The Globe and Mail – July 26, 2011
The British Columbia Supreme Court has turned down a petition for payment of a dowry under a marriage contract authorized in a sharia court of Amman, Jordan. Huwayda Al-Masri had asked the court to compel her ex-husband Ossama Aziz to pay her a dowry of 500 grams of 21-carat gold, which is currently worth around $22,000. The dowry was set out in a Muslim mahr agreement, written in Arabic and signed by Mr. Aziz and Ms. Al-Masri at the time of their marriage in 1997. Ms. Al-Masri, who was 19 at the time of the wedding, was born in Tennessee. Mr. Aziz, then a 29-year-old student who had previously been married, was originally from Baghdad. He had Canadian citizenship at the time of the wedding.
The couple settled in British Columbia but later divorced. Believing that she could rely on the maher, Ms. Al-Masri did not contest the divorce application and did not receive spousal support. However, Mr. Justice Arne Silverman decided he did not have sufficient evidence to enforce the provisions of the marriage contract under Jordanian or Canadian law.
Judge Silverman reviewed four cases from Ontario and B.C., where the courts had upheld similar contracts and decided Ms. Al-Masri was not entitled to the dowry. “I recognize that there may well be national or cultural traditions in Jordan which would resolve the question of to whom a dowry should be payable,” he said. However, he did not have any evidence before him to resolve the issue, he wrote; he did not have any expert evidence with respect to Jordanian law. Ms. Al-Masri will be appealing the decision.
News Agencies – March 10, 2011
The Coquitlam RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) and the B.C. hate-crime team are investing a report of a racial slur spray-painted on the side of a mosque and Islamic cultural centre in Port Coquitlam.
“Any graffiti can have a negative impact on how safe people feel in their neighborhood, and it’s much more disturbing when the graffiti is a racial slur,” said Const. Kristina Biro in a press release. “We encourage anyone that sees criminal or suspicious activity to report it to police.”
Most Canadians agree with a proposed Quebec law that would refuse all government services to women wearing the niqab or burqa, an Angus Reid poll has found.
Ninety-five per cent of Quebecers support the proposed law, which would bar the face veil from government offices, schools and other publicly funded institutions, said the poll, conducted for The Gazette. In the rest of Canada, three out of four people agreed with Bill 94, which was tabled on Wednesday by the government of Jean Charest. The bill would require all public-sector employees to have their faces uncovered, as well as any citizen using government services, such as someone applying for a medicare card.
Mario Canseco, vice-president of public affairs for Angus Reid, said the survey shows an unusually high level of support for a government measure. “It’s very rare to get 80% of Canadians to agree on something,” he said. The poll showed that outside Quebec, Albertans are most likely to support the veil ban, with 82% approving the bill, followed by Ontario with 77% support, the Atlantic provinces (73%) and British Columbia (70%). Support for withholding government services from those wearing the face veil was lowest in Manitoba and Saskatchewan, at 65%.
Bloc Quebecois supporters favored the bill most (95%), along with Conservatives (86%) and Liberals (81%). Three-quarters of NDP supporters agreed with the bill.
The Ottawa Citizen profiles Dr. Zijad Delic, who immigrated to Canada in 1995 from Bosnia and received his PhD from Simon Fraser University ten years later. Delic is currently an imam at British Columbia’s largest Sunni Mosque as well as an administrator at the B.C. Muslim school. He is coordinating “Islamic History Month Canada,” proclaimed by the Canadian federal government in the month of October.
The northern British Columbia city of Prince George (population 70,000) 800 kms from Vancouver is getting its first mosque, and with it a sense of new life in the struggling city. Civic leaders hope the multimillion-dollar Islamic cultural and educational centre will be a beacon that draws highly skilled professionals to a city that badly needs to diversify its forestry-dominated economy. For the city’s roughly 200 Muslim families, the mosque is a welcome change to the non-permanent prayer locations in past years.
The B.C. Muslim Association’s Prince George chapter approached the city six years ago with a pitch that a mosque could attract desired professionals. In 2003, the group approached the city to buy and rezone a piece of land to build a mosque. The city unanimously approved the request. The projected cost is between $1.5- and $2-million. About $500,000 has been raised from private donors across the province.
In an effort to generate interest among Muslims in careers in the Canadian military, the Canadian Forces have begun making appearances in mosques. Reception is mixed. At Burnaby, British Columbia’s Al-Salaam mosque, some members claim a religious institutions should not be used to showcase the military, while others warn of an organization involved in a combat mission in Afghanistan where fellow Muslims are being killed.
Lieutenant-Commander Kris Phililps of the Canadian National Defense Public Affairs Office says that like women and Aboriginal people, Canadian Muslims are underrepresented in the Forces. The sessions seek to disseminate information in a direct, unfiltered manner to minority groups. They also highlight the army’s “Muslim-friendly” accommodations, including the availability of halal foods and Muslim chaplains.
The Canadian Forces has made strides in attracting women (about 37% are now women), but only 5.4% are visible minorities and just under 4% are aboriginal.
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The Canadian Human Rights Commission has dismissed a complaint against Maclean’s weekly news magazine over a controversial article on the future of Islam. The Canadian Islamic Council launched a dual complaint of Islamophobia to the Canadian Commission as well as the provincial British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal over a article, The Future Belongs to Islam, written by Mark Steyn, appearing in October 2006. The decision by the B.C. Human Rights commission is not expected for several months.
Canadian law students Muneeza, Sheikh, Naseem Mithoowani, Khurrum Awan and Ali Ahmed, and CIC (Canadian Islamic Congress) president, Dr. Mohamed Elmasry both filed complaints to the Ontario Human Rights Commission about an article, “The Future Belongs to Islam,” (an except from Mark Steyn’s American Alone: THE End of the World as We Know It) appearing in Maclean’s Magazine, a weekly current affairs publication, in October 2006. The article suggested that Muslims pose a threat to North American life. While the Commission stated that this “media coverage has been identified as contributing to Islamophobia and promoting societal intolerance towards Muslim, Arab, and South Asian Canadians,” it announced that it will not proceed with legal action. In Ontario, magazines are not covered under the Human Rights Code. Related complaints against Maclean’s have been filed with the British Columbia and Federal Human Rights Commissions. Its code covers publications. Hearings have been scheduled before the BC Commission from June 2-6, 2008 under s. 7(1) of the BC Human Rights Code, which prohibits publications that subject identifiable communities to hate. The Federal Commission is currently in the process of investigating similar complaints.