PM calls Hal­i­fax imam

Of­fers con­do­lences, com­fort dur­ing tele­phone con­ver­sa­tion

Cape Breton Post - - CAPE BRETON/ATLANTIC - SUP­PORT BY THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

A Nova Sco­tia imam says his fears of more vi­o­lence against mosques were eased Fri­day by a di­rect call from the prime min­is­ter.

Zia Khan of the Cen­tre for Is­lamic De­vel­op­ment in Hal­i­fax told The Cana­dian Press on Mon­day he was fear­ful of more at­tacks like the one that killed six men in Que­bec City.

But Khan says he felt con­soled af­ter a sur­prise call at home Fri­day morn­ing from Justin Trudeau.

The 49-year-old spir­i­tual leader says he thought it might be a prank un­til he heard the prime min­is­ter’s voice and they started a 15-minute con­ver­sa­tion.

“It ac­tu­ally jolted me a bit,’’ he said. “He said, ‘We stand all to­gether, with my heart­felt love and kind­ness to all of you.’ ‘’

“To make that ef­fort to ac­tu­ally talk to some­one and give con­do­lences and lis­ten to the plight of peo­ple who are feel­ing anx­ious at this mo­ment, I ... felt he truly cared,’’ he said.

Through­out the week, a steady se­ries of de­liv­er­ies of flow­ers, figs, choco­lates and other gifts have ar­rived at the imam’s home and at the cen­tre in down­town Hal­i­fax, lead­ing Khan to say he be­lieves the shoot­ing has built bonds rather than di­vi­sions among Cana­di­ans of dif­fer­ent faiths.

The Good Ro­bot brew­ing com­pany next door, which had a dis­pute with the cen­tre over noise lev­els at the brew pub in the fall, sent choco­lates and flow­ers.

“We were in­un­dated with love and kind­ness ... out of this tragedy, good­ness had come for­ward,’’ said Khan.

The imam says politi­cians have pre­vi­ously at­tempted to use his pres­ence for a photo op­por­tu­nity, but he says he felt Trudeau’s call was sin­cere.

“I’ve met lead­ers of dif­fer­ent coun­tries and it’s a photo op­por­tu­nity, but he ac­tu­ally had no other in­tent but to send his con­do­lences,’’ Khan said, adding that it was his ini­tia­tive to con­tact a re­porter about the call.

Khan said he voted NDP in the last elec­tion, and con­tin­ues to ex­pect the Lib­eral gov­ern­ment will act on a com­mit­ment to amend Bill C-51’s anti ter­ror­ism leg­is­la­tion — which con­tains pro­vi­sions that Khan be­lieves should be re­formed.

The Lib­er­als have com­mit­ted to amend the law to en­sure all CSIS war­rants re­spect the Char­ter of Rights and Free­doms, to re­view ap­peals by Cana­di­ans who have been placed on “no fly’’ lists, and to nar­row broad def­i­ni­tions of “ter­ror­ist pro­pa­ganda.’’

“Bill C-51, it’s some­thing that (Stephen) Harper tabled and it re­quires checks and bal­ances be­cause it’s scary for civil lib­er­ties,’’ said Khan.

How­ever, the imam said he didn’t press Trudeau on leg­isla­tive changes, say­ing the dis­cus­sion fo­cused on the prime min­is­ter send­ing con­do­lences to his com­mu­nity in a time of tragedy.

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