Hundreds across Canada gathered around mosques to form protective barriers – described by organisers as “human shields” and “rings of peace” – as Muslims in the country marked their first Friday prayers since a gunman shot dead six men who were praying at a Quebec mosque.
“No Canadian should be afraid to go to their house of worship to pray,” Yael Splansky, the rabbi behind the effort to set up “rings of peace” around Toronto mosque told the Canadian Press. “It’s a terrifying scene. Imagine people of faith going to pray in peace, to pray for peace, and to be at risk. Houses of worship are sacred and must be protected.”
But reports emerged of a mosque that had been vandalised just miles from where the funeral was taking place. A window at the Khadijah Masjid Islamic Centre had been smashed and the front door splattered with eggs, in an act described as “terrorism” by one city councillor.
News Agencies – December 19, 2012
Thousands of Muslims from across North America gathered in Toronto from December 21 through December 23 for the annual Reviving the Islamic Spirit convention. “The conference has always been about uniting and joining hands with scholars, journalists, academics, representatives from other faiths, and artists to promote messages of peace and tolerance,” RIS spokeswoman Farhia Ahmed told OnIslam.net.
Themed “Divine Light for Living Right: The Light of Prophetic Guidance in the Midst of Modern Darkness”, the convention is organized and managed by approximately 400 young Canadian volunteers. It brings a galaxy of prominent Muslim scholars including Sheikh Abdallah Bin Bayyah, Karen Armstrong and Dr. Seyyed Hossein Nasr, an Islamic studies professor at George Washington University. Also attending are the Grand Mufti of Bosnia Mustafa Cerić, scholar Habib Ali Al-Jifri, Swiss professor Tariq Ramadan, Egyptian preacher Amr Khaled, Dr. Aisha al-Adawiyya; Dr. Tawfique Chowdhury; Yasmin Mogahed and Edina Lekovic.
Reviving the Islamic Spirit convention was first launched in 2003 by Muslim youth to tackle the backlash on Islam and Muslims after the 9/11 and to build a bridge of understanding with non-Muslims. Last year, over 20,000 people attended the event and for the first time tickets were sold out by the second day of the 3-day program.
News Agencies – December 12, 2012
Canadian politician Justin Trudeau is brushing off criticism about his upcoming keynote speech at an Islamic convention, saying he’s proud to be participating in the event. His planned Dec. 22 appearance at the Reviving the Islamic Spirit conference in Toronto has been attacked by an anti-Islamism website and those complaints have been picked up by some mainstream media outlets. The critics have raised concerns about radical views and the alleged affiliation of other speakers at the event later this month; they have also pointed to alleged ties between major conference sponsors and the Islamic militant group Hamas.
When asked about the controversy, Trudeau said he doesn’t share the critics’ concerns and he accuses them of trafficking in misinformation. He said politicians from all parties have spoken at the annual Toronto event — including former New Democrat leader Jack Layton a few years ago. The convention had 30,000 attendees in 2011 and at least 20,000 are expected this year. The working title of Trudeau’s speech is: “Being Inclusive in Canada: Our Story, Our Politics, Our Future.” The event, founded by young Canadian Muslims a decade ago, aims to promote a forum for people to hear different viewpoints related to Islam.
Macleans – December 4, 201212 Comments
It has been almost seven years since police rounded up the so-called “Toronto 18,” thwarting a very real terrorist plot on Canadian soil. In time, the Crown and the courts separated the ringleaders from the stooges: charges were dropped against seven of the accused Muslims, while the other 11 were convicted and punished according to their level of guilt. Of the four core members who tried to detonate simultaneous truck bombs in downtown Toronto—a “spine-chilling” plot, as one judge said—two are now serving life sentences.
The answer, says Ontario’s highest court, is an emphatic no. “To impose on the police an obligation to ensure that undercover operators infiltrating a potential terrorist camp be equipped with some sort of strategy to warn youth (who may or may not be present) of the potential error of their ways, is neither tenable nor realistic,” the court concluded. “The prospects of such a strategy subverting the investigation, and possibly endangering the safety of the operative, are limitless.”
The ruling is a resounding victory for the RCMP—and vindication for Mubin Shaikh, the controversial civilian informant who was paid $300,000 to infiltrate the inner circle. The pinnacle of Shaikh’s undercover work was a now-infamous winter “training camp” near Orillia, Ont., where a dozen participants spent two weeks marching in the snow and learning to fire a semi-automatic handgun. One of those campers was a 17-year-old who had recently converted to Islam—and who would later become the youngest of the group convicted and sentenced (to 30 months).
