by Tarek Fatah
I had just woken from surgery when the first death threat arrived.
“This is an open threat to Xaar Boy @Tarek Fatah,” read the first Twitter posting, with its vulgar Somali adjective. “I know where you live & and where your office is.”
The sender signed herself as Mariama AnnaLitical and pictured herself wearing a purple hijab in the style of Toronto’s radical young Islamists. Other Twitter followers denounced the threat and urged that AnnaLitical be reported, even arrested. At one point she withdrew the warning, then repeated it later the same morning:
“He was also the 1 to propose banning the Niqab in Quebec… (and he) supports homosexuality,” she wrote, reiterating again: “This is an open threat. I know where you live/work @TarekFatah.”
Her fellow Islamists joined in, calling me a bad Muslim for opposing the hijab and supporting equality for gays. Other posters said I had brought the threats down onto myself.
I contacted Toronto police. Within hours, two uniformed policemen from 51 Division came to interview me in hospital. However, barely one minute later, we were interrupted. Two men entered the room and told everybody else to leave. They did not identify themselves, but five minutes into what amounted to a two-hour interrogation, I realized they were police intelligence officers. One of them, I recognized by reputation – a Muslim officer who had shut down a previous investigation into a death threat against me in 2008, and another one against a partner in liberal Islam, Tahir Gora.
The latter incident took place in the winter of 2007. Gora, at that time, a columnist for the Hamilton Spectator, had spotted a Facebook page titled “The Enemies of Islam.” The page masthead featured the names and pictures of Gora, Bangladesh author Taslima Nasreen, Sir Salman Rushdie, Irshad Manji and yours truly. Next to Gora’s name was written, “Pseudo Muslims like you should be put to death.” Similar threats were made against the other secular or liberal Muslims on the list.
Gora alerted Toronto police and within days he was visited by two plainclothes officers. Both were Muslim. Gora showed the lead officer all the posts, but despite the mountain of evidence, the officer showed little interest.
“He told me they [the police] felt the website creator was not in a position to harm me,” Gora says. When Gora suggested charges should be laid to serve as a deterrent, the officer refused. “From the officer’s tone and body language,” Gora says, “it was obvious he was upset that I was filing a complaint against a fellow Muslim.”
Meanwhile, after the intelligence officers left, the original officers confided to me that it was unusual for “intel” to act before a report had even been filed. I realized this was now about politics, and nothing would be done to help me.
Later that night, the same Muslim officer called me to say AnnaLitical posed no danger. “She didn’t mean to say it,” the officer said. I asked if any charges were laid. “No,” he said. “I didn’t think it was necessary.”
I have since informed Toronto Police Services chair Alok Mukherjee and Police Chief Bill Blair. Mukerjee assured me he will look into the matter. Chief Blair has not replied.
The Toronto police, in their wish to promote an image of diversity and outreach, have dedicated themselves to serving and protecting the the radical Islamist elements within our city. Meanwhile, Muslims like myself, who do their best to promote the equality and respect that the police claim to cherish, are left without legal protection when radicals explicitly and publicly threaten us with violence. In Toronto, anybody can issue an “open threat” against a man laying helpless in a hospital bed and be assured they will not face charges, so long as the person making the threat is a black Muslim woman wearing a hijab.
I’m hopeful that the police may yet make the right decision, now that I have gone public with this disgrace. If not, I will know the city I love is lost.Original URL: http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2011/03/04/tarek-fatah-the-death-threats-that-dont-count/
Tarek Fatah is author of The Jew is Not My Enemy.
Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.