By Adil James, TMO
One of the most prominent journalists in Canada spoke at the Tawheed Center Saturday evening. Haroon Siddiqui, originally from Hyderabad, India, started working as a reporter before leaving India, then came to Canada and progressed through a meteoric rise at the Toronto Star, Canadaâ€™s best newspaper. He progressed from reporter to national editor in only twelve years (1978 – 1990). Finally he served for eight years as â€œEditor Emeritus,â€ the editorial page editor of the Star.
Siddiqui is the recipient of numerous awards from organizations and from national and provincial bodies. For example, in 2000 and 2001 he became a member of the Order of Ontario, for crafting â€œa broader definition of the Canadian identity,â€ inclusive of our First Nations, French Canadians and newer Canadians he is active in several organizations, including service as a professor at the Ryerson School of Journalism. He is also the author of Being Muslim, a book which he signed for visitors on Saturday evening at the Tawheed Center.
Saturday, Asim Khan of the Tawheed Center explained in detail the recent achievements of the Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC) which sponsored the evening with Haroon Siddiqui. the IAMC is an Indian advocacy and service organization based in Washington DC. Recent changes included changing the name to reflect the IAMCâ€™s center of gravity in the USA. Achievements include serious work to counter discrimination in India (and to some extent in America) against Muslims. Mr. Khan explained the most important achievement was the work of the Human Rights Law Network, an association of 300 lawyers in India who work to protect Muslims from abuses and injustices by authorities in India. The lawyers handled 50 cases this year.
The keynote speaker, Mr. Siddiqui, spoke on wide ranging issues concerning the philosophical foundation for Muslims to live in the United States and Canada. He spoke about the three levels of conflict that arose out of the 9/11 attacks (a generalized war on terror, actual war in Iraq and Afghanistan, and by a few, a cultural warfare aimed against Islam and Muslims–blaming every Muslim for every evil done by any Muslim). He quoted Anne Frank, who in her diary explained that when a Jew does something wrong, every Jew is blamed, but when a Christian does something wrong then only that Christian is blamed–Siddiqui showed the parallel current situation for Muslims. Siddiqui emphasized that â€œthere is no dichotomy between being Muslim and being American, no clash, no law contrary to Islamic principles, except one–four wives.â€ He emphasized that in the West there is in fact sometimes more freedom to practice Islam than in supposedly Muslim countries.
He also advised against pitfalls that he said confronted Muslim immigrants to the West, including individual success built at the cost of community success.