Abbotsford mosque gets online hate for exhibit on Jesus


One Abbotsford mosque is being harassed online for an upcoming exhibit on the Islamic understanding of Jesus Christ – at an event meant to strengthen the community in the name of diversity.

The Abbotsford Islamic Centre is hosting its fourth annual Open Mosque Day on Feb. 22. But something new was added this year, a commemorative showcase of the life and teachings of Jesus from an Islamic perspective, where he is considered an important prophet.

The amount of hateful backlash surprised many of the organizers, who have put on similar exhibitions in other churches before, according to Adnan Akiel, founder and president of Bridging Gaps Foundation.

“It’s been more than in the previous years, and it’s unusual in terms of the comments that we’ve received,” Akiel said. “There were some threatening ones.

“Most were just derogatory.”

A large portion of the online attacks appear to come from Christians taking offence to the belief in Jesus as a prophet in another religion, others are just xenophobic, some are a mix of both.

“Even though the Islamic belief in Jesus is not the same as that in Christianity, there are many similarities that provide a platform of unity,” Akiel said. “The Mosque only intends to share information and clear misconceptions while completely respecting the diversity of different belief systems within the community.

“We just wanted to… bridge the gap between Muslims and non-Muslims.”

He says Muslims treat all their prophets equally, there is no ranking by order of importance.

“As Muslims, we don’t differentiate between different prophets. You don’t say Mohammad is better, or Jesus is better or Moses is better. We treat them all with equally with respect… we have no intention to disrespect people of any other belief.”

The organizers have been also been criticized for having a section where guests can try on a hijab. Akiel said the section shouldn’t be taken so seriously.

“Whoever is interested can try on the hijab, take pictures, have a good time. And there’s a bit of backlash on that as well, but that’s not unusual.

“Most of the backlash we’ve received has been on [the Jesus] aspect of Open Mosque Day.”

Akiel does say the mosque has also received a lot of support alongside the negative reactions.

“I really want to make that point, that we genuinely appreciate and love the positive support.”

Source: Abbotsford mosque gets online hate for exhibit on Jesus

Backlash over the Women’s Mosque of Canada is predictable – and misplaced

Of note:

Across the country, makeshift mosques are popping up in various towns and cities. Many Canadian Muslims are observing Ramadan and renting out community centres, or taking up space in each other’s living rooms, basements and local dining halls to join in congregational prayers before breaking fast or to perform extra evening prayers.

There isn’t anything controversial about these gatherings. As meals are set out on tables, patterned prayer rugs, large colourful linens or simple mats are laid out nearby. Men, women and children eventually line up together in prayer.

Yet, one such pop-up gathering has received particular attention – and not all of it positive. A few weeks before Ramadan, a group of women launched the Women’s Mosque of Canada. The inaugural Friday prayers were held inside Trinity-St. Paul’s United Church in Toronto. Roughly 40 Muslim women and allies from various faith traditions listened to co-founder Farheen Khan give the sermon.

While the prayers proceeded in tranquility, reaction to the event was less calm. The debate that emerged once again symbolizes the divide that continues to exist in our communities when it comes to the place of women in traditional sacred spaces.

Why do we need this, wondered people writing in an online discussion group of more than 300 Toronto Muslim activists, leaders and scholars and posting to the Women’s Mosque’s Facebook page. One community leader admonished the effort, saying there was nothing in Islamic tradition to support the notion of a women-only mosque. Others suggested the effort would only divide people and would reinforce harmful stereotypes about the oppression of women.

Then there were the supporters, including several men who have themselves witnessed the unequal treatment of women and girls. They are sometimes banished to cramped rooms and poorly maintained areas, or made invisible behind barriers – physically and spiritually separated from a wider community in which they expect to belong.

“It’s been 30 years. How long should I tell my daughters to wait before they get taken as equal partners where they worship?” asked Naeem Siddiqui, a long-time community advocate.

Many women have decided they’ve already waited long enough.

