Edmonton Ahmadiyya Muslims participate in national educational campaign

News Agencies – October 12, 2012

Local Muslims will go door-to-door in Edmonton and Leduc, Canada as part of a national campaign to educate Canadians about Islam and dispel misconceptions about Muhammad made in an American anti-Muslim video. Members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community are responding to a call from their spiritual leader in England to peacefully protest The Innocence of Muslims, a video that outraged the Muslim world with its depiction of the Islamic prophet after a trailer of the film was posted on YouTube.

Muslims have a right to be angry but violent reaction must be condemned, Hadhrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad said in a statement issued late last month.

The Ahmadiyya community’s last national campaign two years ago was a response to controversial Florida pastor Terry Jones’ threats to burn Qur’ans on the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. About 3,500 young volunteers visited 429,129 houses, reaching out to 1.7 million people in Canada to promote peace, condemn terrorism and violence, and dispel myths about Islam, Rabbani said.

Anti-Islam pastor Terry Jones barred from entering Canada

News Agencies – October 11, 2012

 

A Florida pastor made famous by his strident anti-Islam views and widely publicized Koran immolation was barred entry into Canada because border officials had qualms about legal tussles in his past. Terry Jones was supposed to attend a multifaith debate on the film Innocence of Muslims outside Ontario’s legislature. Mr. Jones and Wayne Sapp, associate director of Stand Up America Now, said they were stopped at the Michigan-Ontario border and searched before being turned away.

At issue is a breach of peace charge against Mr. Sapp that he said was overturned, and a fine Mr. Jones had to pay in Germany for using the title “Doctor” from an unrecognized institution, a complaint Mr. Sapp said was successfully appealed. The debate was to go forward Thursday evening with a substitute in Mr. Jones’s place. Allan Einstoss, one of the debate’s organizers, said the event is meant to be a statement about the importance of freedom of speech. Imam Steve Rockwell of Toronto’s Sheikh Deedat mosque, who was to debate Mr. Jones Thursday, argues that the pastor goes too far.

Mosque in Poitiers France Stormed by Far Right Protesters

News Agencies – October 20, 2012

 

Dozens of far right extremists stormed atop an unfinished mosque in western France to show their hostility toward it and denounce immigration that has brought millions of Muslims into the country, a regional official said. About 70 protesters traveled from around France for the demonstration in the city of Poitiers, which has symbolic meaning as the place where a French medieval ruler once drove away Arab invaders, regional prefect Yves Dassonville said by phone. After police arrived, the protesters dispersed without resistance – and three were detained to face accusations of “incitement of racial hatred” and damage to property, he said.

French TV broadcast images of dozens of rowdy, waving and chanting protesters on the mosque roof next to its minaret. Muslim leaders said the protesters had disrupted a prayer inside, and expressed incomprehension over the stunt.

P.E.I. Muslims refuse to be intimidated

News Agencies – October 8, 2012

 

Zain Esseghaier has been a Charlottetown, Prince Edward Islam resident for the last 33 years, married an islander and raised a family here. Though his modest two-story mosque has been the target of three serious threats over the past year — last week a bottle of gasoline was left at the entrance and the structure plastered with “Defeat Jihad” posters — he remains steadfast, refusing to be intimidated.

Four years ago, the native of Tunisia and his fellow Muslim Society of P.E.I. members set about finally acquiring their own place of worship. A cross-country fundraising campaign raised about $500,000, enough to purchase a plot of land in an industrial park and build Masjid Dar As-Salam mosque. Last October, two days after a community celebration to mark the official groundbreaking at the site, a pig’s head was left nailed to a post on the property. Just over a month ago, a contractor’s truck parked near the mosque overnight was set ablaze.

In all, P.E.I. boasts roughly 500 Muslim residents, most of whom live in Charlottetown and pray together. Before having their own mosque, they would worship wherever they could find the space, from a temporary basement mosque to gymnasiums to university classrooms. Building the mosque was a way of retaining the province’s Muslim population, said the society’s president Najam Chishti.

Suspect killed in shootout during arrest of suspected jihadist cell in France

News Agencies – October 6, 2012

 

Police carried out raids across France on Saturday after DNA on a grenade that exploded last month at a kosher grocery store led them to a suspected jihadist cell of young Frenchmen recently converted to Islam. The man whose DNA was identified, named by police as Jeremy Sydney, was killed by police after he opened fire on them, slightly wounding three officers in the eastern city of Strasbourg. Officials said he had been under surveillance since last spring, around the time a French Islamic went on a shooting rampage against a Jewish school and French soldiers, killing seven people.

Paris prosecutor François Molins said all the arrested suspects were French and recent converts to Islam. They were all born in the 1980s or early 1990s. Four of the men involved in the raid had written wills.

