From Canada with hate: Terror sympathizer Tariq Abdelhaleem

From Canada with hate: Terror sympathizer Tariq Abdelhaleem
Hate preacher Tariq Abdelhaleem. (Supplied photo)
Updated 06 August 2019

From Canada with hate: Terror sympathizer Tariq Abdelhaleem

From Canada with hate: Terror sympathizer Tariq Abdelhaleem
  • Ontario-based advocate of Islamic radicalism instigates unrest in Egypt, rails against “crusaders and secularists”
  • Abdelhaleem has peddled anti-Western conspiracy theories and lauded Osama bin Laden as a "martyr"

DUBAI: It may seem strange that a prominent Sunni Salafi jihadist and preacher of hate has lived unmolested in the West since the 1980s. Yet Dr. Tariq Abdelhaleem probably sees nothing odd at all about promoting Islamic radicalism while enjoying the hospitality of Canada.

He is an unabashed proponent of the ideas of two major Salafi revivalists of the last century: Syed Abul ‘Ala Maududi, the Pakistani author and activist, and Sayyid Qutb, the Egyptian theorist of violent jihad.

Abdelhaleem’s regressive views on women offer a window into his mind. “The secular West has dangerously affected our society and Islamic concepts through its cultural legacy, despite the widespread veiling of Arab women,” he has said. “To see the deep impact of Western culture on Arab societies, it is enough to look at the phenomena of unveiling and debauchery.”

Drawing lines between “pious and impious women,” he claims both “have lived in the same environments, subjected to the same cultural impacts (but that the former) have rejected everything that is banned and contrary to Islam. There are some things that are inculcated in the environment, fueled by cultural sources such as the media, education and emerging customs, which resonates in women’s spirits, hidden in a dark corner of the human psyche.”

Dr. Hani Nasira, an expert on ideological movements, said Abdulhaleem has been taking advantage of the freedoms granted by his adopted country to disseminate his message.

Following the upheavals of 2011 in Egypt, which saw the Muslim Brotherhood gain political power, Canada-based Abdelhaleem founded what he called the “Sunni Movement to Save Egypt” and became its secretary-general, in partnership with Sheikh Dr. Hani Sibai. He also wrote ferociously, including on “Introducing the Sunni Movement to Save Egypt” and “Our Faith and Our Movement.”


BIO

Name: Tariq Abdelhaleem

Nationality: Egyptian

Place of Residence" Mississauga, Ontario, Canada

Occupation Cleric:  head of the Dar Al-Arqam Institute

Medium: YouTube, Twitter, and his website Tariq-abdelhaleem.net


But when Mohamed Morsi was ousted by the Egyptian military in July 2013, Abdelhaleem vented his displeasure at the Grand Sheikh of Al-Azhar, Ahmed El-Tayeb, considered by many to be the highest authority in Sunni Islamic thought.

“A coup has been carried out by the military, supported by crusaders, secularists, the atheist media, artists and the Egyptian judiciary,” he said in an interview. “This whole group, and those who follow them, are like the dog of Al-Azhar, who ... is not worthy of praise, but is loathsome, malicious and abominable.”

Abdelhaleem also accused El-Tayeb of sitting at “the council of politicians with (deposed Egyptian President Hosni) Mubarak in the presence of … infidels loyal to infidels.”

According to Nasira, “Abdelhaleem’s bet is on a global armed Islamic revolution. He also calls for individual jihadist attacks and offers religious justification for suicide bombings and other terrorist operations.”

Born in Egypt in 1948, his maternal grandfather was Abdul Aziz Al-Bishri, an academic and moderate writer, while his paternal grandfather was a scholar at Cairo’s Al-Azhar University.

By all accounts, Abdelhaleem warmed to the idea of violent jihad from a relatively young age. After settling in Canada in the late 1980s, he founded the Dar Al-Arqam Institution and began teaching a course in Islamic sharia law in cooperation with the American Open University in 1998. He also edited Ummat Al-Islam, a periodical that appears in both Arabic and English, for several years in Toronto.


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• Preachers of Hate: Tariq Abdelhaleem


Most of Abdelhaleem’s writing revolves around monotheism, governance, Western principles and policies, and the actions of specific groups and ongoing developments, especially those concerning Syria and jihadist factions active in the Levant. He distributes his takes on international issues via Twitter.

“Abdelhaleem is particularly dangerous because of his numerous publications and media platforms,” Nasira told Arab News. “As soon as one is shut, he sets up another. He also has a YouTube channel and a website through which he propagates his views and analysis.”

