The Toronto Star – July 12, 2012
A Canadian woman at the centre of Somalia’s Al Qaeda is known among the intelligence agencies that track her and the foreign militants who praise her simply as “Mama Shabab.” It is an honorific title for former Toronto resident Fadumo Jama, who intelligence agencies allege is the den mother of al Shabab who runs a safe house for Western fighters recruited into the militant Islamic organization.
While she moves frequently, using forged passports from African countries, it is believed she has operated a home in the Somali town of Merca for at least four years and has supported American and European recruits in the weeks before their suicide bombing missions. Jama is a well-known figure to intelligence agencies in the U.S., Canada, the U.K. and Somalia, yet her name does not appear in any public documents and she has not been charged. Her role facilitating Western recruits exemplifies the increasing importance of women to the Shabab — although her position of authority is rare, as most females are recruited only as wives for the fighters or suicide bombers. Canadian Security Intelligence Service director Richard Fadden told a Senate committee earlier this year that this was an emerging trend.
Two young Toronto women raised in Canada after their parents fled Somalia when the government collapsed two decades ago were among those reportedly lured into the group last year, defying their families and flying to Kenya’s capital before crossing the border.
News Agencies – June 15, 2012
Students at the University of Toronto have set a goal of raising $70,000 by September to fund a year-long contract for the first-ever full-time Muslim chaplain on a Canadian campus. In a video on the campaign website various young people make the case for donations. “I had to sit in class and listen to my professor tell me Islam degrades women,” says one young woman. “In my field, relationships are built at the bar. What am I supposed to do about that?,” says a young man. “There’s something about mosques that makes me uncomfortable,” says another man.
Muslim Chaplains provide spiritual guidance at dozens of universities in the United States. Unlike Imams, chaplains may be women. The chaplain’s role includes spiritual guidance for students and interfaith work too. Richard Chambers, director of the Multi-Faith Centre at the University of Toronto told the Toronto Star that a Muslim Chaplaincy could help fix an “imbalance” created by the fact that Jewish and Christian campus groups have full-time staff, while Muslim groups currently rely on volunteers.
Toronto Star – May 17, 2012
A charity that normally deals with international disasters is answering the call of a Toronto Food Bank. Islamic Relief Canada has launched a campaign that will match dollar for a dollar any donations to help the Flemingdon Community Food Bank pay off the $30,000 it owes in rent.
Last week, the food bank — which serves 3,800 families in the high-needs area of Flemingdon Park — launched an urgent appeal to help it raise the money needed and save it from shutting its doors. Over the past three years, the rent of the food bank has increased from $22,600/year to $31,200, said Abdul Hai Patel, the acting chair and treasurer of the food bank. That is in addition to monthly costs of $3,100 for expenses, delivery, pest control and supplies, he said.
The Toronto Star – May 4, 2012
When Al Qaeda contemplated the 10th anniversary of Sept. 11, the organization didn’t forget to include Canada in its plans. Al Qaeda spokesman Adam Gadahn mused the organization should reach out to a group of 30 to 50 select journalists and writers who would be candidates to receive “special media material” on the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
It was important, Gadahn stressed to Osama bin Laden and others in January 2011, that Al Qaeda not rely on Jihadi Internet forums, which he said were “repulsive to most of the Muslims,” or Al Jazeera. Instead, Gadahn wrote the group should target journalists in seven countries — the U.K., U.S. and Canada in the west, as well as Pakistan, Egypt, Jordan and Yemen. Among the journalists Gadahn favoured were Eric Margolis, a longtime columnist with the Toronto Sun, and Canadian author Gwynne Dyer, a syndicated columnist based in London.
The Toronto Star – April 25, 2012
Mohamad Fakih built Paramount Butcher Shop for his wife Hanan after she complained about the state of halal meat counters and asked him to do something about it. Driven by the urge to unite “halal” and “gourmet,” Mohamad Fakih built himself a beautiful butcher shop in Mississauga. Mohamad visited non-halal competitors, including Pusateri’s Fine Foods, Cumbrae’s, Olliffe and the Healthy Butcher in Toronto, and researched fine butcher shops in London, Paris and Australia before designing his own 3,400-square-foot shop.