Ms. Khan, herself deeply tied to the traditional mosque environment, was hoping to avoid any backlash. She simply aims to provide an opportunity for women and girls to regularly gather for Friday prayers and together reclaim their religious inheritance.

“Like many women, I grew up in a religious family and attended mosque. In fact, my father was one of the founders of the first mosque in Mississauga, so faith is an essential part of my life,” she wrote in a recent essay for NOW Magazine. “But as I got older I felt less connected to the experience. I didn’t see myself reflected in the scholarship, in the language and in the programming offered to women. Women’s Mosque of Canada is an attempt to engage women, like myself, to reconnect with their religion in a space with other women.”

That Muslim women, often facing the brunt of Islamophobia, need a place to heal is not lost on many. “Sadly, the reality today is that many women feel welcome everywhere except in what we believe are the best places on Earth, the mosques,” Ottawa Imam Sikander Hashemi acknowledged in an e-mail.

Indeed, a 2016 Environics survey of Muslims in Canada confirmed that women were much less likely to attend places of worship than their male counterparts.

Canadian filmmaker Zarqa Nawaz chronicled the growing alienation she felt in her own local community in a 2005 National Film Board documentary, Me and the Mosque. Little has changed since then, although many continue to push for better representation of all levels of mosque governance and participation.

Following in-depth studies of American mosques titled Re-Imagining Muslim Spaces, the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding launched a toolkit in 2017 to encourage religious leaders to nurture more welcoming spaces. Other American national institutions have similarly called for more inclusion and provided advice on how to achieve it. Last year, the Muslim Council of Britain launched a six-month program to train women to become mosque leaders.

“Muslim women, Muslim male allies and non-Muslim supporters of mosque reform are participating in one of the most significant struggles presently happening in our global Islamic communities,” Canadian researcher Fatimah Jackson-Best wrote in 2014 for the magazine Aquila Style. “Mosque reform is not some fringe movement or a bunch of troublemakers trying to jeopardize the image of Islam. This is about spiritual equality and destroying archaic notions that are based in culture and custom and have little to do with the religion.”

Growing alienation has sparked the UnMosqued movement in which women, young people and converts eschew traditional institutions, including multimillion-dollar mosques, in search for alternatives or third spaces. These are formal and informal gatherings outside of traditional religious centres and homes, where there is often less rigidity and an authentic embrace of diversity.

Those anxious about the Women’s Mosque of Canada should be less concerned with the thought of women reconnecting with their faith and instead commit to addressing the schism that drove them out of the mosques in the first place.

Source: Backlash over the Women’s Mosque of Canada is predictable – and misplaced Amira Elghawaby

Giving up control of Brussels mosque, Saudi Arabia sends a signal

Positive step. Even if Salafism does not necessarily lead to violence, it is extreme and intolerant and not conducive to integration (as are most fundamentalist strains of religions):

Saudi Arabia has agreed to give up control of Belgium’s largest mosque in a sign that it is trying to shed its reputation as a global exporter of an ultra-conservative brand of Islam.

Belgium leased the Grand Mosque to Riyadh in 1969, giving Saudi-backed imams access to a growing Muslim immigrant community in return for cheaper oil for its industry.

But it now wants to cut Riyadh’s links with the mosque, near the European Union’s headquarters in Brussels, over concerns that what it preaches breeds radicalism.

The mosque’s leaders deny it espouses violence, but European governments have grown more wary since Islamist attacks that were planned in Brussels killed 130 people in Paris in 2015 and 32 in the Belgian capital in 2016.

Belgium’s willingness to put its demands to oil-producing Saudi Arabia, a major investor and arms client, breaks with what EU diplomats describe as the reluctance of governments across Europe to risk disrupting commercial and security ties.

Riyadh’s quick acceptance indicates a new readiness by the kingdom to promote a more moderate form of Islam – one of the more ambitious promises made by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman under plans to transform Saudi Arabia and reduce its reliance on oil.

The agreement last month coincides with a new Saudi initiative, not publicly announced but described to Reuters by Western officials, to end support for mosques and religious schools abroad blamed for spreading radical ideas.

