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DEFEND THE TORONTO 17!
Victims of the Anti-Muslim Witch Hunt at Home
Mobilization Against War and Occupation-MAWO Statement on the June 2nd 2006 arrests in the Toronto area
June 9/ 2006
On Friday June 2nd seventeen mostly young, all Muslim men were arrested in South-Western Ontario under unspecified allegations of being involved in a “terrorist plot.” Alongside the Canadian military’s spring transition from a housekeeping occupation presence in Kabul to a savage combat mission in Southern Afghanistan, the arrest of the Toronto 17 has signaled that the war at home – a couple steps behind the war abroad – has entered its own “combat mission” against the democratic and human rights of oppressed people in Canada.
The Toronto 17, already found guilty of “terrorism” by the anti-Muslim smokescreen of the government of Canada and the mainstream media, represent something important for working, poor and oppressed people in Canada. The storm troopers of the right wing of Canadian politics are entering through the window of the arrest of the Toronto 17 into the homes of all Muslims in Canada.
TERRORISM OR STATE TERRORIST FRAME-UP?
One week into the saga of the arrest of the Toronto 17 still no charges have been released. The “allegations” that the Toronto 17 were involved in a “terrorist plot” have not been elaborated beyond allegation. The synopsis of the prosecution’s case that was presented at the June 6th court appearance was still nothing but a collection of imaginary police allegations.
The arrests come as result of a two-year investigation group of 17. If there was evidence of a “terrorist plot” the crown prosecution would have been certain to include some of this evidence in the synopsis documents presented at the first appearance of the Toronto 17 in court on June 6th. But no facts were presented. Instead, a mere 8 page summary of the case was presented to the defense lawyers. The desperation of the prosecution team in trying to dig up “evidence” was evident in the ludicrous allegations that were found in these 8 pages. These allegations have been broadcasted through international media as fact. They include a “plot” to bomb parliament buildings, and the “plot” to kidnap parliamentarians and to “behead” Prime Minister Stephen Harper. In fact, none of these “plots” were elaborated or developed into actual “plots” but have been presented as court evidence as loose talk, personal desires, and thoughts. In place of evidence of intent to carry out these “plots” the government has substituted further allegation of “terrorist camps” and circumstantial evidence of the “3 tons of ammonium nitrate,” allegedly sold and delivered to the 17 by a sting operation of the police and government themselves.
But the lack of evidence presented against the Toronto 17 has not stopped the government or media from convicting the 17 in the court of public opinion of “terrorist plotting” and launching an unprecedented fear mongering campaign. The lack of evidence has not stopped the courts and prisons from violating every civil, democratic, human, and legal right of the Toronto 17 – keeping them in solitary confinement, denying them all (including the 5 minors arrested) access to their lawyers, families, and eachother. “Rule of Law” indeed. And the lack of evidence against the Toronto 17 has certainly not stopped the government and racist war mongering ruling class from taking the opportunity to ratchet up anti-Muslim hysteria, hostility, and paranoia in the media and amongst “average Canadians.”
Here we find the truth. The guilt or innocence of the Toronto 17 is not important as far as the Canadian war drive is concerned. The motivation for these arrests at this particular time has nothing to do with the alleged actions or “plots” of the Toronto 17. The arrests have everything to do with covering up the government’s war drive in Afghanistan, dividing Muslim and non-Muslim oppressed and working people in Canada, and pouring the foundation for a new round of attacks on the rights of immigrants, refugees, and all working and poor people in Canada.
FEAR OF TERRORISTS = SUPPORT FOR WAR
Since the May 17th vote in parliament to extend Canada’s combat mission in Southern Afghanistan until 2009 opinion polls have found a steady climb in public opposition to Canada’s occupation of Afghanistan. And just two days after the arrests, and buried beneath the Islamophobic media storm, was the news that the occupation forces in Southern Afghanistan – forces under Canada’s control – will be doubled so “[w]hat you're going to see is a massive influx of new troops, more troops than the Afghans have seen in a long time.'' (Canadian Lt.-Col. Ian Hope, June 4th 2006)
In answer to the growing anti-war sentiment amongst people in Canada, the government of Canada borrowed a trick from the masters of fear mongering in the US government. Immediately after the arrest of the 17, Liberal MP Wajjid Khan quoted the “hateful comments” of Qayyum Abdul Jamal, the so-called “ringleader” of the Toronto 17 when the MP visited a Jamal’s mosque last summer. MP Khan recalled, "[Jamal] went on saying that we don’t need him [MP Khan] here, that our government is telling us what to do and that the Canadian troops in Afghanistan have gone there to rape Muslim women."
In the halls of “justice”, parliament, and the newspapers rang a new truth… that opposing Canada’s occupation of Afghanistan is equal to terrorism, or at least supporting terrorism.
The proven success of this racist and Islamophobic campaign shows in the voices of people across Canada on AM talk-radio call-in shows. Many of us have been fooled. Many do not see the refusal of democratic, civil, and legal rights to the Toronto 17 as an attack on “our” rights – because we have been fooled. We do not see the attack on the democratic rights of all Muslims to express their opposition to the government’s war drive as an attack on “our” rights – because we have been fooled. This is the poison of the racist and Islamophobic campaign of the government and war mongers; they are dividing working and oppressed people in Canada along the lines of race and religion so that we cannot defend our collectively held rights. This divisive campaign pops and explodes in attacks of race hatred and Islamophobia like the June 4th vandalism of a Toronto mosque.
In the very moment of the racist and Islamophobic heat wave, the deputy director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS)’s pronouncement was released that about 90 percent of immigration applicants from Pakistan and Afghanistan in the past five years have not been sufficiently screened for “security concerns.” The lesson is, of course, that more restrictions are necessary to curb the threat of “terrorism” that comes to Canada with Muslim immigrants. Restrictions like Security Certificates – a Canadian legal clause that allows the arrest and indefinite detention of non-citizens of Canada for suspicion of involvement in “terrorism” without evidence or charges. Coincidentally, the constitutionality of Security Certificates are set to go before Supreme Court on Monday June 12th – just over one week after the arrest of the 17.
NO TO ANTI-MUSLIM FEAR MONGERING! DEFEND THE TORONTO 17!
Under government driven racist and Islamophobic hysteria, the Toronto 17 do not stand a chance of a fair trial anywhere in Canada. For working, poor and oppressed people in Canada, the real threat to our “security” does not come from oppressed people – Muslim or otherwise. The clear and present danger to our security, our civil liberties and democratic and human rights comes from a government that is using the frame-up case of the Toronto 17 as a cover-up for their war drive in Afghanistan, and their assaults on the rights of working and oppressed people in Canada.
Mobilization Against War and Occupation (MAWO) calls on all organizations and people committed to the cause of peace and social justice to take a stand against the government of Canada’s war drive, and against this racist, anti-Muslim arrest of the Toronto 17. We must stand in defense of the democratic, human, and civil rights of Muslims and all oppressed people in Canada. In the case of the Toronto 17, these rights are what really stand trial.
End Attacks on Muslims!
Defend the Toronto 17!
Stop the Canadian War Drive!
Stop all attacks on the rights of immigrants and refugees!
June 13 2006