Canadian Restaurateur in fight with American Popeyes chain over halal meat

The Toronto Star – November 2, 2011


A group of Muslim restaurant franchisees is fighting fast-food chain Popeyes Louisiana Chicken in court over the right to sell hand-slaughtered Halal meat for religious reasons. The battle in Ontario Superior Court comes after the Atlanta-based franchise moved to replace the chicken supply with machine-killed birds in 14 Toronto restaurants. The company says it’s still Halal-certified; the franchisees claim the machine method is against the beliefs of a majority of Muslims.

Abdul Haffejee, who owns eight Popeyes in the GTA says that between 50 and 80 per cent of his customers are Muslim. For over 25 years, Popeyes sold hand-slaughtered Halal meat in all of its 59 southern Ontario stores, according to court documents. This occurred without major incident until January this year, when the long-time supplier announced it would be getting out of the hand-slaughtered chicken business because it was moving on to larger birds, an industry trend.

Sharia-compliant mortgage lender in receivership

The Toronto Star – October 18, 2011

UM Financial Inc., a Toronto-based firm that offered sharia-compliant mortgages to Muslims, has gone into receivership leaving more than 173 people fearful they may lose their homes. UM Financial was one of the first companies in Canada to offer so-called Islamic financing to Muslims who believe that sharia, or Islamic law, prohibitions against usury include interest on things such as mortgages. UM would buy a property then lease it to a client so they were paying rent instead of interest. Some homeowners complained that the firm would also charge extra fees. The company had $50 million in financial backing from Central 1 Credit Union of which almost $29 million is outstanding.

Muslim Conference Removed from Toronto Hotel

The Toronto Star – October 14, 2011


The Sheraton Centre hotel will not host a Muslim religious conference that was to feature speakers who have expressed anti-gay and anti-Semitic views. The Star informed a Sheraton convention services manager about the speakers. A hotel spokesperson then said it had been “cancelled due to the organization’s failure to satisfy a contractual requirement.”

The conference, which had been scheduled for Oct. 23, was organized by the Islamic Education and Research Academy (IERA), a British organization seeking to establish a Canadian presence. “The aim of the upcoming conference, far from promoting hatred, will focus on getting Muslims to pro-actively engage with the wider society by sharing the true essence of the Islamic faith in both word and deed,” the IERA said. Jewish and gay organizations had criticized the IERA for inviting four speakers who had disparaged gays, Jews and Christians.

Mississauga, Ontario mosque offers free hot meals

Toronto Star – September 28, 2011

Heeding the Qur’anic instruction to assist the needy, Jamia Riyadhul Jannah mosque in Mississauga, Ontario will start offering free meals, seven days a week from noon to 7 p.m., starting Friday. The Sunni/Sufi mosque, located in an industrial park near Credit View and Argentia Rds., is the first North American mosque to provide hot meals to all regardless of faith, organizers claim. The halal menu will vary daily, with the entrees ranging from burgers to pasta and other items.

Community outreach was a founding principle of the mosque when it opened last August, Sohawardy said. Future plans include providing temporary shelter for recent immigrants. The mosque has been putting the word out with flyers distributed through food banks and other community services. Initially, the food will be brought in, kept warm on site and be served in a small 18-square-metre dining room. But the mosque is equipped with a kitchen and additional dining space, leaving room for expansion.

Debate about Muslim prayer emerges in Eid celebrations at Metro Toronto Convention Centre

Toronto Star – August 30, 2011


The debate over Muslim prayers at a Toronto school wove its way into Eid al-Fitr celebrations on at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. Speaking to a crowd of more than 10,000 gathered, Jamal Badawi, a prominent author on Islam, called attempts to stop the Friday prayers at Valley Park Middle School a form of “secular fundamentalism.” Critics, including several religious groups, have condemned the school for allowing an imam to conduct prayer services for Muslim students in the cafeteria.

The festival, which includes carnival rides and a bazaar, has been organized by the Muslim Association of Canada for 26 years. Premier Dalton McGuinty made a brief appearance, thanking the attendees for their contributions to the province’s economy and culture. Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath also addressed the crowd.

Squash prodigy flees Taliban for Toronto

Toronto Star – August 13, 2011


Maria Toorpakai Wazir picked up a squash racquet at age 12 in rural Pakistan and discovered her talent for the game, she was in another kind of fight entirely. That’s when the death threats started. Not long after she went pro, her father found a letter on the windshield of his car. He says it was from the Taliban. It said he must make his daughter stop playing.

