Ottawa’s Muslim call to prayer? It’s an app

Ottawa’s Muslim community, which comprised 3.9 per cent of the city’s population in the 2006 census, is out of luck if they’re listening for a public daily reminder. There is only one mosque in Ottawa with a minaret capable of performing the call, though it has never been used to do so, says Mohamed Ghadban, the president of the Ottawa Muslim Association.

Without a public call to prayer, many Muslims rely on technology to keep track of changing prayer times. “When there weren’t digital watches, no atomic clocks, and all these ways to tell time, people needed to hear something, or people needed to tell each other what time to pray,” said Amira Elmi. “I usually just Google the time.”

Mahfoudhi said he uses his smart phone for accurate prayer times. “We’ve gotten around the restriction of not being allowed to do it publicly, and we actually have a little app,” said Mahfoudhi.

12th annual Summer Muslim Festival takes place in Ottawa

News Agencies – July 14, 2012


The annual Canadian Muslim Festival was held in Ottawa with the participation of over 20 Muslim countries. The event which celebrates the culture and traditions of the Muslim world, included country exhibitions, Islamic arts and handicrafts, a bazaar as well as fun activities for children.  The festival, which is held annually by the Muslim Association of Canada, aims to introduce Islamic culture and civilization to the local community.


The one-day event provided each participating country with a tent to present the arts and culture of that nation. The result was a display of the tremendous diversity of the Islamic world. This annual festival provides a great opportunity to introduce Islamic culture to Canadians.


Muslim cemeteries opening in Canada

The Globe and Mail – June 21, 2012

After years of planning and work, developers in two cities are set to meet a burgeoning need by opening two cemeteries – the Toronto Muslim Cemetery and the Ottawa Muslim Cemetery. While there are currently five Muslim cemeteries in Ontario, as well as a few others scattered across the country, the new additions are the first to cater to Muslims in Canada’s largest city and its capital. According to the Pew Research Center, the number of Muslims in Canada is expected to almost triple over the next 20 years, from about 940,000 in 2010 to nearly 2.7-million in 2030.

Work on the Ottawa Muslim Cemetery began in the early 1990s when Abu Nazir, now the president of the group behind the project, started talking with the community about the need. Until that point, most of the Muslim community had been focused on establishing itself by building mosques and schools, he said.

The Toronto Muslim Cemetery, located just north of the city in Richmond Hill, is bigger than its Ottawa counterpart – a $10-million partnership between the area’s Sunni and Shia communities with a capacity of about 40,000 graves. Close to 5,000 plots have been pre-sold, according to Sabi Ahsan, a local developer and chairman of the cemetery’s board.

Canadian Muslims urged to boost security with beginning of Ramadan

News Agencies – July 30, 2011

A week after a massacre in Norway fuelled by anti-Islamic sentiment claimed the lives of 77 people, Muslims preparing for Ramadan across Canada are being urged to install surveillance cameras and bars on mosque windows, and to talk to police and school principals about emergency plans should an “incident” arise. The Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations, based in Ottawa, is calling for these and other measures as part of its “Muslim Community Safety Kit” sent out to Muslim associations across the country this week.

There have been reports of mosques being vandalized and other incidents in Montreal, Vancouver, Calgary, Ottawa, Waterloo – some following the 9/11 attacks, others after the uproar over a cartoon depicting Mohammed in a Danish newspaper in 2005, and more recently around the well-publicized burning of a Quran in Florida. According to a Statistics Canada report released in June, the number of hate crimes increased by 42 per cent from 2008 to 2009, the last year for which statistics are available.

Mosques here have been taking safety precautions for years, said Salam Elmenyawi, president of the Muslim Council of Montreal. But along with locking doors and trimming shrubs around buildings to stop culprits from hiding out in them, Montreal mosques have also been opening their doors to the non-Muslims.

Study Shows that Muslim Immigrants in Canada face some discrimination

The National Post – May 28, 2011

Peter Beyer, a professor of Religious Studies at the University of Ottawa, has conducted a study to gather insights from about 350 second-generation Canadians aged 18 to 30 through 36 focus groups in Sydney, N.S., Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Edmonton and Vancouver. Muslim young adults attributed the discrimination they felt to racial or cultural prejudices rather than religious issues, saying they felt they could follow their faith unfettered in Canada. “They feel that they’re perfectly free to practise Islam here in Canada, unlike some of the Christians who feel that their ability to practise their religion is restricted in this country,” Prof. Beyer said. “But they did feel Islamophobia.”

Second-generation Canadians are both optimistic and critical of the concept of multiculturalism in Canada, he said. They believe integrating and learning from each other could be a hugely positive experience that too often turns into immigrant communities living in “silos” side by side -and they blame their immigrant parents, not the rest of society, for that.

