Canadian Idol or Canada's enemy within?


The fact that former Canadian Idol contestant Khuram Sher has been charged after an RCMP investigation called “Project Samosa” proves that truth really is stranger than fiction.

Project SAMOSA? What the hell? Who names these things?

This affair looks like a Can-con version of Slumdog Millionaire in reverse, with the cheap racial gags of Hot Shots, Part Deux thrown in for added tackiness.

Sher, also known as Khurraum Syed Sher, was charged after two other men were arrested into in relation to an alleged Ottawa-based Al Quaida terror cell.

The others, Hiza Alizadeh and Misbahuddin Ahmed both appeared in court in Ottawa this morning.

Neither one did the moonwalk, or sang an Avril Lavigne song.

I doubt if Sher will either, whenever he appears in court. But until now that was his chief claim to fame in Canada, based on a brief and bad appearance on Canadian Idol.

The urgent and obvious question this raises is, was an Al Qaida terror cell operating in Canada? If so we have great cause to be worried, and we need as much information as possible. The Toronto 18 may have been isolated and inept, but they still might have done immense damage. How much worse would it be for Al Qaida to be guiding the actions of “homegrown” terrorists?

But it’s the seemingly trivial question that really sticks with me: what would have happened if Khuram Sher had been successful on Canadian Idol? I say “seemingly,” because understanding motivation is critical to getting a handle on home-grown terrorism.

There’s a line of thinking that says one motivating factor among Islamist-leaning young radicals in the West is a sense of failure to fit in. Trapped between two worlds, the thinking goes, some young men – many from moderate first-generation Muslim families – feel like aliens in their new home but have trouble fully connecting with their heritage.

What made Sher, a mediocre singer and laughable dancer, risk his dignity in front of the surly judges of a nationally televised talent show? How did he feel when he failed? Would the acceptance and C-grade celebrity that goes with being a successful Idol contestant in Canada have filled some long-lurking need within?

Or did bombing on Idol just increase the likelihood of a bombing on Parliament Hill?

We need to get the facts first. Then we need to understand the characters.

And then just maybe we’ll get the story – a tragicomic tale we can’t afford to ignore.

6 comments on “Canadian Idol or Canada's enemy within?

  1. Toronto Star sez: According to police, Sher is actually a Canadian-born physician and graduate of McGill University – quite a different persona from the goofy contestant wearing a traditional Pakistani shalwar kameez and pakul hat as he performs robot dance moves and a Michael Jackson-style moonwalk.

    Cher, err, Sher, is quite the chameleon, si? I do love that line: Or did bombing on Idol just increase the likelihood of a bombing on Parliament Hill? You rock, Newland.

  2. When the Idol Clown gets to Hell, his father Satan will make him dance on hot coals, and his brothers the Nazis will make him sing the Horst-Wessel-Lied.

  3. What utter balderdash. So because this guy flubbed out on Canadian Idol he was somehow compelled to take up arms against the country that took his parents in, gave them (and him) welcome, education, health care, etc. etc. etc? It was okay for him to be a buffoon on a TV show by his own choice but because he was either not enough of a buffoon, or too much of one (who knows?) this character is justified in plotting the deaths of hundreds if not thousands of innocent people? Get a GRIP guy.
    This is not journalism. It’s boilerplate nonsense.

  4. You should already know the answer. I thought that not eating in the daytime was giving you special insight into Islam.

  5. Nadia,

    Thanks for your comment.

    I think you’ve missed my point entirely.

    There is nothing in my post that justifies, implicitly or explicitly, terrorism in any form.

    Nor am I suggesting that merely flunking out on “Idol” would lead to such behaviour.

    The post is an inquiry into motivation.

  6. BillB,

    Thanks for your comment.

    You thought wrong.

    I never claimed any such thing.

    What I said about respecting the daytime fast of Ramadan was, “I’m learning more about Islam, more about myself, and more about the attitudes of others.”

    Your comment is a perfect example of the latter.

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