The move towards religious moderation – and away from the extreme interpretation of Islam’s Salafi branch that is espoused by modern jihadist groups – risks provoking a backlash at home and could leave a void that fundamentalists try to fill.

But Saudi Arabia’s recent moves on religion are seen by Belgian diplomat Dirk Achten, who headed a government delegation to Riyadh in November, as a “window of opportunity”.

“The Saudis are disposed to dialogue without taboos,” he told Belgium’s parliament last month after the mission was hastily put together after the assembly urged the government to break Saudi Arabia’s 99-year, rent-free lease of the mosque.

But he also cautioned: “Some do not, or barely, admit that this form of Salafism leads to jihadism.”

Details of the mosque’s handover are still being negotiated but will be announced this month, Belgian Interior Minister Jan Jambon told Reuters.

The diplomatic contacts, led by the countries’ foreign ministers, were intended by Belgium to prevent what Jambon called an “exaggerated response” from Saudi Arabia — indicating the Belgian government had sought to ensure there was no diplomatic backlash.

This, he said, was “under control” following a visit to Belgium last month by Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir.

Before Saudi Arabia took control in the late 1960s, the Grand Mosque was a disused relic of the Great Exhibition of 1880 – an Oriental Pavilion.

Saudi money converted it to cater to migrants from Morocco invited to work in the country’s coal mines and factories. It is run by the Mecca-based Muslim World League (MWL), a missionary society mainly funded by Saudi Arabia.

Concerns about the mosque grew as militant groups such as Islamic State started recruiting among the grandchildren of those migrants, many of whom say they still feel they do not belong in Belgian society, opinion polls show.

Belgium has sent more foreign fighters to Syria per capita than any other European country. Belgian officials now suggest the Muslim Executive of Belgium, a group seen as close to Moroccan officialdom, should run the Grand Mosque.

Although the Saudi government has denied any role in the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks against the United States which killed more than 3,000 people, 15 of the 19 airplane hijackers who carried them out were from Saudi Arabia and linked to late Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, the plot’s Saudi-born mastermind.

Bin Laden was a follower of Wahhabism, the original strain of Salafism which has often been criticized as the ideology of radical Islamists worldwide. Yet many of Islamic State’s positions are far more radical than Wahhabism, the ultra-conservative branch of Islam dominant in Saudi Arabia and founded by 18th century cleric Mohammed ibn Abd al-Wahhab.

A classified report by Belgian security agency OCAD/OCAM in 2016 said the Wahhabi branch of Islam promoted at the mosque led Muslim youth to more radical ideas, sources with access to the report said.

“The mosque has influence to spread this hateful ‘software’,” a senior Belgian security source said. “Nobody paid attention for decades.”

Belgium’s parliament said what it preached was “a gateway or even a predisposition to a more combative Islam that is violent”, calling in October for an end to the Saudi lease.

The same month, immigration minister Theo Francken tried to expel the Grand Mosque’s Egyptian imam of 13 years, calling him “dangerous”, but a judge reversed that decision.

But Belgian security sources say there is no proof imams at the Grand Mosque preached violence or have had links to attacks.

Some who went to fight in Syria had studied there but men are more prey to recruiters for militant groups online and on the streets of underprivileged boroughs such as Molenbeek, in Brussels, where some of the Paris attackers lived, they say.

Tamer Abou El Saod, who was appointed director of the Grand Mosque in May, says there are problems over the way it is perceived but denies it espouses a fundamentalist version of Islam. He says he is ready to work with Belgian officials.

“There are changes happening already and there are even more changes coming in the very near future,” he told Reuters.

Belgian leaders say they want the mosque to preach a “European Islam” better aligned with their values – a familiar refrain across Europe following the Islamic State attacks of the last few years.

But it is unclear who will operate the sprawling mosque complex, which receives about 5 million euros ($6 million) a year through the MWL which has for decades promoted a hardline interpretation of Islam at dozens of institutions worldwide

The MWL has recently adopted a more conciliatory tone. In just over a year since being appointed, its secretary-general, Mohammad bin Abdul Karim al-Issa, has met with Pope Francis and taken a public stance against Holocaust denial. Issa told Reuters in November the organization’s new mission was to annihilate extremism.

