CBC News – November 12, 2012
A war memorial was vandalized in Toronto’s Coronation Park, just hours after Canadians paid tribute to veterans and fallen soldiers on Remembrance Day. Someone scrawled the message “Canada Will Burn Praise Allah” on the Victory Peace memorial, located near Lake Shore Boulevard and Strachan Avenue. Toronto police are treating the vandalism as a hate crime.
“It offends the nation at large because these war veterans have made the ultimate sacrifice and that’s just a slap in the face,” said Det. Anthony Williams. The Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations released a statement saying that both “Islam and Canada’s proud heritage are denigrated by this ignorant act.”
CBC – October 26, 2012
Quebec’s Agricultural Ministry ieyed many farms as thousands of Muslims took part in traditional lamb sacrifices to celebrate the Eid al-Adha. The Muslim Canadian Congress said it is pleased with the government’s decision to ensure regulations are respected during the religious celebration.
Mayor of Mont-Saint-Grégoire Suzanne Boulais, a town about 50 kilometres southeast of Montreal, also kept a close eye on a nearby farm. “I have no problem with Muslims slaughtering lambs, but it must be done legally,” she said. “This person does not have a permit for a slaughterhouse, and it’s not in a zone where the municipality allows it.” Fines for such charges can cost between $5,000 and $15,000. A second offence could cost someone up to $45,000. In the last five years, nine people have been charged with operating illegal abattoirs.
CBC News – July 31, 2012
More and more Canadian young people receive reminders of the five daily prayers on their smartphones. Many use iPray — an iPhone app — that is among a host of smartphone offerings that aid Muslims in the observance of Islamic rituals. “We can be connected and are able to look up something, such as text from the Quran, at a moment’s notice, and anywhere,” says Ahtisham, the co-chair of the youth committee at the Muslim Association of Hamilton and a recent McMaster University graduate.
Fahad Gilani, operations manager and lead developer at Guided Ways Technologies, says downloads of Islamic apps during Ramadan rises upward 10 times the ordinary rate. Though, the smartphone apps are not solely to mark Ramadan. For believers, there are Islamic apps that help its users learn accurate Arabic pronunciations of a daily prayer, locate the nearest restaurant offering Halal foods or pinpoint qiblah, the direction that Muslims face when engaged in prayer — all on a smartphone.
Similarly, smartphone apps exist to enable believers of every religious stripe to read holy book verses, receive prayer reminders or locate the precise direction of prayer. Gilani says their suite of smartphone apps is available in at least 14 languages, including English, Urdu and Farsi. Yet for all his enthusiasm, Gilani acknowledges limiting factors still exist. He recalls the early years of the app development and worry over preserving the sanctity of Islam.
CBC – April 18, 2012
In 2011, while Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs publicly insisted it was trying to aid a Canadian held for more than two years by the Taliban, it was privately telling the RCMP to stop investigating the crime. Beverley Giesbrecht, a former businesswoman from Vancouver, was abducted in November 2008 while working as a fixer and journalist in Pakistan after she converted to Islam and adopted the name Khadija Abdul Qahaar.
In May 2011, the Department of Foreign Affairs revealed to CBC News that it believed Giesbrecht had died in captivity sometime in 2010, but a spokesperson added that it was continuing “to pursue all appropriate channels” to determine what happened. Documents obtained by CBC News through an access to information request, however, show that months earlier the department not only believed Giesbrecht was dead, but had told the RCMP it didn’t need to investigate.
Foreign Affairs would not explain why it asked the RCMP to end its investigation. After this story was published, department spokeswoman Aliya Mawani issued a written statement that, “as a matter of policy, DFAIT does not, and cannot, instruct the RCMP on any operational or investigative matter,” adding that, “only the RCMP can make a decision to terminate an investigation.”
Toronto.com – March 24, 2012
Before Little Mosque on the Prairie premiered on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in 2007, there were strategic meetings to discuss marketing and promotion. Confusion about how to promote the show was soon eclipsed by unhinged fears about what might happen after it aired. It is now in more than 80 foreign markets, including Algeria, Australia, Belgium, Finland, France, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, South Africa and Spain.
