Speech Ban Exposes Rift in the Canadian Islamic Congress

The National Post – October 15, 2010

Canadian Defence Minister Peter MacKay’s banning of a leading imam from the military’s Islamic History Month event has exposed an executive-level rift in the Canadian Islamic Congress between forces of progress and orthodoxy.

In a letter to the National Post today, CIC president Wahida Valiante openly disavows her reform-minded executive director, Zijad Delic, and rejects his criticisms about the Muslim group’s many public controversies, especially the failed hate speech cases against Maclean’s magazine.

Ms. Valiante writes that Mr. Delic’s plan to “purify” and “Canadianize” the CIC, and his desire to avoid lawsuits in favour of dialogue, “in no way reflect the views of CIC board.” This latest flap illustrates the harsh consequences for a Canadian Muslim leader who does not pledge loyalty to Mohamed Elmasry, the CIC founder and former president to whom Ms. Valiante was a long-time deputy.

Canadian Defence Minister Bans Imam from Appearance at Islamic History Month Event

News Agencies – October 2, 2010

An Ottawa imam who calls himself a bridge builder between Muslims and other Canadians has been barred by the Canadian government from speaking at a Defence Department event on the grounds that his organization has promoted “extremist views.” Zijad Delic, national executive director of the Canadian Islamic Congress, was scheduled to participate in a National Defence headquarters ceremony recognizing Islamic History Month. But Defence Minister Peter MacKay has cancelled the imam’s planned appearance. His office issued a statement saying the Canadian Islamic Congress has a record of fomenting hatred and has no place at an event honouring Muslim contributions to this country.
Mr. Delic has previously been cited for efforts to help Muslims integrate into Canadian society. He was one of 13 Canadians included in a 2009 book, The 500 Most Influential Muslims in the World, penned by Islamic studies scholars at Georgetown University. One of the book’s editors called Mr. Delic “a scholar who writes about how Muslims can integrate into Canadian society.” Mr. MacKay’s office cited incendiary comments that were made in 2004 by a then-president of the Canadian Islamic Congress as the reason for its decision. “The Canadian Islamic Congress has declared that Israelis over the age of 18 are legitimate targets of suicide bombers,” Mr. MacKay’s spokesman Jay Paxton said.
Sohail Raza, president of the Muslim Canadian Congress, said he is happy MacKay cancelled the speech by Imam Zijad Delic.

The Ottawa Citizen Profiles Zijad Delic

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.