For Saudi Arabia, the mosque is a chance to prove it is turning over a new leaf after years of accusations it turned a blind eye to – if not actively endorsed – extremist ideology.

Crown Prince Mohammed has already taken some steps to loosen ultra-strict social restrictions, scaling back the role of religious morality police, permitting public concerts and announcing plans to allow women to drive this summer.

The changes, however, may be too late since most militant groups that emerged at some point from Saudi networks have grown independent, says Stephane Lacroix, a scholar of Islam in Saudi Arabia.

“That this is going to solve the problem of radical Islam because if the Saudis change, everything’s going to change: It’s not the case,” he told Reuters.

Source: Giving up control of Brussels mosque, Saudi Arabia sends a signal

Quebec City Muslims alarmed by increasingly public displays of racism one year after mosque shooting


Rachid Raffa is tired and bitter.

It’s been 43 years since he chose to settle in Quebec City after leaving Algeria. But as his encounters with racism become more commonplace, he’s come to feel less at home.

“When I came to this country in 1975 I got off at the wrong airport,” the 68-year-old said during a recent lunch break from his job at the provincial Ministry of Transport.

“I should have landed elsewhere in Canada.”

Raffa has been an active member of Quebec City’s Muslim community for decades. In the 1990s, he was president of the Islamic Cultural Centre, which later opened a mosque in the suburb of Sainte-Foy. He still prays there regularly.

More recently, he’s watched with disgust as mosques around the city are increasingly targeted by vandalism.

Anti-Muslim tracts were plastered over three prayer spaces in 2014. Some had their windows smashed the following year.

Raffa’s sense of dread deepened when, in June 2016, a pig’s head was dumped outside the Islamic Cultural Centre with the words ‘Bonne Appétit’ [sic] in a card.

“My bus goes by the mosque and I often told my wife ‘May God protect this place.’ But it happened,” he said.

On Jan. 29, 2017, moments after Sunday evening prayer ended, a gunman entered the nondescript building in Sainte-Foy.

Six men were killed that night, five others were injured. Seventeen children were left without fathers and the entire city was shaken to its core.

The response to the tragedy was swift. Thousands gathered the next day in the cold, holding candles and walking in silence, to honour the victims.

In the days that followed, politicians denounced all forms of hate speech and promised to safeguard the rights of all citizens.

But the light that emerged during the city’s darkest hour faded quickly.

CBC News spoke to dozens of community members in the weeks leading up to the one-year anniversary of the shooting. They described having to negotiate casual racism, outright Islamophobia and persistent fears for their safety.

Several who agreed to speak on the record refused to appear on camera or have their picture taken. They were concerned they would be targeted afterwards.

The social harmony promised by Quebec’s leaders after the shooting has failed to materialize.

In its place are acrimonious political debates over identity and religious accommodation, a surge in activity of far-right groups and a spike in the number of reported hate crimes.

“Everything that touches Muslims has become explosive. And we are fed up. I am fed up,” said Raffa.

“I am completely overwhelmed that this tragedy has led to the rise of racist rhetoric in the public sphere, to the complete indifference of Quebec’s elite.”

A climate of fear

Shortly after the shooting, Quebec City’s Muslim community resumed its long-standing effort to acquire a burial ground in or around the city.

The city’s first mosque dates from the late 1970s. But families had to travel to Laval, 260 kilometres away, to bury their dead.

They thought they had found a suitable location for the cemetery in Saint-Apollinaire, a town only 40 kilometres outside Quebec City. Even the local mayor was on board.

But a citizens group arose in opposition, and the cemetery project was quashed by a slim majority in a referendum.

Source: Quebec City Muslims alarmed by increasingly public displays of racism one year after mosque shooting

Quebec judge rejects bid to shut Muslim centre

Sensible decision:

Just because a municipal official saw men praying at a community hall doesn’t make that place a mosque, a Quebec judge has ruled, thwarting a bid by the city of Mascouche, a suburb outside Montreal, to shut down a Muslim centre.

