Cal­gary imams fight back against Is­lamic State re­cruit­ment


A group of Cal­gary imams is mark­ing the first line of de­fense at the foot of the Rocky Moun­tains against the Is­lamic State group’s re­cruit­ment of Cana­di­ans as fighters.

Sev­eral imams is­sued a re­li­gious edict against IS ji­hadists last month, de­nounc­ing its threats against Canada and its on­line re­cruit­ment af­ter dozens of Cana­di­ans — mostly from Cal­gary — trav­eled to Syria to join their cause.

In the fatwa, the imams urge Mus­lim youths to shun the sway of the IS group, which they ac­cuse of hav­ing vi­o­lated Is­lamic tenets “in the most hor­rific and in­hu­mane way.”

“Some Mus­lims, hav­ing the fatwa against them, they will have sec­ond thoughts” be­fore seek­ing to join an ex­trem­ist group, said Khalil Khan, pres­i­dent of Cal­gary’s Al Mad­i­nah Is­lamic cen­ter.

“(They) will won­der if this is right or wrong.”

Khan is one of 37 imams and re­li­gious schol­ars from across Canada, plus one from who en­dorsed the fatwa.

The edict was mo­ti­vated by a wave of re­cruit­ment, as at least a dozen peo­ple have left the oil­rich prov­ince of Al­berta to fight with the Is­lamic State group abroad.

The call comes in the wake of the Jan­uary 2014 death of Damian Clair­mont, a 22-year-old Cal­gary man who was en­ticed to join the ex­trem­ist group and who be­came the first Canadian casualty in the IS push to carve out an Is­lamic “caliphate” in the Mid­dle East.


Za­heera Tariq, a direc­tor of the Al Mad­i­nah mosque, told AFP that re­cruits are be­ing lured by mis­rep­re­sen­ta­tions of Is­lam.

“It’s a lack of ed­u­ca­tion, a lack of knowl­edge,” she said, adding that young peo­ple are “be­ing in­flu­enced by those peo­ple who are mis­rep­re­sent­ing Is­lam, who are mis­quot­ing the Prophet.”

She added: “They need to find proper imams.”

Gath­ered at the mosque, Tariq, Khan and oth­ers say more re­sources are needed to ad­dress a grow­ing re­li­gious ed­u­ca­tion gap fac­ing Mus­lims whose num­bers are soar­ing in Cal­gary.

The city’s Mus­lim pop­u­la­tion has in­creased four­fold in the past two decades to 120,000. In 2010, Na­heed Nen­shi be­came the first Mus­lim to be elected as mayor of a ma­jor Canadian city.

“The Mus­lim pop­u­la­tion is grow­ing rapidly in Cal­gary. That’s why we needed a big­ger mosque,” Tariq com­mented, point­ing to con­struc­tion un­der­way to en­large the mosque and add space to ac­com­mo­date some 800 stu­dents.

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