Shaykh Faisal Hamid Abdur-Razak
Photo by Peter Criscione
Muslims in Peel Region gathered Sunday to denounce the terrorist attacks in Paris and stress that the extremists’ actions contradict Islamic teaching.
“We feel we need to dismantle the ideology of the terrorists and the extremists,” said Shaykh Faisal Hamid Abdur-Razak of the Islamic Council of Canada, who addressed the more than 200 men and women gathered at The Islamic Forum of Canada in Brampton.
“Islam should not be attached to terrorist activities and we have to find some way to do this. In the media they are described as Islamic terrorists or Islamic extremists. We don’t feel that’s fair because it demonizes and entire community. We need to take away the word Islam from the terrorists… because they are not Muslims. They are terrorists, period.
“Terrorism has no religion.”
The Islamic Forum of Canada, 200 Advance Blvd., extended an official welcome the new Members of Parliament that were part of a Liberal wave that swept into power last month.
Locally, Brampton and Mississauga sent 11 grits to Parliament and were invited Sunday to take part in discussions on some pertinent issues facing Muslims across Canada and the world, including the recent Paris terror attacks that killed 129 people and Syrian refugee crisis.
Community and religious leaders spoke Sunday of the need to build bridges in the community, as well as dispel misconceptions about Islam.
“There are some people that use incidents such as what took place in Paris as a reason to spread hatred about Muslims. This Islamophobia is real. Unfortunately even here in Canada, it has reached us,” said Faisal, a resident of Brampton.
The Liberal Party under leader Justin Trudeau won a decisive victory in last month’s federal election.
The political upheaval in Ottawa saw Canadian Muslims head to the polls en masse to vote out a government many felt promoted fear and divisiveness in favour of openness and greater dialogue.
Mississauga Malton Liberal MP and cabinet minister, Navdeed Bains, addressed some of the backlash directed at Muslims here at home (a Peterborough mosque was set ablaze and women wearing religious garb claimed they were assaulted) and urged Canadians to stand together in solidarity.
“We must not succumb to the politics of fear,” said Bains who praised Canadians for their response to the recent acts of hate targeted at Muslims.
Bains was joined by a number of area grits including Raj Grewal (Brampton East), Iqra Khalid (Mississauga-Erin Mills), Ramesh Sangha (Brampton Centre), and Ruby Sahota (Brampton South).
Brampton Mayor Linda Jeffrey was also on hand.
Canada’s new government has committed to take in thousands of Syrian refugees over the next year with many expected to settle in Peel Region.
Jeffrey and her Mississauga counterpart Bonnie Crombie have offered up help to Ottawa and Queen’s Park in this massive logistical endeavour.
“The Syrian refugee crisis has polarized my community very quickly,” said Jeffrey, who said she’s had to deal with growing resentment in certain circles. She spoke of “racist undertones” that threaten to divide and heighten tensions in the community.
“It’s our responsibility to help those individuals that come here,” Jeffrey said.
Crombie directed regional staff to come up with a comprehensive action plan to coordinate efforts to accommodate the influx of Syrian refugees.
A Nov. 12 motion, endorsed by Peel council, directed staff to report back as soon as possible with an analysis of the Region’s capacity to meet the demand precipitated by the influx of Syrian refugees.
Staff will also report on how the intake of Syrian refugees will affect existing budgets and resources.
Faisal told the crowd many Muslim religious and community organizations have also mobilized to help with resettlement.