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.

Canadian Irshad Manji book tour in Indonesia runs into trouble

News Agencies –  May 10, 2012

 

Police crackdowns and attacks by religious extremists have attempted to derail the book tour of famed Muslim Canadian author Irshad Manji through Indonesia, a country she previously described as a symbol of “meaningful moderation in Islam.” “Four years ago, I came to Indonesia and experienced a nation of tolerance, openness and pluralism,” said Ms. Manji. “Things have changed.”

Raised in Vancouver, Ms. Manji rose to prominence as an advocate for progressive Islam with her 2003 book The Trouble With Islam Today. Most controversially to many of her religious critics, she is openly lesbian. Ms. Manji was in the South Asian country to promote the Indonesian release of Allah, Liberty and Love. Amid laying out a blueprint for Muslim reformation modelled on the U.S. civil rights movement, the book singles out Indonesia as a model Muslim society.

Canadian Muslim family endures U.S. border nightmare

News Agencies – February 25, 2012

It was supposed to be a cross-border shopping trip to New York State to break the monotony of a Quebec winter – a Montreal soccer dad, his wife, their adult son and their two youngest children packed in a car, headed toward Plattsburgh. But when the Benaouda family got to the U.S. border, their outing turned into a scene from a bad movie – complete with shouting FBI agents, handcuffs, interrogation and six hours of unexplained detention.

More than a decade after 9/11, Muslim Canadian travellers with no proven links to terrorism continue to be targeted when they fly or try to cross into the U.S. Mohamed Benaouda, a Canadian citizen with Algerian roots who says he has never had any run-ins with the law, was handcuffed, photographed, fingerprinted, held in a cell and interrogated.

Canadian Minister Claims Wide Support for country’s ‘burqa ban’

News Agencies  – January 23, 2012

A month after Canada banned Muslim women from covering their faces during citizenship ceremonies, Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney says the policy has won widespread support. Speaking at a Muslim Canadian Congress event honouring his “courageous decision,” Mr. Kenney said polling shows that eight out of 10 Canadians agreed with the decision while only 14% were opposed. He said he would not act on suggestions to hold separate citizenship ceremonies for Muslim women who cover their faces in public.

The minister characterized the new rule as part of a broader strategy to strengthen the value of citizenship in Canada, which he said has the highest rate of naturalization of any country in the developed world. While the audience gathered at a Toronto hotel spoke mostly in support of the niqab ban, one woman said she was “extremely offended” by the comments she had heard. “If somebody believes in it [the niqab] then it’s their right to practise it,” said Fatema Dada of the Canadian Muslim Lawyers Association.

Controversy about Islam prayer at Ontario school continues

The Globe and Mail – July 8, 2011

More than two-thirds of the population that surrounds Valley Park, in Toronto’s northeast, have arrived in the past 20 years, primarily from India, Pakistan and more recently Afghanistan – reflecting Canada’s shifting urban demographics. The school draws many of its students from Thorncliffe Park, a one-kilometre horseshoe of apartment buildings packed with 30,000 people – a neighbourhood that is known for having the highest concentration of Muslims in Canada. Now it’s becoming known for something else: It’s at the centre of a growing debate over the place of religion in the public school system.

This week, a complaint about imam-led prayer sessions at the school has made unlikely allies of diverse religious interest groups and secularists, from the Canadian Hindu Advocacy to the Muslim Canadian Congress to the Canadian Secular Alliance.

From November to March, the pupils enter the cafeteria segregated by sex, with boys at the front separated from girls at the back. The imam stands at the front with a microphone and begins with a short lesson in English, usually about the importance of discipline or mutual respect, said a parent volunteer, and then leads a prayer in Arabic. Until a week ago, Valley Park’s three-year policy of accommodating Muslim pupils who wanted to pray during school hours had caused barely a ripple. Then the Canadian Hindu Advocacy complained that it violated a policy banning religious instruction in public schools, which raised a chorus of opposition as well as support.

Former Muslim Canadian Council President Publishes Book about Islam and Anti-Semitism

The Toronto Star – November 19, 2010

“One would expect Muslims to denounce the depiction of their Prophet as a mass murderer,” Fatah writes in The Jew Is Not My Enemy: Unveiling the Myths that Fuel Anti-Semitism (272 pages, McClelland & Stewart , 2010). Fatah calls himself a secular Muslim and ranks as one of Canada’s most fearless critics of Islamism — the ideology that promotes Islam as a political system as well as a religion. Two years ago, he published Chasing a Mirage: The Tragic Illusion of an Islamic State arguing that when Muslims buried the Prophet they also buried many of his values.The problem, the author says, is that Islam lacks a tradition of questioning religious texts.

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.

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.

Father and brother plead guilty in “Honor Killing” in the greater Toronto area

On Dec. 10, 2007, Asqa Parvez’s father called 911 saying he had killed her. When police arrived, they found Ms. Parvez’s mother crying hysterically and her father with blood on his hands.

In a Brampton courtroom last week, Ms. Parvez’s father, Muhammad Parvez, 60, and her brother, Waqas Parvez, 29, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder. They will be sentenced to 25 years in prison. When asked by his wife why he had killed their daughter, Ms. Parvez said her husband told her: “My community will say you have not been able to control your daughter. This is my insult. She is making me naked.”

Observers say the case, among the first so-called honor killings to gain widespread attention in Canada, will cast a spotlight on generational strains that can tear at families adapting to a new culture. Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said it’s a particularly pernicious form of murder to kill a member of one’s own family for cultural reasons.

Muslim Canadian Congress founder Tarek Fatah said the guilty plea is a wake-up call for parents to understand that young women are not the possessions of men. Muslim leaders who do not call Ms. Parvez’s murder an honour killing are avoiding the real issue, Mr. Fatah said.