News Agencies – August 26, 2010
Canadian Muslim leaders were variously stunned, outraged and wary at news from Ottawa that the RCMP had broken up an alleged terrorism cell with suspected links to al-Qaeda. Few details were released about the people rounded up in the bust, but they are suspected of planning a terrorist attack in Canada and authorities anticipate more arrests.
“It’s sad to hear such news. It’s disturbing,” said Imam Habeeb Alli, secretary of the Canadian Council of Imams. The Muslim Canadian Congress expressed “shock” at the developments and commended RCMP for the operation.
The Ottawa case is considered the most significant counterterrorism operation in Canada since the 2006 Toronto 18 arrests. The ringleader in the Ottawa case allegedly attended training camps in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Similarly, in the Toronto 18 case, ringleader Fahim Ahmad was linked with a network of extremists stretching from Canada and the United States to Pakistan and the Balkans.
A new interest-free credit card, the first of its kind in North America, aims to reconcile Islamic canonical law and Western consumer culture. Until now, observant Muslims have been precluded from owning credit cards on which they pay interest, a violation of shariah law.
The iFreedom Plus Master-Card, set to be available in the coming days, promises no bills, no interest and no credit card debt. With the iFreedom Plus MasterCard, holders load up their card with cash in advance, up to $6,000. Each purchase draws down on the account without accruing interest.
Because the new product doesn’t actually involve credit, applicants are approved without a credit check. The card, which is primarily aimed at younger newcomers, was launched at the inaugural conference of the Usury-Free Association of North America in Toronto.
The International Muslim Organization of Toronto is one Muslim organization that has mobilized to help the people of Haiti following a 7.0-magnitude earthquake. “Almost all masajids and centers participated in this project,” said Dr. Zijad Delic, National Executive Director of the Canadian Islamic Congress, one of the participating groups.
In this opinion piece in the Globe and Mail daily newspaper, Canadian Muslim Sheema Khan calls on Canadian Muslims to take the threat of “home grown” terrorism seriously and warns the faithful of its danger. The Qur’an and the example of the Prophet Mohammed, she adds, are unequivocal in condemning harm to non-combatants and property. Khan concludes that Canadian Muslims can no longer sit on the sidelines on this issue and must get involved politically.
Canada, a Photo Journey Among Muslims (Pandora Press, 2009) chronicles the three-quarters of a million Muslims in Canada and they come from across the world and all the varieties of Islam. Most are Sunni Muslims, but there are Shia, Sufi, Ismaili, and secular Muslims.
The Milliken Mills Community Centre in Markham, Ontario is home to an active mostly-Muslim ball hockey league. The Madina league has eight teams, each with about 16 to 18 players. They meet every Friday night in Markham, battling towards the Madina Cup in mid-August. “The best time to play ball hockey is the nighttime, around the sunset or after the sunset,” because there are fewer prayers, said Habib, 33, as the players, bowing on a white mat in the corner of the rink, observe the fourth prayer of the day. Players shout encouragement, but there is little to no swearing. Swearing in tournament play will result in a penalty and could mean a suspension, said Habib. “We are trying to teach the religion as much as possible, and that is hard to do if you are allowing bodychecks or fighting.”
There are more than 400 Muslims playing organized ball hockey across Greater Toronto, and interest in the connection between the community and the sport is at a high. Last month, the Toronto Maple Leafs drafted their first Muslim player, Nazem Kadri.
There was dancing, but no boys – in mixed company, young Muslim women cannot dance or wear revealing clothing. No one was sneaking in alcohol – drinking is strictly forbidden by Islam. And there was no prom Queen: Instead, every graduate wore a tiara. The “Sister’s Prom” has become an annual event among Toronto’s Muslim community, and is also a symbol of the balance that defines the lives of modern young women born and raised in Canada, faithful to Islam. They have ambitions to be doctors, engineers and community leaders, while embracing the rules placed upon them by their religion – no dating, for instance.
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.
See full-text articles:
The Globe and Mail
Every year, the province of Quebec welcomes 45,000 immigrants whose religious traditions are largely _ respected. _ In their rapport stemming from the recent Reasonable Accomodation debates in the province, sociologist Gerard Bouchard and philosopher Charles Taylor noted that _ the requests for religious holidays have become increasingly frequent, coming from Protestants, practicing members of the Jewish community, and from other faiths like Islam and Hinduism. _ Canadian Muslims, the article claims, often have prayer rooms available.
Canadian Muslims and refugee advocacy groups have rebuked calls by a right-wing think tank, the Fraser Institute, to restrict the arrival of immigrants from Muslim countries. The spokesperson for the Canadian Islamic Congress, Mohamed Elmasry, in response, stated, Canadian Muslims contribute to the wealth of this country more than the average and have higher levels of education than the average.