The judgment is the latest twist in a series of disputes where municipal officials in Quebec have tried to curtail the operations of mosques and Islamic centres by citing zoning regulations.

Mascouche was trying to shut down the Essalam community centre, saying that the building, in a strip mall, had a zoning that forbids places of worship.

“This ruling will have a significant reach for all municipalities in Quebec that have to deal with this kind of situation,” Mascouche Mayor Guillaume Tremblay said in a statement sent to The Globe and Mail.

In his ruling, Quebec Superior Court Justice Pierre Labelle said that Mascouche had engaged in a fallacious form of reasoning – “a sophism,” he said – when it argued that since people pray in a place of worship, a community centre that allows prayers must be a place of worship.

“To that extent, any individual or collective prayer held in a residence, school or workplace would turn that location into a place of worship,” Justice Labelle said in his decision released Wednesday.

Similar stories have been public controversies for years in Quebec.

A year ago for example, Quebec Superior Court Justice Jean-Yves Lalonde decided in favour of the Badr Islamic Centre in its dispute against the city of Montreal. The city had told the Badr centre that it could no longer hold religious activities after a zoning amendment in the Saint-Léonard borough. However, the judge found that city employees had acted in bad faith and he ruled that the centre had an acquired right.

Justice Lalonde noted that the new locations where Montreal allowed places of worship tended to be in industrial areas, which was inconvenient to Muslims. “The move by the city … creates ghettoization, access problems and is a form of discrimination compared to traditional Catholic churches, which are generally in residential areas,” the judge wrote.

In the Mascouche case, Justice Labelle said the city had not acted in bad faith but held a rudimentary, ill-informed grasp of religious rights.

The problem began in the spring of 2015, when Mascouche Muslims sought a permit to use a hall for community events that included prayers and religious conferences. At the time, several Quebec municipalities were dealing with mosque controversies.

In Montreal, then-mayor Denis Coderre used a zoning change to block the polarizing imam Hamza Chaoui from opening an Islamic community hall in the city’s east end.

In Shawinigan, a Muslim cultural centre relocated after town council initially allowed a zoning change, then rescinded its decision after a public backlash.

By the end of the year, the Mascouche Muslims amended their application, removing mentions of religious activities. They were granted a permit in March of 2016.

Some residents then complained that the hall was being used like a mosque, alleging that more than a 100 people gathered in the evening to pray, Justice Labelle said in his ruling.

The city took action the night of June 29, 2016. It was during the month of Ramadan, when observant Muslims fast during the day and gather for communal meals and prayers after sunset.

Around 11:30 p.m., a city bureaucrat and two police officers showed up. They reported finding about 30 men praying in a room. Others who were in the room and outside were not praying. A week later, the city rescinded Essalam’s permit, saying that the hall’s use for religious activities contravened zoning. Essalam hired the high-profile constitutional lawyer Julius Grey and challenged the decision.

Justice Labelle noted that the zoning bylaw only talked about prohibiting places of worship but other city documents talked about a ban on religious activities. “The court is of the opinion that city cannot extend its ban beyond the very words of its bylaw,” he wrote.

He also said Mascouche engaged in sophism when it equated holding prayers with the presence of a place of worship. “The initial premise is not universal because prayers can be uttered in all places and not exclusively in a place of worship.”

While he chided Essalam for being disingenuous about holding prayers in its hall, Justice Labelle said the city was obstructing religious freedom.

Mascouche has 30 days to appeal Justice Labelle’s decision.

via Quebec judge rejects bid to shut Muslim centre – The Globe and Mail

Montreal mosque facing calls for investigation after imam preaches on anti-Semitic conspiracy theories


Prayer leader in question has been suspended and his remarks denounced by NCCM but local mosque authorities, like any local religious authorities, need to ensure that prayer leaders do not engage in hate speech:

A Montreal mosque where an imam had prayed for Jews to be killed “one by one” is facing fresh calls for an investigation after more videos surfaced online showing anti-Semitic preaching.

