Lawfare Project Concerned about National Council of Canadian Muslims Participation in Global Affairs Canada event

Today, The Lawfare Project sent the below correspondence expressing its concern regarding participation of the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM), formerly the Canadian Council of American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-CAN), in a Global Affairs Canada event with UN Special Rapporteurs.

***Letter Text Begins Below***

Dear Prospective Global Affairs Canada “Interactive Dialogue” Meeting Participant,

It has been brought to the attention of The Lawfare Project (LP), a legal think tank based in New York City, that you may have been invited by Global Affairs Canada to a gathering it describes as an “Interactive dialogue with UN Special Rapporteurs,” scheduled for April 6, 2017. It has further come to our attention that invitees include persons representing or connected to the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM), formerly the Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-CAN, CAIR.CAN, CAIR-Canada).

The LP is concerned that your credibility and standing, and that of other individuals and organizations attending or involved in the April 6 event, including government officials and NGOs, would be harmed by involvement in a conference attended by NCCM/CAIR.CAN.

NCCM/CAIR.CAN has long been a highly controversial organization in the context of Islamist radicalism. Links to a series of mainstream articles and other documents examining NCCM/CAIR.CAN, is appended for recipients’ personal review in the course of their own due-diligence analysis. These deal in various ways with a number of concerns about NCCM/CAIR.CAN, and invite many questions, among them:

  • Why has NCCM/CAIR.CAN never condemned, publicly and by name, its Saudi-funded, US-based mother organization, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), despite the latter’s designation as a US unindicted co-conspirator organization in the Holy Land Foundation terror-funding prosecution and its having been declared a terrorist organization by at least one country?
  • Why has NCCM/CAIR.CAN never condemned, publicly and by name, all of those persons who were materially linked to the US mother organization and were found guilty of terrorism-related charges—including CAIR’s own, former “civil rights coordinator”? How is this consistent with a dedication to counter-radicalization and counter-terrorism?
  • Does NCCM/CAIR.CAN—and, for that matter, Global Affairs Canada—understand that, according to the National Post, CAIR is “linked by the FBI to the Muslim Brotherhood-created Hamas support network in the U.S., and still considered unsuitable by them as “an appropriate liaison partner” for any government outreach?” Has Global Affairs Canada failed—contrary to Canada’s interest in domestic stability and good Canada-US relations—to examine NCCM/CAIR.CAN’s record, including as conveyed in testimony about NCCM/CAIR.CAN before Canada’s House of Commons Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security?
  • Will NCCM/CAIR.CAN at last release all documents it has disclosed in the course of any court proceedings in which it has been involved, including those described as part of what was regarded by some as a combined, multi-year Canada-US “libel lawfare” nuisance-lawsuit attempt by CAIR and CAIR.CAN/NCCM to silence commentators who were demanding answers about these organizations? In the event that NCCM/CAIR.CAN operatives should claim that such documents cannot be released as a result of discretionary confidentiality obligations, why did NCCM/CAIR.CAN agree to such obligations? Was this part of an attempt to render the public record incomplete, and thwart necessary examination of NCCM/CAIR.CAN?
  • Why did NCCM/CAIR.CAN produce, with the troubling Islamic Social Services Association, “United Against Terrorism”, a supposed counter-radicalization handbook recommending as scholars “to consult to gain an accurate understanding of our faith,” individuals such as: Dr. Ingrid Mattson, former head of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), a US unindicted co-conspirator organization; Dr. Jamal Badawi, a former ISNA officer known for recommending light physical punishment for uncooperative wives; Sheikh Siraj Wahhaj, another US unindicted co-conspirator; and other questionable individuals?
  • Was this why an embarrassed RCMP suddenly withdrew its misguided support for the handbook project? Why, given this withdrawal, do NCCM/CAIR.CAN and ISSA mislead the public by continuing to distribute the document, domestically and internationally, with the RCMP logo still on its cover?
  • Is it true that CAIR.CAN changed its name in 2013 to NCCM, in order to escape its history, while maintaining its contacts and approach?
  • Why has NCCM/CAIR.CAN, notwithstanding its advertised “Stronger Together” public relations spin, persisted in sowing division and discord, and risking alienating Muslims from Canadian society, with exaggerated“Islamophobia” studies and narratives—narratives that have been condemned by many mainstream Canadian Muslims? Why has NCCM/CAIR.CAN pushed the narrative that downplays the statistically far greater suffering of other minorities—individual Canadian Jews, for example, in a recent year, facing eight times the police-reported hate-crime risk encountered by Canadian Muslims, based on Canadian government statistics?

The LP is persuaded that the totality of publicly available evidence about NCCM/CAIR.CAN raises questions of such gravity that the organization should have no place gaining the legitimacy and networking opportunity that inevitably would flow from its participation in the April 6, 2017 Global Affairs Canada gathering. Moreover, we believe that the Government of Canada should undertake a review to determine how it came to be that NCCM/CAIR.CAN operatives and certain connected individuals and organizations were not screened out of the invitation process. This, especially at a time when genuinely reputable Canadian Muslim organizations, such as the Muslim Canadian Congress and the Council for Muslims Facing Tomorrow, exist.

It will be important for authorities to determine whether anyone associated organizationally or ideologically with NCCM/CAIR.CAN used improper influence from within Global Affairs Canada or elsewhere to facilitate NCCM/CAIR.CAN involvement in the scheduled conference. More than a serious judgment issue, this could constitute a security issue.

Consistent with indications, above, the LP cautions that several individuals and organizations, including certain conference invitees, may, in failure of their own professional due diligence obligations or otherwise, already have histories of engagement with NCCM/CAIR.CAN. This being the case, NCCM/CAIR.CAN “partners” and connections—including government officials implicated in this event—may, contrary to the evidence and their own public trust obligations, feel obliged to come to the defense of NCCM/CAIR.CAN, lest their own diligence failure and compromised position be exposed to public and professional review.

The LP anticipates that, based on the group’s record, NCCM/CAIR.CAN operatives, together with collaborating associates in other organizations, will respond to this expression of concern by pressing compromised persons and organizations for “endorsements”, in order to sweep aside substantive questions about NCCM/CAIR.CAN’s history, present and past connections, and agenda.  Those prospective April 6 conference attendees conducting due-diligence assessments in the reputational interest of themselves and their organizations should not be diverted by such campaigns from the substantive questions raised in the present communication, and arising from some of the material appended below. Indeed, in light of the record, any individual or entity inclined to endorse NCCM/CAIR.CAN should be considered, at best, ethically problematic.

The LP encourages Canadian media to investigate this situation, and to consider submitting appropriate Access to Information requests in support of their investigative work.

Benjamin Ryberg
Chief Operating Officer / Director of Research, The Lawfare Project

Selected Articles About NCCM/CAIR.CAN

(Note: Unless explicitly stated otherwise, the following articles, and material available through associated links, do not necessarily reflect the views of The Lawfare Project or associated persons or organizations. The articles are provided to recipients for their own exclusive educational or informational use.)

The Lawfare Project