Toronto’s Museum of Islamic art: “… sheep’s clothing”?

Canada’s Hamilton Spectator recently reported the following:

TORONTO — The first museum in North America devoted to Islamic art will help promote an understanding of a religion that is based on tolerance and pluralism, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Friday at the new landmark’s opening ceremony.

The Aga Khan — spiritual leader of the world’s Ismaili community — joined Harper in Toronto to celebrate the opening of his namesake museum, the $300-million Aga Khan museum and Ismaili centre.

Full Article:  http://www.thespec.com/news-story/4858907-museum-of-islamic-art-opens-in-toronto/

Canadian Prime Minister Harper’s track record with the country’s Muslim community has been bumpy this year.  In January 2014, The National Council of Canadian Muslims (formerly CAIR Canada)  filed a libel suit against him over his failure to apologize for a comment linking the organization to the terrorist group Hamas.  His appearance at the museum’s opening may improve his image with Muslims and Harper has maintained a relationship with the Aga Khan for several years.  In 2010, it was reported that the Prime Minister had conferred an honorary Canadian citizenship on the Aga Khan- only the fifth person to be so honored.

The relationship  may cause some concerns with Harper’s supporters.

The Ismailis, also refered to as Seveners,  are a subset of  Shia Muslims.  They are viewed as a peaceful group, but there are a few troubling issues with their leader.   The Aga Khan , controls a vast international network of business and philanthropic ventures and his estimated net worth is over $800 million.  Through the Aga Khan Development Network these holdings include a controlling interest in Habib Bank (HBL)/HBL Pakistan.

In 2007, Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl’s widow Mariane sued the bank for damages relating to its funding of al-Qaida and involvement in the 2002 murder of her husband by Islamic jihad terrorists.  The suit alleged Habib Bank knowingly provided financial services for al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups.  The suit was dropped a few months after filing with Mariane Perl’s lawyers only stating that the bank had not answered the suit.  In 2002, the Pakistan’s Privatization Commission granted the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development (AKFED), part of the Aga Khan Development Network, majority ownership of HBL against an AKFED’s investment in the bank.    In 2004, the Pakistani government turned over full  management control of Habib Bank to AKFED.

In 2012, Money Jihad reported:

Habib Bank and its former compliance officer Syed Itrat Hussain have been fined over a half million pounds by the British for downplaying the risks of dealing with customers in jurisdictions prone to money laundering and terror finance.

The Aga Khan Development Network  has also spent over $40 million since 2003 to develop business in Syria,  under the Assad regime.  The U.S. designated Syria a State Sponsor of Terrorism in 1979.

sidenote – In 2011, Texas Gov. Rick Perry received criticism after a Salon.com article focused on his relationship with the Aga Khan.

 

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