the attack was an inevitable reaction to liberals’ “inertia” against “jihad” over the past 20 years. And, of course, he was making comparisons, sharing an article from late-January about church bombings in the Philippines.
By March 16, he could no longer contain his frustration. Commenting on the potential return of ISIS fighters to Canada, he said, “And now that the world is in total solidarity with Muslims #NewZealandMosqueAttacks, who will dare to object to their return with their burka-brides.” His “research” became even sloppier than usual; in one instance, he shared a tweet from August 2018 showing the National Council of Canadian Muslims meeting a Conservative MP, commenting that, “This is how Islamists are milking the “NewZealandTerroristAttack to their own advantage.”
His tantrum continued on March 19, when he retweeted a message saying that Islamophobia kills, but it specifically kills those who are accused of it. He also published his regular column in the Toronto Sun that day, comparing himself to Christian reformer Martin Luther. By March 21, he was asking whether New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern was going to “convert to Islam and impose ‘Iranian-style hijab.’” Over the next few days he accused Ardern of having “worn the Jihadi hijab and submitted to the Islamist agenda,” calling her supporters “dhimmis” and mocking her by saying that New Zealanders will accompany her later in the year to perform the Hajj. Graceful as always, he also added, “If the New Zealand PM was a man, he would have ordered all males to get circumcised, leading by example. The land of sheep turned goats.”
In all these days, a miserable Fatah rarely mentioned the victims of the tragedy or the stated motives of the primary attacker. He only helplessly tried to raise as many false alarms as he could while watching the world come together to comfort the Muslim community, from which he has alienated himself due to his opportunistic antics. For a few days, it almost seemed as if Fatah had become totally irrelevant, a frightening thought for a narcissist and self-promoter like him.
But of course, he was not. Even if he did not directly inspire the perpetrators of the attack, for years he has faithfully played the role of the prominent “Muslim validator” of anti-Muslim bigotry and rhetoric that ultimately lead to such crimes. Many examples were shared in my previous article, and his record in the aftermath of the jarring tragedy in New Zealand speaks for itself. But if these are not enough, here are some more examples that clearly tell us why Fatah should not be given a shred of credibility by any intelligent person.
Take, for example, Fatah’s own duplicity when it comes to supporting so-called “Islamist” groups. This is a charge he regularly levels against just any committed Muslim (and their non-Muslim supporters). However, in a letter published in the Toronto Star in 2002, Fatah openly declared his support for a government-designated terrorist organization. It is important to note that whether that designation was fair or not is besides the point here; the point is that if anyone else were to say exactly what he himself wrote in that letter, he would have a field day of calling them out.
Fatah said in his letter that he had the “deepest respect and admiration” for organizations like Lebanon’s Hizbullah, and that the Canadian government’s decision to designate the group as a terrorist organization was “an act of cowardice.” To end off his letter, he said, “I will be donating a dollar to Hezbollah today. If that makes me a terrorist, so be it. Come get me, CSIS.”
Another example of Fatah’s shallowness is his record of anti-Jewish comments. He masquerades as a friend of the Jewish community and as someone who calls out supposed anti-Semitic sentiment among Muslims. In 2003, Fatah appeared in a TV program to discuss The Trouble with Islam, a recently-published book by his friend and fellow “reformist Muslim” Irshad Manji. Manji was also on the program, and she described the topic of the book, which was “Muslim complicity” in the Holocaust. Fatah appeared civil during the program, but once the cameras stopped rolling, he exclaimed in front of the host and the crew, “This book was written by the Jews for the Jews!”