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Islam and Canada

Omar Khadr, alleged Candian born terrorist
Crossing Continents
Thursday, 18 December, 2008
At 1102 GMT on BBC Radio 4

Is Canada's prized tradition of tolerance under threat as it tries to accommodate a fast-growing Muslim community?

Many Canadians believe they have created the best, the most successful liberal democracy in the world. The country has embraced immigration, building a multicultural mosaic.

Which is why the country was so shocked when an alleged terrorist plot was uncovered, targeting Parliament and the CBC, the Canadian equivalent of the BBC.

The man arrested were young Islamists, born and raised in Canada with all the benefits of liberal democracy.

Bill Law returns to his home country to investigate, talking to key figures like Mubin Shaikh, who infiltrated the suspected terrorist cell, and who is now the chief witness against the members.

He meets Zaynab Khadr, a member of what Canada's right-wing press have called "the first family of terror." Her father was an associate of Osama Bin Laden and her younger brother is the last citizen of a Western country to be held at Guantanamo Bay.

And from community leaders like Zafar Bangsh, he hears of concerns that the police and intelligence services are subjecting innocent Muslims to surveillance and harassment.

In a country which prides itself on equality and fairness and where many Muslims have prospered while maintaining their cultural and religious identity, how deep are the twin threats of Islamist extremism and of official over-reaction?

BBC Radio 4's Crossing Continents was broadcast on Thursday, 18 November, 2008 at 1102 GMT. It was repeated on Monday, 22 December, 2008 at 2030 GMT.

Reporter and Producer: Bill Law



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