Exposure to Canada’s democratic values does not appear to have affected him. Take, for instance, his views Abdel Fattah El-Sisi.

“I do not blame this godless El-Sisi. I do not blame him,” Abdelhaleem said after Mohamed Morsi was ousted in Egypt. “This is how he was raised. He was raised in depravity and was taught to steal and loot. This is, in fact, one of Morsi’s failings. It is one of his failings and he did not realize this. He indulged in democracy and kept repeating words like ‘democracy, freedom, we are this, we are that,’ etc. This has brought us to the current situation.

“The establishment of Daesh … has revived in the hearts of many Muslims a dream that was hard to achieve, but now seems closer,” he said. “This news has quenched the thirst of many Muslims in the desert of defeat ... but events can be unpredictable, and calamities come from where they are not expected.

“But this is not the time for blame. We have done enough blaming, and protested and criticized a lot, but no one listened. But today is the day of Islam’s victory … I say that the situation today is very critical for Muslims.”

To say Abdelhaleem encouraged unrest in Egypt in the wake of the events of 2013 would be an understatement. “El-Sisi is a godless, filthy dog,” he said of the president. “This is the chastisement God has decided for the likes of these: Let them be killed and crushed, do not stop. It is wonderful that you are demonstrating, but there must be a real, well-planned and organized attack.”

Nasira describes Abdelhaleem’s remarks about Egypt as “nothing short of an invitation to kill military officers and assassinate government officials.”

Ideologically, Canada-based Abdelhaleem endorses the tactics of Al-Qaeda and its affiliates. It appears he broadly supports Salafi jihadist ideologues while disagreeing with them selectively. Choosing between Al-Qaeda and Daesh, when the latter first appeared on the scene in the Middle East, was not easy for him.

Opinion

This section contains relevant reference points, placed in (Opinion field)

“We had described the people of Daesh as pure and serious in their jihad, as the martyr Sheikh Osama bin Laden said when it was first formed, and he was joined by Sheikh Ayman Al-Zawahiri. However, time has shown us in the leadership of Al-Qaeda things that erased doubts and replaced pain with hope after the creed of this state began to gradually emerge, revealing its truth and forming a complete picture.”

At the same time, from his perch in Canada, Abdelhaleem has peddled familiar anti-Western conspiracy theories. “Daesh is both a local and a US creation. The US has been turning a blind eye, removing obstacles from its way, guiding its leader while he was in a US prison, and providing Baathists with information to infiltrate its leadership,” he said on Twitter. “The purpose here is to create an internal conflict between Muslims after US troops withdraw from Iraq.

“We have never seen an internal conflict so fierce between Muslim factions before. The US had to withdraw from Iraq while ensuring the continuation of the internal conflict. Therefore, it offered Daesh the opportunity to divide and fragment any potential future effort under the illusion of monotheism, and this is a well-known US tactic.”

According to Nasira, "In Abdelhaleem’s view, democracy and human rights are apostasy while the rules-based international order is merely the law of the Christian-Zionist West, with which the current conflict is a religious one persisting for centuries since the advent of Islam.

“Here is a man, who sounds overly confident of his ideas and positions and hates not just Islamic governments and the West but everyone who does not support Al-Qaeda’s ideology and ideas.”

 


Victim of London terror attack will return to rehabilitating prisoners

Victim of London terror attack will return to rehabilitating prisoners
Updated 14 min ago

Victim of London terror attack will return to rehabilitating prisoners

Victim of London terror attack will return to rehabilitating prisoners
  • Stephanie Szczotko was stabbed by Usman Khan at a rehabilitation event for prisoners
  • ‘I’ve always enjoyed support work and helping people, so I want to carry on with that’

LONDON: A criminology graduate who was injured during the 2019 Fishmonger’s Hall attack in London has said she will return to rehabilitating prisoners.

Stephanie Szczotko, 26, was stabbed in the arm by Usman Khan during his murderous spree at a rehabilitation event for prisoners on license. 

Khan, 28, killed two of his victims — Jack Merritt, 25, and Saskia Jones, 23 — both of whom were workers from the Learning Together initiative, a rehabilitation scheme backed by Cambridge University.

The terrorist, who was shot dead on London Bridge by a firearm officer, was wearing a fake suicide vest.

Szczotko, from Bath in the west of England, visited prisons on behalf of the initiative during her criminology degree, and attended the Fishmonger’s Hall event as an alumni of the group.

She has remained an advocate of prisoner rehabilitation and restorative justice efforts, saying the attack “didn’t really change my opinion.”

