News Agencies – December 27, 2011
Over 20,000 people showed up at Toronto’s Metro Convention Centre for the Reviving the Islamic Spirit Convention to listen to leading Muslim scholars, personalities and artists. Ticket sales to the convention were closed on Saturday evening as the facilities reached its capacity. Overflow rooms with TV screens were set up to handle the large crowd that showed up for the annual gathering, which was celebrating its 10th anniversary.
Organized by a group of young, active Canadian Muslims, the three-day convention opened on Friday, December 23. The theme of the convention, “Control, Chaos or Community: Three Ways, One World, Our Choice”, was chosen to address the many challenges plaguing humanity today beyond the confines of cultural, religious or intellectual divides, according to the organizers.
Leading among attendees were prominent scholar Dr Jamal Badawi and Sheikh Abdallah Idris from Canada, Prof. Tariq Ramadan from Switzerland and Dr. John Esposito from the United States. Also attending were Sheikh Abdallah Bin Bayyah from Mauritania, Habib Ali Al-Jifri from Yemen and Dr. Tawfique Chowdhury from Australia.
Toronto Star – August 30, 2011
The debate over Muslim prayers at a Toronto school wove its way into Eid al-Fitr celebrations on at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. Speaking to a crowd of more than 10,000 gathered, Jamal Badawi, a prominent author on Islam, called attempts to stop the Friday prayers at Valley Park Middle School a form of “secular fundamentalism.” Critics, including several religious groups, have condemned the school for allowing an imam to conduct prayer services for Muslim students in the cafeteria.
The festival, which includes carnival rides and a bazaar, has been organized by the Muslim Association of Canada for 26 years. Premier Dalton McGuinty made a brief appearance, thanking the attendees for their contributions to the province’s economy and culture. Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath also addressed the crowd.
The National Post – October 22, 2010
Organizers of an upcoming talk by conservative writer Mark Steyn planned for London, Ont., say they were muzzled by a local city-owned convention centre. A trio of bloggers who run the site StrictlyRight.com inquired about booking a Nov. 1 speech for Mr. Steyn at the London Convention Centre. The group announced that it had received a phone call from the centre saying it would not be allowed to make the booking. The Convention Centre said it was a business decision, but organizers of the speech said they were told otherwise.
“The reason offered by the LCC was that they had received pressure from local Islamic groups, and they didn’t want to alienate their Muslim clients. It’s interesting to note that the LCC is owned by the City of London, and is therefore a government operation,” wrote Strictly Right’s Andrew Lawton at the website.
Mr. Steyn’s talk will explore his familiar themes of Muslims and free speech. London Convention Centre general manager Lori Da Silva said denying next month’s Mark Steyn speech was a “business decision” in part due to concerns for security, and fairness for the centre’s other clients who might not enjoy a “rowdy” crowd at the same time. Asked if the content of Mr. Steyn’s work had anything to do with the Convention Centre’s decision, general manager replied, “No, we’re looking at the security risk.” Mr. Steyn’s best-seller, America Alone: The End of the World As We Know It, warns of potential threats from growing Muslim minorities to Western liberal democracy. Strictly Right have since relocated the talk to London’s 1,600-seat Centennial Hall.
An Indian Muslim televangelist who was banned from Britain for “unacceptable behavior” will not be allowed into Canada to speak at an upcoming conference in Toronto. Dr. Zakir Naik, who has said “every Muslim should be a terrorist” and that Jews are “our staunchest enemy,” was to headline next month’s Journey of Faith Conference — which is billed as one of North America’s largest Islamic conferences and is expected to attract upward of 10,000 people.
The 44-year-old medical doctor recommends capital punishment for homosexuals and the death penalty for those who abandon Islam as their faith. He has said that a man is within his right to beat his wife “lightly,” although in a July 2009 YouTube video he cautioned against hitting her on the face or leaving a mark. The “Keep Zakir Naik Out of Canada” Facebook group, which was launched over the weekend, also points out his view that Western women make themselves “more susceptible to rape” by wearing revealing clothing.
According to the Journey of Faith event website, the “hope” of the July 2-4 2010 conference at the downtown Metro Toronto Convention Centre is for Muslims to “renew their forgotten relationship” with the Koran.
Approximately 17,000 Muslims came to Metro Toronto’s Convention Centre over three days to learn about their religion and being a Muslim in a modern world. They heard from Islamic scholars, prayed, visited with family and friends and shopped in a bazaar that offered up a variety of wares, including hand-embroidered shawls, books, T-shirts, hijabs for both women and children, jewellery and hijab pins. It will feature Yusuf Islam, the name Mr. Stevens – one of the best-known folk singers from the 1970s – now goes by.
It was all part of a three-day convention “Reviving the Islamic Spirit,” an annual conference with its roots in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attack. It is designed, organizers say, as a way to help young Muslims understand their faith in a North American context.
At the bazaar, about 150 stalls were open. A prayer area was sectioned off behind the stalls. The message conference organizers wanted participants to take home was that they must find a way to practise their religion in a broader, secular, democratic society.