On Islam – November 28, 2012
In a new effort to fight domestic violence in their country, Canadian Muslims are championing a new campaign to end violence against women.
The campaign, Muslims for White Ribbon Campaign, aims to end violence against women in the country. It is being launched with the unveiling of the campaign website (www.MuslimsforWhiteRibbon.com) and with imams and Muslim leaders committing to joinwith others to work to end violence against women.
The campaign runs from November 25, which marks the International Day for Elimination of Violence Against Women and culminates in White Ribbon Days at the Reviving the Islamic Spirit Conference at the Metro Toronto Convention Center on December 21-23. It also aims to promote healthy relationships through education and create partnerships among mosques, women’s organizations, and social agencies to create a future without violence against women.
This is not the first time Canadian Muslims join campaigns to fight domestic violence in the country. In January, Canadian Muslims joined the White Ribbon Campaign to fight domestic violence in their nation.
CBC News – November 12, 2012
A war memorial was vandalized in Toronto’s Coronation Park, just hours after Canadians paid tribute to veterans and fallen soldiers on Remembrance Day. Someone scrawled the message “Canada Will Burn Praise Allah” on the Victory Peace memorial, located near Lake Shore Boulevard and Strachan Avenue. Toronto police are treating the vandalism as a hate crime.
“It offends the nation at large because these war veterans have made the ultimate sacrifice and that’s just a slap in the face,” said Det. Anthony Williams. The Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations released a statement saying that both “Islam and Canada’s proud heritage are denigrated by this ignorant act.”
News Agencies – November 9, 2012
A Toronto mosque that runs an Islamic school cleared of hate crimes charges this week said it was disappointed at the “rush to judgment and harsh comments” it faced over the controversy. “Our teachings embrace and celebrate the Canadian values of tolerance, understanding and harmony,” Aliraza Rajani, president of the Islamic Shia Ithna Asheri Jamaat of Toronto said in a written statement.
The two-page statement did not address concerns raised by police that the investigation had identified teaching materials that, while not criminal, were produced in Iran, challenged core Canadian values and “suggested intolerance.”
The York Regional Police Hate Crimes Unit launched an investigation of the East End Madrassah, a school affiliated with the mosque, six months ago following complaints by
Jewish groups in Toronto.
News Agencies – September 28, 2012
The University of Toronto hired its first full-time Muslim chaplain and the man taking up the post hopes to combat stereotypes surrounding the faith. Amjad Tarsin is a 28-year-old of Libyan descent who hails from Ann Arbour, Mich. He began to devote himself to the religion when he was in university, dropping out of law school to get a degree in Muslim chaplaincy.
Tarsin sees himself as a different kind of Muslim chaplain, one who has travelled the world and identifies himself as a movie buff — especially when it comes to Japanese samurai films and the Lord of the Rings series. Tarsin’s goal is to have an open dialogue with students and create a strong Canadian Muslim identity on a campus with close to 5,000 Muslim students. To fill the position, the Muslim Students Association raised $70,000 with an online campaign that began in June. Funding came from around the world, with contributions pouring in from as far away as Denmark.
News Agencies – September 14, 2012
A group in Toronto says it wants to screen a controversial film that depicts the prophet Muhammad as a womanizer and a madman. Canadian Hindu Advocacy spokesman Ron Banerjee says he doesn’t yet have a location for a screening. Excerpts from the movie enraged Islamic protesters in Egypt, Libya and Yemen over its portrayal of Muhammad. Banerjee says they’ll also show snippets from other movies that are offensive to Christians and Hindus. He calls it a way of fighting intolerance.
News Agencies – September 2, 2012
Connecting with the broader community through arts, humor and entertainment, Canada’s annual Muslim festival has closed on a high note this weekend. “This festival is a great opportunity for Ontarians of all backgrounds to experience Muslim culture in all its diversity and vibrancy,” Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty said in a support message.
Muslimfest, now in its 9th year, featured over 50 local and international artists, concerts, comedy shows, film screenings, and art exhibits. Over 25,000 participants attended the two-day event which drew praise from politicians across the region including McGuinty and the City of Mississauga’s Mayor, Hazel McCallion. Some highlights of the festival included performances by local Canadian favorite, Dawud Wharnsby, and vocal artist, Junaid Jamshed, from Pakistan.