The Middle East Media Research Institute released a video on Tuesday of sermons in which an imam at the Al Andalous Islamic Centre conveyed conspiracy theories about Jews, their history and their origins.

Sheikh Wael Al-Ghitawi is shown in the video clips claiming that Jews were “people who slayed the prophets, shed their blood and cursed the Lord,” reported MEMRI, which translated the Friday sermons.



The imam went on to say Jews were the descendants of “Turkish mongols” and had been “punished by Allah,” who made them “wander in the land.” He further said that Jews had no historical ties to Jerusalem or Palestine.

The view conveyed by the imam has typically been used to deny that Jews have a connection to the land of Israel, said Rabbi Reuben Poupko, co-chair of the Quebec branch of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs.

 “This is a bizarre strain of radical propaganda. It appears in the writings of Hamas and other groups like it and claims to debunk Jewish history,” said the rabbi, who said it was “unseemly” to use a religious service to propagate hate.

He said he did not believe such views, as well as the “deeply troubling” earlier calls to violence, were supported by the broader Muslim community “but its presence in this mosque needs to be investigated.”

The videos were posted on YouTube in November 2014. The centre was already in the spotlight over an August 2014 video that showed an imam asking Allah to “destroy the accursed Jews,” and “kill them one by one.”

In a press release last week concerning the August 2014 video, the mosque administration blamed “clumsy and unacceptable phrasing” by a substitute imam, whose wording was “tainted by an abusive generalization.” The mosque could not be reached for comment about the most recent video.

“If you examine the annals of history you will see that the Jews do not have any historical right to Palestine,” Al-Ghitawi said in the latest video. He claimed there was “not a single Jew in Jerusalem and Palestine” for lengthy periods.

“Jerusalem is Arabic and Islamic,” he said at a separate sermon. “It is our land, the land of our fathers and forefathers. We are the people most entitled to it. We will not forsake a single inch of this land.”

On Monday the National Council of Canadian Muslims denounced the “incendiary speech” in the earlier Al-Andalous video, as well as a 2016 sermon at a Toronto mosque about the “filth of the Jews.”

The Muslim Association of Canada, which is affiliated with the Toronto mosque, has apologized and said it had suspended the prayer leader in question and launched an internal investigation into the incident.

Quebec’s Response to Hate: More Tolerance – The New York Times

NYT editorial notes the contrast between Canada and the US (but no reason to be smug):

No society is immune to acts of terrorism, especially by a lone wolf driven by deep hatreds. The United States has known many mass shootings; Norway had the mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik; in France last July, a man drove a truck into a crowd in Nice, killing dozens; the list could go on and on. When they strike, the measure of a wounded society is how it responds.

On Sunday, Quebec City was struck when, officials say, a 27-year-old student named Alexandre Bissonnette, known to be a right-wing extremist, walked into a mosque, began shooting and killed six people. The shock across Canada was immediate and tangible: Tolerance is a proud theme in Canadian identity — the country has taken in nearly 40,000 Syrian refugees since late 2015 when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took office. Now Canadians were wondering how this could have happened, and what it means — a question made more acute by their widespread revulsion at President Trump’s actions to block Muslims from the United States.

The response of Quebec’s premier, Philippe Couillard, is worth noting. “Every society has to deal with demons,” he said. “Our society is not perfect. None is. These demons are named xenophobia, racism, exclusion. They are present here. We need to recognize that and act together to show the direction we want our society to evolve.”

That was what Canadians sought to do. Thousands gathered at memorial services across the country, including Mr. Trudeau on Monday. Speaking earlier to Parliament, he addressed the more than one million Muslim Canadians: “Thirty-six million hearts are breaking with yours,” he said, referring to the population of Canada. “Know that we value you.”

