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Jihad Denial in Toronto: Hussain Was a Known Wolf

We're all accustomed by now to the chorus of denial and deflection that erupts in the public square after every act of terrorist violence. But the response by the Canadian media to Sunday night's shooting in Toronto, in which two girls were killed and several people wounded, seemed especially heroic in its determination to avoid any mention of jihad.

Inevitably, many commentators responded to the atrocity by ranting about gun control. Toronto’s mayor, John Tory, led the way: “Why does anyone in this city need a gun at all?” he asked.

The Globe and Mail ran a 900-word piece by poet and novelist Michael Redhill, who took a poetic -- and self-centered -- approach: “On Sunday night, while I read a book at 32,000 feet, a man in a black hat began shooting people in the neighbourhood where I live. … I walked with my fellow passengers into the terminal feeling bonded in shock with them.” The site of the murders, an area called the Danforth, “has always been a joyful and protean hodgepodge of restaurants and shops where we’ve always felt safe. … Our last illusion -- that it couldn’t happen here -- is gone forever.”

Intentionally or not, Redhill echoed London Mayor Sadiq Khan's notorious remark that terrorism is an inevitable part of living in a metropolis: “Unlived lives haunt big cities such as ours and we can’t expect that the chaos and terror we saw on Sunday night can ever be completely reined in.” Redhill concluded with a touch of what felt like self-consciously sophisticated fatalism: “Who was he? Why did he do it? Could it have been prevented? The familiar unpacking will begin now. It will bring us no closer to the mystery of people like the man in the black hat.”

Meanwhile, over at the Toronto Star, “investigative reporter” Kenyon Wallace described Hussain's rampage as a “senseless act,” a “tragedy.” “Why, many are inevitably asking, would someone do such a thing?” Can this be true? Are people in Toronto, in this era when the West is constantly being hammered by Islamic massacres, really asking why someone would do such a thing?

Wallace went on to say that since the perpetrator, 29-year-old Faisal Hussain, is dead, “we cannot ask him about his motivations.” Wallace quoted with full credulity from the statement issued by Hussain's Pakistani immigrant parents. Here it is in its entirety:

We are utterly devastated by the incomprehensible news that our son was responsible for the senseless violence and loss of life that took place on the Danforth.

Our son had severe mental health challenges, struggling with psychosis and depression his entire life. The interventions of professionals were unsuccessful. Medications and therapy were unable to treat him. While we did our best to seek help for him throughout his life of struggle and pain, we could never imagine that this would be his devastating and destructive end.

Our hearts are in pieces for the victims and for our city as we all come to grips with this terrible tragedy. We will mourn those who were lost for the rest of our lives.