He bought the struggling Paramount chain in 2007 and transformed it into a vibrant and growing empire that employs 250 people, many of them young and non-Muslim. The Middle Eastern/Mediterranean restaurants showcase freshly grilled foods and breads.
For Mohamad, halal is about more than just slaughter. It’s about being conscientious about how animals are raised, a philosophy that dovetails nicely with the local food movement and the fact that consumers are asking more questions about what they eat. Mohamad has lived in Canada for 13 years and got his start at Tim Hortons.
The Toronto Star – April 4, 2012
Two ads that have drawn public complaints because of their religious messages will continue to run on the TTC. One ad for the Walk-in Islamic Info-centre has offended some because it states, “There is no god but Allah.” The other is a bus stop ad that counsels prayer as the answer to a child’s abusive domestic circumstance.
“There is nothing that violates any of our policies, and we do have policies around our advertising (based on) the Ontario Human Rights Code, not promoting hate or violence,” said TTC spokesman Brad Ross. “You don’t have to agree with the message, you don’t have to like the message of the advertiser. Our suggestion would be that if somebody takes issue with the ad they take it up with the advertiser,” he said.
The Toronto Star – March 3, 2012
The 79 families who make up the Canadian Sufi Cultural Centre in Toronto are raising money to feed a village in Burkina Faso. As famine sweeps the semi-arid countries of West Africa — on the heels of last year’s devastating famine in Somalia — the Toronto Sufi families have paired with Irim, a village of 2,000 in Burkina Faso, a tiny, landlocked country of 17 million sandwiched between Ghana and Mali. They’ve vowed to feed them through the next six months.
Mark Schemeit is among those who are helping Yacouba Sawadogo and his extended family. The Canadian and the African met as teens through Canada World Youth — a federal international exchange — in 1995. Sawadogo came to Canada while Schemeit went to Burkina Faso and, later, occasionally sent money, though as a student he didn’t have a lot to give.
The Toronto Star – January 6, 2012
When Little Mosque on the Prairie starts its sixth (and final) season this week on the CBC (Canadian Broadcast Corporation), it will close the most important chapter to date in the rapidly rising career of its leading man, Zaib Shaikh.
The 37-year-old Pakistani-Canadian actor, director and producer has spoken at Harvard University, is starring in the forthcoming adaptation of Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children and is busy with his own production company, Governor Films. He’s also attracted a certain amount of gossip for his marriage to CBC’s Head of English Language Services, Kirstine Stewart.
Toronto Star – December 1, 2011
Islam does not condone domestic violence. The Qur’an does not sanction the idea of honour killings. This is the loud and clear message from almost 60 prominent Muslim organizations, dozens of community leaders and activists from all over Canada, and a sermon that will be delivered from mosque pulpits next Friday even as the high-profile Shafia trial continues in Kingston.
“This is a call to action within the Muslim community,” said Samira Kanji, CEO of Noor Cultural Centre in Toronto. “We want to make sure that no one can cite Islam as validation over horrific crimes or rights over anyone else.” It’s the first time since the London bombings in July 2005 that this many community leaders and organizations have come together in Canada to issue a statement and tackle a problem head-on.
Domestic violence is a huge problem everywhere and the Muslim community has its share, she said. “But it’s important to tell people that Islam doesn’t sanction it.”
Toronto Star – November 21, 2011
This opinion piece by Payam Akhavan, Professor of International Law at McGill University, a former UN war crimes prosecutor, and founder of the Iran Human Rights Documentation Centre suggests that Canada is the haven of choice for the Islamic Republic’s inner circle.
He says it is ironic that while Ahmadinejad condemns “western imperialism,” his inner circle has quietly established itself in Canada to enjoy ill-gotten fortunes with impunity. A recent example is the former head of Iran’s Melli and Sepah Banks, Mahmoud Reza Khavari, who acquired Canadian citizenship under questionable circumstances and then fled this October to his multi-million-dollar Toronto mansion following a $2.6 billion embezzlement scandal in Iran. Akhavan suggests that their presence may benefit the economy, but is clearly a security threat.