November 05, 2004

Elmasry update

This week, the University of Waterloo apparently made no new official statements concerning the remarks made by electrical engineering professor and national president of the Canadian Islamic Congress, Mohamed Elmasry.

On October 19, on the Michael Coren Show, Elmasry declared - and insisted when pressed for clarification - that any Israeli citizen over the age of 18 should be considered part of the military and therefore a viable target for attack. This has resulted in an investigation by the school and the police into his remarks.

However, the controversy continued in the pages of the student newspaper, The Imprint. This week, Elmasry gave his side of the story. That is to say, he changed his story. Last week he was claiming he was misunderstood; now he says the real problem was an inadequate definition of the term "terrorism":

I have always supported and promoted UN efforts to come to terms with the greatest scourge of our society. Defining terrorism - sooner rather than later - would not only make history, but could prove to be the greatest deterrent against it.

With some well-chosen words, we could break the cycle of violence and build peace instead.

[Full Story]

Better yet, Dr. Elmasry, why not repudiate your clear and unequivocal assertion that any adult Israeli is a legit target for Islamikazes? It's a little difficult to take the pretty rhetoric about "break[ing] the cycle of violence and build[ing] peace" seriously when it comes from someone who, three weeks earlier, was painting bulls-eyes on people.

Biology student Nadia Basir writes to demand an apology from the Imprint for last week's editorial cartoon depicting Elmasry spewing garbage from his mouth. Judge for yourself. Basir also attempts to argue, as did the CIC when refusing his resignation, that years of community service gives him a free pass. (Some psycho-fundy "Christians" similarly try to argue that years of "soul-winning" entitles certain church officers to the same free pass when they're caught banging the choir ladies. I don't buy it from them, either.)

PoliSci student Omair Quadri denounces Elmasry, but attempts to use a fallacious "moral equivalency" argument to say that the Jewish representative on that television panel "condoned indiscriminate violence against civilians" as well. Of course, the indiscriminate carnage caused by a Palestinian splodeydope is not equivalent to the targeted destruction of said splodeydope's house by the IDF in retribution for the attack. This moral equivalency argument is repeated in another letter, by Ahmed Datardina.

I'm surprised this controversy is still relatively tame, considering the inflammable nature of Elmasry's remarks and the embarrassment he has caused the school. But maybe I shouldn't be. After all, I spent eight years on campus and witnessed student apathy firsthand. (Heck, I was a net contributor to it.) About the only thing that really gets UW students good and angry is a public expression of religious faith. The rather vicious response to Campus Crusade's I Agree With Byron campaign (which, I have heard, included hate mail and Web site hacking in addition to complaints about pervasive advertising), and last term's defacement of UW Students for Life's ad posters are cases in point. "I feel like some six-year-old girl who just got raped by her dad," one poster cries shrilly on Byron's message board after being molested by one of CCC's horrible, dangerous sidewalk chalk ads. ("You keep it away! Aaaah! It burns! it burns!") Let a professor proclaim, "Kill all Israelis!" and that's OK, but God forbid there should be a public display of Christianity.