John Goddard

Journalist and author

Archive for the tag “David Balzer”

Radical Islam infiltrates Toronto’s “Word on the Street”


An ICNA activist at Word on the Street hands out free Islamist tracts, including one calling for holy war.

All went well at my “Word on the Street” panel last Sunday with art critic David Balzer and artist Margaux Williamson, the most charming co-panelists one could hope for. “This is a great panel — you’re so good together,” said one audience member during the Q&A. I also liked the outdoor festival’s new layout. This year the exhibits stretched around Queen’s Park from Bloor Street all the way to College Street, with food stands throughout instead of together.

It was a great day, except that the jihadis infiltrated the event. At booth #217, the Wahabi Islamists who proselytize daily at Yonge-Dundas Square gave out free Qurans and other pamphlets. At nearby booth #232, the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) gave away Towards Understanding Islam, entreating all Muslims to wage armed jihad against Christians, Jews and Hindus.

Neither of these groups belong at a family book fair. Both are hardline fundamentalist organizations. ICNA explicitly preaches sharia, jihad, and death to the West. Their presence proves that in Toronto you don’t need an Internet video to be exposed to fundamentalist Islam. On Thursday, the Toronto Globe and Mail reported that Fahim Ahmad, leader of the erstwhile Toronto 18 terrorist cell, told his parole board that he started by “proselytizing with a peaceful, global Islamic outreach movement.” The paper does not name the movement. It could be ICNA, or the Yonge-Dundas Square group, or another group like them.

How nasty are they? Take a look at the booklet ICNA was handing out, Towards Understanding Islam. The author is Sayyid Abul A’la Mawdudi, founder of the Jamaat-e-Islami, the South Asia affiliate of the Muslim Brotherhood.

“Jihad is part of this overall defense of Islam,” Mawdudi writes. By “jihad” he says he means holy war. “In the language of the Divine Law,” he writes, “this word is used specifically for the war that is waged solely in the name of God against those who perpetrate oppression as enemies of Islam. This supreme sacrifice is the responsibility of all Muslims.”

If you don’t wage jihad you are not Muslim, Mawdudi also says. “Jihad is as much a primary duty as are daily prayers or fasting,” he writes. “One who avoids it is a sinner. His every claim to being a Muslim is doubtful. He is plainly a hypocrite who fails in the test of sincerity and all his acts of worship are a sham, a worthless, hollow show of deception.”

Last May, Muslim fundamentalist organizations similarly infiltrated “Doors Open Toronto,” a family event celebrating the city’s built architecture. In Scarborough, I saw people at the Islamic Foundation of Toronto mosque handing out tables-full of the Mawdudi book. Downtown, the mosque known as Masjid Toronto also took part in the festival. The mosque is run by the Muslim Association of Canada, a Muslim Brotherhood affiliate. Here is a link to Tarek Fatah’s Toronto Sun column on the subject.–muslim-brotherhood

Ironically, last Sunday, a group of progressive Muslims called “Muslims Facing Tomorrow” held a rally during the book fair in front of the Ontario Legislature, within the festival grounds. For two hours, by themselves, speaker after speaker denounced the terrorist Islamic State and Islamist ideology, as the Wahabis and ICNA worked the book-fair crowd.


“Towards Understanding Islam,” by jihadi cleric Sayyid Abul A’la Mawdudi, features at ICNA booth #232.


This could be interesting. I am to appear at Word on the Street on Sunday, September 21, as part of a panel called “Curating Art Books,” a subject I know nothing about. My co-panelists are two members of Toronto’s avant-guarde art scene, critic David Balzer and artist Margaux Williamson, 1 p.m., New Narratives Tent, Queen’s Park Circle.

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