Since March, Toorpakai has been living in Toronto, training with Canada’s own squash legend, Jonathon Power. He says Toorpakai will soon be the best in the world. Her father has been long deplored by other tribal men for his ideas about equality. He believes everyone is invested with talent and in tribal women in Pakistan, it’s going to waste. In Toorpakai’s family, both daughters were home-schooled. But from the time her older sister was 8 years old, custom dictated that she stay indoors. Toorpakai, on the other hand, more closely resembled her four brothers, so the family acted as if it had five sons.

“At first I was brave,” she says. “But the more I came to learn about these things, it’s the biggest dishonour to the family if somebody kidnaps your girl. If it happened, my father would never be able to lift his hand. So I stayed at home.” Unable to properly train during her late teens, Toorpakai has fallen in the rankings since her peak in 2008. She is currently 179th worldwide. But Power believes she has what it takes to be the best.

Toronto 18 plotter renounces his right to parole hearing

The Toronto Star – July 28, 2011


Ali Dirie, a member of the so-called Toronto 18 terrorist cell who is scheduled to be released from prison this fall has renounced his right to a parole hearing. Dirie was among 18 people named in 2006 for plotting to cause bloodshed and panic in Canada by bombing nuclear power plants and RCMP headquarters and attacking Parliament. The Somali-born Dirie was arrested in 2005 and was already in prison when police moved in on the group in 2006, but he continued to recruit and work for the group while behind bars.


Dirie is scheduled to be released in October. He was scheduled to appear before parole officials in mid-August. Last year Dirie said that while he opposed Canada’s military role in Afghanistan, he had come to realize that a violent response was unnecessary. While he still believed in jihad, he said he favoured a political and peaceful version to get his point across instead of using terrorist acts like blowing up buildings.

Canadian killed in Somali clashes

The Toronto Star – June 8, 2011


A Somali-born Canadian who reportedly led a faction of the outlawed Al Shabab fighters was killed during clashes according to the country’s government-led radio station. A photo of the young man identified as “Abdirahman Canadian” was posted on the Somali website Radio Mogadishu. An army commander with the country’s transitional federal government told reporters a Canadian passport was later found in his pickup truck.

Government troops shot him along with another man when they failed to stop at a government-controlled checkpoint, the radio station reported.

Al Shabab, a radical group fighting to instill an Islamic government in Somalia and has pledged allegiance to Al Qaeda, was designated a terrorist organization in Canada last March. At least 10 Canadian men of Somali origins have disappeared from Toronto and Ottawa since 2009, reportedly to join the group. Mohammed Elmi Ibrahim, one of missing men who was from Scarborough and in his early 20’s, was reportedly killed in battle in March 2010. Fear again struck Toronto’s Somali community this year when news spread about two young women who had also fled to Mogadishu to join the Shabab.


Toronto mosque’s congregation torn over article praising Libya’s Gadhafi

Toronto Star – June 3, 2011

Haroon Salamat, chairman of the Toronto and Region Islamic Centre, used a North York mosque’s congregation’s newsletter to condemn NATO and Western efforts to defend Libyans from longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi. Some worshippers are upset because the centre was built by money provided by the Libyan government. Salamat told the Toronto Star, he wrote the opinion piece because he wanted to provide an alternative to what is in the mainstream media. He added that even though the centre has received funds from Libya for 20 years, it is not a mouthpiece for the regime.

The mosque, commonly referred to as TARIC Islamic Center, has received money from the World Islamic Call Society, funded by the Libyan government to spread Islam.

In 1991, it was given $1.5 million to build the centre, which is located on the northeast corner of Highways 400 and 401. Since then, it has received up to $20,000 each year for some of its programs.

British Muslim man on no-fly list stranded in Canada

The Toronto Star – February 16, 2011

Questions remain after a British man who was flagged for being on the U.S. no-fly terrorist list was suddenly cleared to go home when his story became public. Dawood Hepplewhite, 30, a self-employed auto mechanic in Sheffield, England, identifies himself as a white Muslim. He ran afoul of the air rules while attempting to fly home Sunday with his Canadian wife and their three children, ages 1, 3 and 5. He says Air Transat flagged his passport and turned him away. The same thing happened when he tried to fly on Air Canada and British Airways.
He has been in Toronto since Oct. 29 visiting his wife, who was raised in Toronto and was trying to sponsor him so they could live together in Canada. He has travelled to Toronto several times in the past year. His visitor’s visa was to expire April 29.
Hepplewhite believes he has been put on the U.S. no-fly list because about three years ago, he applied for a teaching position in Yemen, considered a breeding ground for terrorism. He later abandoned the idea after he was pulled aside by police in England. U.S., British and Canadian authorities would not comment on the specifics of the case.