The show premiered on January 9, 2007. Soon after, jitters over any mass protest — every media outlet from CNN to the New York Times dispatched reporters to do advance stories — vanished inside the fictional town of Mercy, Sask. Little Mosque was a lighthearted comedy. The first episode, like every one that would follow, was neither inflammatory nor uproarious. Unlike some American dramas that arrived after 9/11 — The Unit, Threat Matrix, E-Ring, Sleeper Cell, and most conspicuously, Fox’s 24 — the characters in Mercy were mercifully benign. They were just struggling to get through the day. They were, in a word, “normal.”
Minoo Derayeh, a professor in the department of humanities at York University, uses Little Mosque in class to draw attention to social issues inside modern-day Islam. Ozlem Sensoy, an associate professor at Simon Fraser University, says The Cosby Show arrived during the Reagan era, during a time when heated rhetoric about brutish young black men and a dangerous ghetto culture was widespread. “I think Little Mosque on the Prairie has a similar place. It also grew out of a particular social moment, 9/11, and had these pedagogical goals — teaching white folks about a different kind of Muslim person in the context in which Muslim men had become the new brute, the new group to be feared.”
Minelle Mahtani, a professor in the department of geography and program in journalism at the University of Toronto, has mixed feelings about Little Mosque. “The show has gone a long way in helping Western audiences see beyond the tired stereotype of Muslims as barbaric, exotic, dangerous and primitive,” she says. “But I think we have to be really careful about the ways we commodify Muslim identity through popular representations. Whose Muslim voice is showcased here?”
“I think it was a terrible comedy,” says broadcaster and author Tarek Fatah. “And I think it survived purely because of what I call ‘white man’s guilt.’ If this were any other group of people, it would have been shut down in a month. Most people watched it with the fear that if they didn’t laugh, they’d be considered racist. It was a massive fraud.”
In 2007, Little Mosque received an award from the Search for Common Ground, a human rights organization that had previously bestowed honours on Desmond Tutu and Jimmy Carter. That same year, the show was snubbed for a best comedy Gemini.
CBC – January 20, 2012
Lyrical Militant aka Omar Zulfi is launching his first commercial album Prelude to Revolution in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Zulfi was born and raised in Thompson. His parents immigrated to Canada from Pakistan. This article features an interview with the artist about the acceptability of Muslim in Islam, about what his parents think about his rapping, about his sources of inspiration and how a portion of the sales of his album will be donated to the Canadian Cancer Society.
The Toronto Star – January 6, 2012
When Little Mosque on the Prairie starts its sixth (and final) season this week on the CBC (Canadian Broadcast Corporation), it will close the most important chapter to date in the rapidly rising career of its leading man, Zaib Shaikh.
The 37-year-old Pakistani-Canadian actor, director and producer has spoken at Harvard University, is starring in the forthcoming adaptation of Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children and is busy with his own production company, Governor Films. He’s also attracted a certain amount of gossip for his marriage to CBC’s Head of English Language Services, Kirstine Stewart.
CBC News – September 6, 2011
Prime Minister Stephen Harper has said the biggest security threat to Canada a decade after 9/11 is Islamic terrorism. Harper added that Canada is safer than it was on Sept. 11, 2001, when al-Qaeda attacked the U.S., but that “the major threat is still Islamicism.”
The prime minister said home-grown Islamic radicals in Canada are “also something that we keep an eye on.” Harper said his government will bring back anti-terrorism clauses that were brought in in 2001 but were sunset in 2007 amid heated political debate. “We think those measures are necessary. We think they’ve been useful,” he said. “And as you know … they’re applied rarely, but there are times where they’re needed.”
June 24, 2011
Earlier this month, Jonathan Kay attended a Parliament Hill conference in Ottawa entitled “Terrorism in Canada: Threats, Vulnerabilities and Strategies,” put on by the Washington-based Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), featuring prominent terrorism experts from both sides of the border.
In the Canadian context, David Harris, the former chief of strategic planning for the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, expressed doubt about whether even limited forms of community “outreach” were viable, given that governments generally have trouble distinguishing radicals from moderates. Naheed Mustafa, a CBC Radio producer and author with extensive knowledge of issues affecting the Canadian Muslim community, also critiqued the current approach – albeit from a different perspective. As she sees it, the constant focus on fixing Islam helps reinforce the incorrect idea “that religiosity is necessary and sufficient to create terrorism.”