Back in the 1960s, the blue-collar town of New Waterford in Cape Breton produced lots of coal, gritty, hard-drinking miners and, it turns out, the devout Muslim wife of one of Canada's most notorious terrorist suspects.
Long before Cheryfa MacAulay Jamal, 44, was hidden behind a burka, fighting the promotion of homosexuality in Toronto's public schools and married to Qayyum Jamal, she was the daughter of a Cape Breton schoolteacher who once attended a college that teaches Gaelic.
Mrs. Jamal, a mother of four, has kept silent about her husband and herself since the RCMP dismantled an alleged bomb plot in a series of raids last week. However, Internet postings she wrote in recent years obtained by The Globe and Mail reveal her small-town past and the long, winding path that drew her away from the Atlantic Ocean and toward Islam.
Her story starts nearly 200 years ago, she wrote on an Internet forum devoted to Cape Bretoners, when her ancestors sailed from Scotland aboard a ship called the Anne of Sheeles, landed in Pictou County and traversed the rough terrain to Cape Breton. From there, the MacAulays took up roots. No one in the area was able to confirm her original first name last night.
How any Canadian woman can get herself mixed up with a woman-hating culture is beyond my logical understanding. But hundreds of them do, every year.