In sad contrast, the reaction from Mr. Trump’s White House was to use the shootings to justify its anti-immigrant policies. The attack was a “terrible reminder,” said the White House press secretary, Sean Spicer, of why America’s actions must be “proactive, rather than reactive.” The logic, or illogic, seemed to be that if Muslims had been kept out of Canada, they would not have been killed.

Canada is not perfect; it, too, has its demons, as Mr. Couillard said. But the response of a democratic society must be to reaffirm its fundamental faith in freedom, including the freedom to practice one’s faith and cultural traditions. In Quebec, the demons took a terrible toll, but the country’s commitment to inclusion was, if anything, strengthened.

Quebec media, politicians express regret over Islam rhetoric in wake of mosque attack

Hopefully, a lasting lesson, not just an immediate one:

Across the province, political operators and media stars offered a range of regrets and conciliatory statements for their failure to take into account the weight carried by their constant analysis of the faith, practices and extremist fringes of Islam dating back more than 10 years.

Journal de Montréal columnist Lise Ravary wrote she has come to realize many citizens fail to catch the nuance between extremism and simple religious devotion in her writing as she has argued for a more secular state.

Parti Québécois Leader Jean-François Lisée admitted he has gone too far sometimes. His party long pushed for legislation that would limit religious accommodation in the province and restrict religious symbols and clothing in interactions with the state. Mr. Lisée once warned the burka – a head-to-toe covering some Muslim women wear – is a security risk because it could conceal firearms for a terrorist attacker.

“It wasn’t a good idea to bring that idea into the Quebec debate,” Mr. Lisée told reporters Tuesday. “It’s not easy to be Muslim in the 21st century. We could turn down our language while still debating our values.”

The Bloc Québécois federal party quietly took down an ad from the 2015 election that depicted a niqab – an all-covering black Muslim veil – transforming into a puddle of oil.

As for “radio poubelle” or “trash radio” as critics call it, Quebec City Mayor Régis Labeaume said the province must “reject … those who enrich themselves with hatred.”

One emotional talk radio host in the city admitted Tuesday to an airwave obsession with radical Islam and expressed his shame that his address book was empty when he needed to talk to local Muslim citizens. “I don’t think a week passes that I don’t talk about their religion, about radical Islam. When I wanted to talk to our own [Muslim] people, I figured out we don’t know any. We didn’t have a number,” said Sylvain Bouchard, morning host on FM93. Mr. Bouchard is far from the meanest host on Quebec City airwaves, and several of his competitors angrily denied going too far.

Muslims in Quebec City and across the province were buoyed by large public rallies of support in recent days but they wonder how much the public debate can change.

“Trash radio constantly wants to talk about Islam and it does us immense harm. We are a small community here and huge numbers of people listen to that radio. They see us, they don’t talk to us, they think we’re monsters,” said Yassin Boulnemour, a friend and co-worker of Abdelkrim Hassane, a 41-year-old father of two who was killed in the attack. “If you want to show us your solidarity, stop listening to the radio.”

Majdi Dridi, an organizer with the Quebec arm of the Muslim Association of Canada, said he hopes authorities will take more seriously routine acts of hate and Islamophobia the community encounters. “It’s time now to fine our points of commonality instead of talking about differences and how to accommodate them.”

Not all of the political and media actors are ready to forget about their agenda for limiting the place of Islam in the public sphere. Bernard Drainville, the former PQ member cabinet minister who in 2013 drafted the failed charter of values that would have limited religious dress in the public service among other measures, took to his current TV and radio commenting gigs to say the debate must go on – after a respectful pause.

Source: Quebec media, politicians express regret over Islam rhetoric in wake of mosque attack – The Globe and Mail

Incorrect Fox News tweet on Quebec City mosque attack earns scorn of PMO

Appropriate quick action by PMO. Expect this will not be the last time that these kinds of corrections and messages will be needed and which I suspect will be more effective than general messaging or statements:

The director of communications for the Prime Minister’s Office has written to Fox News, asking it to remove a tweet that she says is “dishonouring” the victims of the Quebec City mosque shooting.