Canadian National Arts Centre questions Geert Wilders event

News Agencies – May 10, 2011

The federally-funded National Arts Centre was surprised to learn it was hosting a talk by a Dutch politician facing charges of inciting hatred for making anti-Islamic statements in his own country. Geert Wilders, who is taking part in a cross-Canada speaking tour hosted by the International Free Press Society and the Canada Christian College, is infamous for his descriptions of Islam as a fascist religion, his declaration that Muslim youth are violent and his calls for a ban of the Koran.

Mr. Wilders, the leader of Holland’s Freedom Party, spoke to about 150 people at the invitation-only event at the National Arts Centre along with Sun News Network host Ezra Levant and two other speakers. The Toronto speech was held at the Canada Christian College, a private institution. The Ottawa speech was held at the Arts Centre, which receives nearly half of its funding from the federal government.
NAC spokeswoman Rosemary Thompson said that the International Free Press Society called the catering department about a month ago and said that they had a Dutch MP coming to Canada for a speaking tour and that it was part of the Tulip Festival. The Canadian Tulip Festival – an annual event in Ottawa – had nothing to do with the event involving Mr. Wilders.

Man in Muslim woman’s garb robs Ottawa bank

A man used a Muslim woman’s religious garment as a disguise to rob a bank in an Ottawa strip mall police say. Sgt. Mark Myers said the man was wearing a blue robe and a head scarf concealing his mouth and nose when he passed a note demanding money to a bank teller at a Scotiabank branch in the city’s west end.

After the teller handed over an undisclosed amount of cash, the suspect fled on foot. Three or four customers in the bank at the time were uninjured. Myers said police are confident the suspect is a man because he spoke in a masculine voice at one point during the robbery. Myers said there have been a handful of similar robberies in Ottawa since the summer. He could not say whether police suspect they have been committed by the same person.

No religious favours, Canadian PM says

No religious group should expect special treatment when it comes to enforcement of the law, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said in response to reports that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) had apologized for arresting Muslims on terrorism charges during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.
On Aug. 25, 2010, the RCMP and Ottawa Police arrested two Ottawa men–Hiva Mohammad Alizadeh, Misbahuddin Ahmed — suspected of conspiring with others in Afghanistan and Pakistan to commit terrorism. A third man, Khurram Syed Sher, was picked up in St. Thomas.

The next day, Aug. 26, the RCMP and city police staged a special, hour-long meeting with members of Ottawa’s Muslim community with the ostensible purpose of ensuring them that their community was not regarded with undue suspicion despite the arrests. However, at least one officer was heard apologizing during the meeting for the arrests having occurred during Ramadan, which ran last year from Aug. 12 to Sept. 9.

Prominent members of the Muslim Canadian Congress applauded the Prime Minister’s remarks, saying it is about time that senior government officials emphasized the unitary nature of Canadian law, and that religious sentiment cannot be allowed to interfere with the law.

Salma Siddiqui, vice-president of the Congress. “We have one law in Canada and it applies to everybody. We need to stop all this political correctness.” “At the meeting I commented, ‘Would you apologize to other Canadians if you arrested someone on Christmas?'”

Ismaili Leader Aga Khan Celebrates Canadian Pluralism

The Toronto Star – October 15, 2010

In a world where technology and human migration push people of differing backgrounds increasingly “in each other’s face,” spiritual leader the Aga Khan hailed Canada as a country that has got pluralism right.The religious leader — imam — of the world’s 14 million Shia Ismaili Muslims praised this country for allowing citizens to keep their identity as they become Canadian.“What the Canadian experience suggests to me is that honouring one’s own identity need not mean rejecting others,” he said Friday in the keynote address to the Institute for Canadian Citizenship’s prestigious annual LaFontaine-Baldwin Symposium.

The concept of people of different backgrounds living in harmony is the focus of a think tank he is creating in Ottawa in a building once home to the Canadian War Museum. In Toronto, he also announced earlier this year he will build a new Ismaili Centre and Aga Khan Museum and Gardens at Eglinton Ave. and Wynford Dr. Both centres – in Toronto and Ottawa – reflect the ties the Aga Khan said he has felt with Canada for nearly 40 years, since this country welcomed thousands of Asian refugees from Uganda, including many Ismailis.

Passengers Must show “Entire Face” under tougher Canadian Air Security Rules

The Globe and Mail – September 17, 2010
The Canadian Harper government has quietly tightened air security rules to make it absolutely clear that airlines must check a passenger’s “entire face” before they board a plane. The measure stems from an early August 2010 controversy in which a video released on YouTube showed two Muslim women, their faces covered, boarding an Air Canada flight out of Montreal.
At the time, then-Transport Minister John Baird insisted that airlines were already obligated under “identity screening regulations” to verify the identity of all passengers before they are allowed to board. The new measure, enacted by recently appointed Transport Minister Chuck Strahl, has been issued because Ottawa discovered the existing rules were not detailed enough.