Quebec monitors lamb sacrifices during Eid

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.

Launch of new Canadian group, Muslims Facing Tomorrow

The National Post – September 11, 2012

 

A Muslim Canadian activist has founded a new group that will promote moderate Islam, saying there are too few progressive Muslim voices countering extremism in Canada. Raheel Raza, the Pakistan-born author of Their Jihad, Not My Jihad: A Muslim Canadian Woman Speaks Out, was once a member of the progressive Muslim Canadian Congress, but this month is formally launching Muslims Facing Tomorrow. Ms. Raza notes that, “The moderate Muslim voice is very few in number and we felt that the more organizations out there doing this kind of work, the better. We have a very similar mandate to the MCC [Muslim Canadian Congress], and our goal is the same, but we at Muslims Facing Tomorrow plan to go about it in a different way.”

Raza added, “We want to provide an alternative for Muslim youth. It’s not just a question of slamming the extremists; it’s also about providing a different voice. We want to hold workshops and conferences — one thing that’s never been done, as far as I know, is a conference of moderate Muslims in Canada.

Debate about the acceptability of Islamic finance in Canada

Macleans – January 16, 2012

Canada, with its 1.3 million Muslims, has lagged behind countries like the U.K. and the U.S. in embracing sharia-compliant financial products. None of the country’s big banks currently offer sharia-compliant services, though some smaller players do. Toronto-based UM Financial Inc., which issued home mortgages conforming to Islamic law, filed for bankruptcy last year, leaving 170 Muslim borrowers in limbo. Is the firm’s failure evidence that Canada should steer clear of Islamic finance; or proof that the country needs more of it–i.e. that the banks and policymakers need to bring the practice into the mainstream, with tighter rules and better oversight? This article features a debate with Tarek Fatah is the founder of the Muslim Canadian Congress, and Walid Hejazi is associate professor of international business at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management, where he is currently teaching an MBA course on Islamic finance.

Farzana Hassan responds to niqab controversy in Canada

The Toronto Star – December 17, 2010

In Quebec in March 2010, provincial premier Jean Charest initiated legislation that would ban the niqab in public. Ontario’s Court of Appeal, meanwhile, said that the niqab must be removed in a court of law if the accused’s right to a fair trial requires it.

Farzana Hassan, a scholar and activist from Pakistan and the former president of the Muslim Canadian Congress, advocates a ban on the burqa and niqab, both of which obscure all of a woman’s face and head except her eyes. Hassan says the Qur’an does not demand adherence to these garments, and that even though some women say they “choose” to wear them, both represent a form of intolerable subjugation.

“The burqa is steeped in patriarchy,” says Hassan. “It is not a legitimate choice.”

Critics Dismiss Canadian Imans’ Declaration of Values

The National Post – August 13, 2010
A declaration of fundamental Islamic values recently released by the Canadian Council of Imams and signed by more than 50 Muslim religious leaders is “completely meaningless” and a result of a “medieval mindset,” says the founder of the Muslim Canadian Congress. The council’s declaration is a series of seven points posted on its website and distributed to mosque leaders across Canada. Its signatories seek to affirm common Islamic values — including the belief in peaceful coexistence, the need for Muslims to engage in civic life and the assertion that Islam doesn’t permit the killing of innocent people “regardless of their creed, ethnicity, race, or nationality.”
For Tarek Fatah of the MCC, however, the declaration is a “lost opportunity.” It doesn’t include a strong affirmation of the separation of mosque and state or that the mosque is no place for political activity; it doesn’t demand that women be allowed to sit in the front row of mosques or be allowed to become imams; and most importantly, the declaration doesn’t denounce the theory of armed jihad, Mr. Fatah said.
Imam Habeeb Alli, secretary of the Canadian Council of Imams, said the goal of the declaration was to educate the Canadian public on the common values of Muslim religious leaders. It was also a proactive way, he said, to address questions from journalists about the beliefs of Canadian imams.

Veils spark courtroom clothing debate in Ontario, Canada

The issue of whether the courts or Parliament should decide if a Muslim woman can wear a veil while testifying was at the centre of arguments on the first day of a potentially landmark hearing at the Ontario Court of Appeal. The court must determine whether a 32-year-old Toronto woman, who is accusing her uncle and cousin of sexually abusing her while she was a child, can testify against them while wearing a niqab.

