The Globe & Mail continues its in-depth look into Canada’s home-grown terrorists and how they became radicalized while living in a tolerant, multicultural Western society. Yesterday the G&M reviewed the case of Nada Farooq, the wife of Zakaria Amara, one of the cell’s ringleaders. Today they focus on Amara himself:
More than anything, Zakaria Amara wanted to serve God. But it was never easy, especially not while living in Canada.
During the summer of 2004, the then-18-year-old felt disgusted by women who were immodestly dressed. For the same reason, he couldn’t watch television. He and his wife Nada Farooq stopped going to movies. One of his devout friends in England sent him a desperate e-mail asking for help in beating an addiction to pornography.
But the forces tugging at Mr. Amara — who now stands accused of being one of two leaders in a terrorist plot — in the years leading up to his arrest this month extended well beyond those annoyances.
In 2004, he had just married a woman whose own take on Islam was often far more extreme than his own. His wife would soon become pregnant with their first child and, on little income, he struggled to balance the needs of his family and his dreams for the future. Some of his closest friends, and later fellow suspects, were also becoming more extreme. The preachers he admired — both on-line and in Mississauga’s mosques — expressed often anti-Canadian sentiments.
Again, it seems that Canada never felt like home to these Muslims, prodded into separatism by radical imams and inspired by their Internet communications. He sees temptation everywhere, from television and films to daily interaction with secular Canadians. And while he grows more insistent on rejecting Western mores, he also becomes somewhat addicted to video games and surfing the Internet.
The Amara postings that G&M finds show someone with more than a little paranoia, feeding his identity as an outsider. Even his parents come under fire for taking a mortgage on their house, and later for demanding that he cut his hair after a hajj to Saudi Arabia. He also gets his share of disappointment for his commitment to Islam; a university in Medina rejected his application, forcing him to study at Ryerson Univeristy in Toronto instead of an Islamic college as he wanted.
Ultimately, Amara falls into relationships where his radical Islamic impulses find expression. He married his wife at 18, and as yesterday’s installment shows, her radical religious philosophy far outstripped Amara’s extremism, at least at first. He sought and found radical places of worship, eventually hooking up with the middle-aged Qayyum Abdul Jamal in an odd mentoring relationship. The pair wound up plotting together, and now will stand trial together.
Will this give Canadians any clue to solving the mystery of how Canadian citizens can grow up to be terrorists? Perhaps not explicitly. However, one point should be clear from the two articles: multiculturalism cannot replace assimilation. Canadian efforts to give Muslims the ability to conduct their own social interactions, including mediation of civil disputes in the mosques instead of the Canadian justice system, only increases the isolation and apartness of Muslims in their society. This should prompt Canadians — and Americans as well — to question previous assumptions of multiculturalism and its role in creating a tolerant and stable society.