She added that many of the ex-offenders at the event put themselves in harm’s way by challenging Khan as he started his rampage. 

“I’ve always enjoyed support work and helping people, so I want to carry on with that — maybe working with youth offenders,” Szczotko said.

The inquest into the deaths of Merritt and Jones starts on Monday. Witnesses will give evidence as the inquest seeks to establish what, if anything, the security services and the police knew ahead of the attack.


Official says Chinese vaccines’ effectiveness is low

Official says Chinese vaccines’ effectiveness is low
Updated 53 min 18 sec ago

Official says Chinese vaccines’ effectiveness is low

Official says Chinese vaccines’ effectiveness is low
  • Chinese vaccines “don’t have very high protection rates,” said the director of the China Centers for Disease Control

BEIJING: In a rare admission of the weakness of Chinese coronavirus vaccines, the country’s top disease control official says their effectiveness is low and the government is considering mixing them to give them a boost.
Chinese vaccines “don’t have very high protection rates,” said the director of the China Centers for Disease Control, Gao Fu, at a conference Saturday in the southwestern city of Chengdu.
Beijing has distributed hundreds of millions of doses in other countries while also trying to promote doubt about the effectiveness of Western vaccines.
“It’s now under formal consideration whether we should use different vaccines from different technical lines for the immunization process,” Gao said.
The effectiveness rate of a coronavirus vaccine from Sinovac, a Chinese developer, at preventing symptomatic infections has been found to be as low as 50.4% by researchers in Brazil. By comparison, the vaccine made by Pfizer has been found to be 97% effective.
Beijing has yet to approve any foreign vaccines for use in China, where the coronavirus emerged in late 2019.
Gao gave no details of possible changes in strategy but mentioned mRNA, a previously experimental technique used by Western vaccine developers while China’s drug makers used traditional technology.
“Everyone should consider the benefits mRNA vaccines can bring for humanity,” Gao said. “We must follow it carefully and not ignore it just because we already have several types of vaccines already.”
Gao previously raised questions about the safety of mRNA vaccines. He was quoted by the official Xinhua News Agency as saying in December he couldn’t rule out negative side effects because they were being used for the first time on healthy people.
Chinese state media and popular health and science blogs also have questioned the safety and effectiveness of the Pfizer vaccine, which uses mRNA.
As of April 2, some 34 million people have received both of the two doses required by Chinese vaccines and about 65 million received one, according to Gao.
Experts say mixing vaccines, or sequential immunization, might boost effectiveness rates. Trials around the world are looking at mixing of vaccines or giving a booster shot after a longer time period. Researchers in Britain are studying a possible combination of Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines.


Philippines to ease some tough COVID-19 restrictions from Monday

Philippines to ease some tough COVID-19 restrictions from Monday
Updated 11 April 2021

Philippines to ease some tough COVID-19 restrictions from Monday

Philippines to ease some tough COVID-19 restrictions from Monday
  • Metro Manila and the provinces of Bulacan, Rizal, Laguna and Cavite will be placed under a less restrictive community quarantine status until April 30
  • The Philippines is battling one of the worst coronavirus outbreaks in Asia

MANILA: Strict COVID-19 lockdowns in the Philippines capital and four adjacent provinces will be eased from April 12, a spokesman for President Rodrigo Duterte said on Sunday.
Metro Manila and the provinces of Bulacan, Rizal, Laguna and Cavite will be placed under a less restrictive community quarantine status until April 30, spokesman Harry Roque told a virtual briefing.
Roque gave the briefing from hospital where he is being treated for COVID-19. He gave no details on which restrictions will be eased but said details would be released on Monday.
The Philippines is battling one of the worst coronavirus outbreaks in Asia, with hospitals in the capital overwhelmed amid record daily infections, while authorities face delays in delivery of COVID-19 vaccines.
On Sunday, the Department of Health recorded 11,681 new COVID-19 cases and 201 more deaths, bringing the country’s tallies to 864,868 confirmed infections and 14,945 fatalities.
New cases have surge in recent weeks, surpassing 15,000 on April 2, most of those in the congested capital.
Last week, Duterte canceled a weekly televised address and a meeting with his coronavirus task force as some of his staff and security detail were found to be COVID-19 positive.
Roque and Duterte’s defense minister, Delfin Lorenzana, also tested positive.
Roque said the government will work to increase the number of COVID-19 beds in health care facilities and free up more room in hospitals.
Under the current quarantine classification for Manila and surrounding areas, non-essential movement is banned, along with mass gatherings and dining in restaurants, with longer-than-usual curfews also in place since March 29.
The reimposition of strict lockdowns has raised concerns the economy will take longer to recover from last year’s worst slump on record.