A wide range of suggestions was put forward by lawyers representing the woman, the defendants, the province and five interest groups. The three-judge panel appeared reluctant to turn the case into a referendum on the use of the niqab in Canadian society and other social issues. It will likely be several weeks before the court issues its ruling.

When a lawyer for the Muslim Canadian Congress, which is opposed to women wearing the niqab, noted that the complete outfit restricts the ability of a lawyer in court to see not only her face, but the body language of a witness, the panel interjected. In its argument, the Ontario government urged the court to avoid imposing any general rules. Instead, a “legal framework” should be created that would be applied in individual cases. Under the suggestions put forward by the province, it would likely be more difficult for a witness to wear a veil at the actual trial, because of the impact on the defendant’s right to a fair trial.

Canadian Sheema Khan responds to possible French burqa ban

Following last month’s call by the Muslim Canadian Congress to ban the face-covering niqab, or buraa, about 30 Muslim groups across Canada denounced the proposal. Their basis: The state has no business dictating what a woman should wear, nor infringing on individual freedoms. Sheema Khan acknowledges, however, how legalities aside, many Canadians feel uncomfortable seeing the face-veil here. It represents a physical barrier, which has no precedent in our culture. It has also become a misogynous icon, due to the Taliban, and Saudi “religious” police. Security is an added concern. Finally, many assume veiled women are coerced into wearing “that thing.”

Yet, Khan highlights that the intentions of these women are diverse. For some, it is an act of faith to get closer to God. Some incur the disapproval of family, friends and community for taking this step; others are forced to do so by family members. Youthful defiance may play a role. As for security, veiled women readily comply with identification protocols when required.

Ban Against niqab and burqa rejected by Canadian conservative government

The federal government has turned down the proposal of a Toronto-based Islamic organization to introduce legislation prohibiting Canadian female individuals from wearing niqabs and burqas.

The Muslim Canadian Congress had called upon the Stephen Harper’s Conservative government to ban the wearing of niqabs and burqas in all public dealings by introducing new laws.

Studying all the aspects, the Conservative government last week refused to consider the proposal, contending “in Canada people are free to make their own decisions”. “In an open and democratic society like Canada, individuals are free to make their own decisions regarding their personal apparel and to adhere to their own customs or traditions of their faith or beliefs,” said a statement issued by the office of Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Key Words –

Muslim Canadian Congress calls for Canadian ban of niqab and burqa

A Canadian Muslim group is calling on the Canadian government to ban the wearing of the burqa in public, saying the argument that the right to wear it is protected by the Charter’s guarantee of freedom of religion is false.

The Muslim Canadian Congress called on the federal government to prohibit the two garments in order to prevent women from covering their faces in public – a practice the group said has no place in a society that supports gender equality.

“To cover your face is to conceal your identity,” Congress spokeswoman Farzana Hassan said.

Mohamed Elmasry, former president of the Canadian Islamic Congress, disputed suggestions that the garments pose a security threat, saying only a minority of Muslim women living in Canada feel the need to conceal their features in public. Elmasry stated that women should have the freedom to decide whether they wish to cover their faces, and that a ban would limit freedom of expression.

Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister continues public battle with the Canadian Arab Federation; Muslim Canadian Congress founder responds

Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney claims he is reshaping Canada’s approach to immigration and multiculturalism. Kenney claims: “We want to avoid the kind of ethnic enclaves or parallel communities that exist in some European countries. So far, we’ve been pretty successful at that, but I think it’s going to require greater effort in the future to make sure that we have . . . social cohesion rather than fracturing.” Tarek Fatah, founder of the Muslim Canadian Congress applauds Kenney’s efforts. “He’s standing up for Canadian values. I would like every politician to stand up for this country the way Jason Kenney has.”

Kenney has recently, among other recent controversies, criticized Muslim-led attempts to censor Canadian writers through human rights commissions, and slamming certain groups that would stoke Middle East enmities, leading to accusations in Arab communities, and in some corners of the media, that the Minister has abandoned an unprejudiced approach and made Canada a stooge for the so-called Israel lobby: The CAF called him a “professional whore;” the Toronto Star a “professional fool”.