Kate Purchase sent the letter to Bill Shine, co-president of Fox News Channel, asking the organization to remove a tweet that incorrectly reported the suspect in the shooting was of “Moroccan origin.”

Fox News responded by saying it regretted the error and would delete the tweet.

Amid the chaos that characterized the initial hours after the shooting, the incorrect information was also reported by a number of Canadian news organizations, including CBC News.

The Fox tweet only mentioned one possible shooter, while other organizations reported that there were two possible shooters, including one that was of Moroccan origin. Fox ‘s tweet contained text across an image of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau saying “We condemn this terror attack on Muslims.”

While two men were initially arrested, police have only charged 27-year-old Alexandre Bissonnette. The second man, 19-year-old Mohamed Belkhadir, was not involved in the shooting but rather was a witness to the attack that left six dead.

A link contained in the Fox News tweet leads readers to a story about the shooting in which Fox explains that its initial reporting on the incident later proved to be incorrect.

But Purchase wanted that tweet updated to reflect the most recent information.

“Sadly, this misleading information has been left to stand on the Fox News Channel’s Twitter account and continues to circulate online even now,” Purchase wrote.

“These tweets by Fox News dishonour the memory of the six victims and their families by spreading misinformation, playing identity politics, and perpetuating fear and division within our communities.”

Fox News Tweet

A screengrab of the tweet by Fox News, which went out Monday. (@FoxNews/CBC)

Purchase goes on to say that Canada is an “open, welcoming” country and a “nation of millions of immigrants and refugees.”

Moving beyond the tweet, Purchase says that “we need to remain focused on keeping our communities safe and united, instead of trying to build walls and scapegoat communities.

“If we allow individuals and organizations to succeed by scaring people, we do not actually end up any safer. Fear does not make us safer,” she says. “It makes us weaker. Ramping up fear and closing our borders is not a solution. It distracts from the real issues that affect people’s day to day life.

“For all of these reasons, we ask that Fox News either retract or update the tweet to reflect the suspect’s actual identity.”

Late Tuesday, managing director Refet Kaplan issued a statement saying the organization regretted the error and had made moves to correct it.

“ initially corrected the misreported information with a tweet and an update to the story on Monday,” Kaplan said in the statement. “The earlier tweets have now been deleted. We regret the error.”

Source: Incorrect Fox News tweet on Quebec City mosque attack earns scorn of PMO – Politics – CBC News

Peterborough synagogue welcomes Muslims displaced by mosque arson

Canada at its best:

A Muslim group in Peterborough, Ont., will kneel and pray today at a local synagogue, where they will be welcomed after their own mosque was damaged in an arson attack earlier this month that police are investigating as a hate crime.

“As Canadians we have to stick together,” said Larry Gillman, president of the  Beth Israel Synagogue, in an interview on  CBC’s Metro Morning today. “It’s not about religion, it’s not about race. Canadians do this.”

The Masjid al-Salaam mosque was damaged in a fire set deliberately on Nov. 14, part of a wave of anti-Muslim crimes after the attack in Paris a day earlier. A firebomb was placed in one of the windows of the mosque. The resulting fire caused $80,000 in damage.

The Beth Israel Synagogue will host two prayer sessions for local Muslims and a potluck dinner today.

It’s a partnership between Kenzu Abdella, the president of the Kawartha Muslim Religious Association, and Gillman.

As soon as Gillman heard about the fire at the mosque, he reached out to his synagogue’s board of directors to find out about sharing space with the Muslim congregation. They voted unanimously in favour.

“I hope this can be some kind of small example to others,” said Gillman.

Abdella wasn’t sure what to think at first. “Can we be here?” he remembered thinking.

Larry Gillman, president of the Beth Israel Synagogue, invited Muslims into his synagogue in Peterborough, Ont., for prayer. (Beth Israel Synagogue)

“In the beginning, it was a shock,” he said. “Within 24 hours, that changed. They walked to the mosque and told us that whatever we need, they will support us.

“Even though it came out of a tragedy, we are working together.”

Source: Peterborough synagogue welcomes Muslims displaced by mosque arson – | Metro Morning