South Korea to resume wider use of AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine, exclude people under 30

South Korea to resume wider use of AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine, exclude people under 30
Updated 11 April 2021

South Korea to resume wider use of AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine, exclude people under 30

South Korea to resume wider use of AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine, exclude people under 30
  • South Korea on Wednesday suspended providing the AstraZeneca shot to people under 60
  • Risks of coronavirus are far worse than the rare possibility of side effects from the vaccines

SEOUL: South Korean authorities said on Sunday they will move ahead with a coronavirus vaccination drive this week, after deciding to continue using AstraZeneca PLC’s vaccine for all eligible people 30 years old or over.
South Korea on Wednesday suspended providing the AstraZeneca shot to people under 60 as Europe reviewed cases of blood clotting in adults.
People under 30 will still be excluded from the vaccinations resuming on Monday because the benefits of the shot do not outweigh the risks for that age group, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said in a statement.
Three vaccinated people in South Korea are reported to have developed blood clots, with one case determined to be correlated to the vaccine, Choi Eun-hwa, chair of the Korea Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, told a briefing.
That case was a type of blood clot considered less serious than the type being examined by European authorities, she said.
For most people, the risks of coronavirus are far worse than the rare possibility of side effects from the vaccines, Choi said, adding that the best way to end the pandemic was to vaccinate everyone who can receive it.
But she said, “the benefits are not as great for those under 30 years old, so we will not recommend the AstraZeneca vaccine for them.”
The AstraZeneca shot’s benefit-to-risk ratio rises the older people get as the risk of serious harm due to vaccination falls and ICU admissions prevented by vaccination rise sharply, according to the University of Cambridge’s Winton Center for Risk and Evidence Communication.
The drugmaker has said its studies have found no higher risk of clots because of its vaccine, millions of doses of which have been administered worldwide. The World Health Organization has said the benefits outweigh the risks.
Global controversy over the efficacy and side-effects of some COVID-19 vaccines has caused some delays in South Korea’s vaccination campaign, which kicked off in late February with the goal of reaching herd immunity in November.
The second-quarter vaccination program includes special disability school teachers and vulnerable groups, including people with disabilities and the homeless, the KDCA said.


Philippines, US defense chiefs hope to resume joint military drill

Philippines, US defense chiefs hope to resume joint military drill
Updated 11 April 2021

Philippines, US defense chiefs hope to resume joint military drill

Philippines, US defense chiefs hope to resume joint military drill
  • The US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin III reiterated the importance of the two countries’ Visiting Forces Agreement

MANILA: Philippine and US defense chiefs on Sunday expressed hopes to resume the joint “Balikatan” military exercise that was canceled last year, as they discussed the situation in the South China Sea.

Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin III also discussed in a telephone conference recent developments in regional security, according to a statement issued by Lorenzana’s department.

“Both are looking forward to the conduct of Exercise Balikatan,” the statement said.

Their conversation comes just days after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin, also in a phone call, expressed their shared concerns about Chinese vessels, which Manila believes are manned by militia, in the South China Sea.

The Philippines has protested against the presence of the Chinese boats inside its 200-mile exclusive economic zone at Whitsun Reef in the strategic waterway, repeatedly asking China to move the vessels away.

Chinese diplomats, however, have said the fishing boats were just sheltering from rough seas and no militia were aboard.

Austin, during the telephone conference, reiterated the importance of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) between the two countries, while Lorenzana committed to discussing the matter with President Rodrigo Duterte.

In February, Duterte said he had not made a decision yet on the future of the two-decade-old troop deployment agreement with the United States.

The VFA provides the legal framework under which US troops can operate on a rotational basis in the Philippines.

Relations between the United States and its former Asian colony have been complicated since 2016 when Duterte, who has repeatedly made statements condemning US foreign policy while befriending China, rose to power.

Duterte has said the United States must pay more if it wants to maintain the VFA, which he unilaterally canceled last year in an angry response to an ally being denied a US visa.

The VFA’s withdrawal period has been twice extended, creating what Philippine officials say is a window for better terms to be agreed.

Lorenzana likewise sought the assistance of Austin in expediting the delivery of doses of the COVID-19 vaccine developed by US pharmaceutical and biotechnology company Moderna that the Philippines has ordered.

Austin “would look into the issue and bring it to the attention of the office concerned,” the statement said.