The prosecutor was careful not to draw direct links between these arrests and Mohamed Merah, a young Frenchman of Algerian descent who died in a shootout with police in March after the killings in the south of France. That attack terrorized the French Jewish community, which has since ramped up security in many parts of the country.

There is no Islam in France, says Marine La Pen

News Agencies – October 8, 2012

 

There is no Islam that belongs to France, far-right National Front (FN) leader Marine Le Pen said in response to comments to the contrary from Interior Minister Manuel Valls. Le Pen said it was clear that the activities of radical Muslims were not being monitored on French soil, adding that all French Muslims that had become victims of Islamism had to accept the country’s secular system and combat radicalism.

Richard Prasquier, president of the Representative Council of Jewish Institutions in France (CRIF), also expressed his concerns about the growth of what he called an increasingly bellicose Islam, calling on the entire national Jewish community to defend itself against radicalization. Police detained 12 people suspected of involvement in radical Islamist activities mainly in Paris, Cannes and Strasbourg in other raids across the country. The Interior Ministry has said the raids will continue.

Imams and other non-Christian chaplains terminated in Canadian jails

News Agencies – October 5, 2012

 

The Canadian federal government has decided to end its contracts nationwide with minority-faith chaplains who had been working part-time in the country’s federal prisons.

Full-time chaplains who remain will be expected to provide spiritual guidance to inmates of all faiths. Finance minister Vic Toews ordered a stop to the tendering of new contracts last month after he announced that he was “not convinced” all chaplaincy services were an appropriate use of taxpayer money.

 

The email cited a memo from Don Head, commissioner of the correctional service, who said the government had decided to move exclusively to a “full-time chaplaincy model with continued reliance on the voluntary support of our community partners.” Renewal options for all part-time contracts “will not be exercised.”

 

According to corrections data, in the last fiscal year, 36 per cent of inmates identified themselves as Catholic, 18 per cent as Protestant, five per cent as Muslim, four per cent as native spiritual, two per cent as Buddhist, one per cent as Jewish and one per cent as Sikh. Twenty percent said they were non-religious, seven per cent said they belonged to “other” religious groups, and six per cent answered “unknown.”

Rapper claims to find serenity in Islam

News Agencies: October 2, 2012

 

Overcoming a history of drug addiction and hallucinations, a French rapper surprised her fans after appearing in a TV interview donning hijab and telling how she found peace and calm in Islam. “(My) conversion to Islam was the result of a personal conviction, after understanding the religion and reading the Holy Qur’an,”

 

Melanie Georgiades, known as Diam’s, said in an interview. The famous rapper has been absent from the mainstream rap scene since 2009, sparking rumors about her whereabouts. Diam’s is known for her political activism in both her lyrics and her public persona. The rapper also criticized the media which photographed her coming out of one of the mosques in France wearing her Hijab and looking at her mobile, preceded by a man in a training suit, which many believed to be her husband.

Al-Shabab suicide bomber urges attacks in Canada

News Agencies – October 31, 2011

The al-Qaeda-linked Al-Shabab released an audiotape it said was a message from a Somali-American suicide bomber who struck an African Union base in Mogadishu this weekend, killing 10. The English-language message specifically called for terrorist attacks in Canada and said it was a duty for Muslims to fight for Islam, urging listeners not to “just sit around and be a couch potato and just chill all day.”

The message appears to be the latest attempt by Al-Shabab to incite Western youths. Canadian authorities are investigating as many as 20 Canadians who are suspected of having joined the Islamist extremist group.

Edmonton imam to keep low profile to end of pilgrimage

News Agencies – October 31, 2011

A Canadian Muslim cleric will have to keep a low profile and stay quiet about being arrested, bruised, bloodied and shackled in a holding cell while he completes a pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia.  Usama Al-Atar, a well-known Edmonton Shia spiritual leader, was arrested after a clash with Saudi religious police who noticed his group performing supplications at the Jannat al-Baqi, the graveyard near the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina.  “I was falsely arrested and held by Saudi authorities for the best part of the previous 36 hours in what can only be described as horrid conditions,” Dr. Al-Atar said in a statement.

The cemetery has long been a place of tension between Shia pilgrims and the religious police, who uphold a strict application of Wahhabist Islam at odds with other Muslim schools of thought. A friend travelling with Dr. Al-Attar said that the Saudi religious police had warned them twice the previous day that they were being too loud. Dr. Al-Atar, a post-doctoral chemistry researcher at the University of Alberta, is familiar to many Shia because he has given lectures around the world. The Edmonton cleric has denounced human-rights violations in Saudi Arabia and in neighbouring Bahrain.

Mahmood Mavani, president of the Islamic Shia Ithna-Asheri Association of Edmonton, a southeast city mosque where Dr. Al-Atar served as an imam, praised the work of the federal government and the local MP, Mike Lake, in pressing for his friend’s release.