Muslim FBI agent who helped Canada wants to reclaim his religion from jihadis

OTTAWA — A Muslim FBI agent who helped Canadian authorities foil a terrorist plot says his religion is being desecrated by violent jihadis — and he wants the public to hear a different story.

tamerThe keys are educating people about the true tenets of Islam and including Muslims in the fight against those who warp the faith for their own ends, said the undercover agent, who has written a candid book as Tamer Elnoury, his cover name during the Canada-U.S. operation.

“Al-Qaida and ISIS are the only ones with a voice,” Elnoury said in an interview. “I wanted to start the conversation. Because at the end of the day, the only way we’re ever going to win this global war on terror is if we stand united against it, and we understand it, and we don’t just use the jihadi brush to paint every Muslim.”

An Arabic speaker, Elnoury has been doing undercover counter-terrorism work for the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation since 2008, a calling that has taken him around the world.

In 2012, he found himself posing as a wealthy American real estate player and al-Qaida backer to halt a plan to derail a passenger train that travels from New York to Toronto.

“American Radical” is his story of the investigation that led to terrorism convictions and life sentences in 2015 for Chiheb Esseghaier, a Tunisian citizen doing advanced research in nanotechnology in Montreal, and Raed Jaser, a stateless Palestinian who settled in Toronto with his family.

The look in Esseghaier’s eyes when he talked about killing infidels was something Elnoury had never seen before, he writes. “It was a look of hatred and death. It made me physically sick.”

Elnoury testified, using his pseudonym, during the rail-plot trial in Toronto, and was dismayed by the media focus on Islamic extremism.

“Nothing true about Islam,” he writes. In the media’s defence, he adds, all they heard were Esseghaier and Jaser’s interpretations.

Elnoury recounts how, despite the concerns of the Crown prosecutor, he wanted to squarely address the question in the witness box.

“These religious views that are presented are a complete desecration of my religion,” he told the court. “So it stands out to me when I am having a discussion about rationalizing killing innocent women and children.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM TIMES COLONIST (CANADA)

Advertisements

Terrorism charges are only reserved for Muslims

cpt111385833.jpg.size-custom-crop.1086x0Prosecutors announced recently that Alexandre Bissonnette will go straight to trial on a slew of charges arising from his attack on a Mosque in Quebec City earlier this year. Despite killing six and wounding 19 in the brazen assault on worshippers, he is not charged with terrorism.

The announcement came on the heels of the Las Vegas massacre where 59 were killed and 527 injured. No terrorism charges there either, even though it meets the Nevada state definition.

No doubt that in both cases people were terrorized. Yet, the terrorism label is sparsely used.

Technically, because there no universally accepted definition, authorities can selectively apply it. Indeed, one person’s terrorist may be another’s criminal or freedom fighter. To many observers, the term appears to be reserved for “others.”

Stephen Paddock was not a terrorist, according to Las Vegas Sheriff, Joe Lombardo, who immediately labelled him a “local individual” and a “lone wolf.” Similarly, Bissonnette may have been “disturbed.” And of course, they were both “sick” and “demented.”

If they were Muslims, they would be “homegrown” terrorists committing “jihad” or “Islamic terrorism.” Mental health or personal issues would not have factored as much.

The Criminal Code defines terrorism as an act committed, entirely or in part, for political, religious or ideological purpose, objective or cause that has “the intention of intimidating the public, or a segment of the public with regard to its security.”

There are plenty of reports documenting the Laval political science student’s journey from a moderate conservative to someone with far-right sympathies and connections, though this may not satisfy strict evidentiary requirements.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE TORONTO STAR 

Mass celebration of diversity overwhelms anti-Islam rally at city hall (Vancouver)

png-0819n-vancouverrally-1488VANCOUVER — In the end, the organizers of a planned “anti-Islam” rally Saturday in Vancouver only spurred a celebration of diversity, anti-fascism and tolerance of Islam so massive it spilled onto the streets outside Vancouver City Hall and shut down a nearby street.

At the peak of the counter-protest at around 2 p.m., when organizers from the Worldwide Coalition Against Islam Canada and the Cultural Action Party of Canada had been expected to speak out against federal immigration policy, about 4,000 people surrounded city hall, according to a police estimate.

The anti-Islam rally organizers were nowhere to be found.

WCAI Canada president Joey De Luca, who told media this week he was flying to Vancouver from his hometown Calgary for the rally, did not return a request for comment before deadline.V

ANCOUVER — In the end, the organizers of a planned “anti-Islam” rally Saturday in Vancouver only spurred a celebration of diversity, anti-fascism and tolerance of Islam so massive it spilled onto the streets outside Vancouver City Hall and shut down a nearby street.

At the peak of the counter-protest at around 2 p.m., when organizers from the Worldwide Coalition Against Islam Canada and the Cultural Action Party of Canada had been expected to speak out against federal immigration policy, about 4,000 people surrounded city hall, according to a police estimate.

The anti-Islam rally organizers were nowhere to be found.

WCAI Canada president Joey De Luca, who told media this week he was flying to Vancouver from his hometown Calgary for the rally, did not return a request for comment before deadline.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE VANCOUVER SUN 

Muslim Women in Hijab Break Barriers: ‘Take the Good With the Bad’

00xp-hijab1-master768When Ginella Massa, a Toronto-based TV reporter, recently accepted a request to host an evening newscast, she was not planning or expecting to make history for wearing a hijab. She was just covering for a colleague who wanted to go to a hockey game.

And that’s how Ms. Massa, who works at CityNews in Toronto, became the first Canadian woman to host a newscast from a large media company while wearing the head scarf. Her newscast, broadcast on Nov. 17, became the subject of social media celebration, and news sites around the world heralded her.

“It’s been a little insane the last two weeks,” Ms. Massa, 29, said in an interview. “My phone hasn’t stopped ringing. I’m still working, so I’m trying to field calls and messages and everything in between.”

Ms. Massa’s newscast was one of a string of recent stories about young hijab-wearing women, or hijabis, who have pushed boundaries by strolling into spaces where the standards of appearance tend to be restrictive. Nura Afia, a 24-year-old from Colorado, was hired as a CoverGirl makeup ambassador. And Halima Aden, a 19-year-old from Minnesota, was a contestant in a beauty pageant. Ms. Aden sported a hijab and, during the swimwear portion of the competition, a burkini.

“All my relatives in Somalia are like, ‘We don’t know what pageants are,’ ” Ms. Aden told NPR, “ ‘but congratulations.’ ”

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE NEW YORK TIMES

Muslims, Christians partner to bring refugees to Victoria (Canada)

Masjid-al-Iman-picMuslims and Christians are forming a partnership in an effort to bring refugee families to Victoria.

They will work to help two or three families that have fled violence in countries such as Syria or Iraq. Prime minister-designate Justin Trudeau has pledged to bring 25,000 Syrian refugees to Canada by the end of the year.

The partnership brings together Masjid Al-Iman with Oak Bay United Church and St. Aidan’s United Church in Saanich.

The groups are a good match, said Ismail Mohamed Nur, the mosque’s imam.

Nur said the Muslim community is “very happy” to be able to work with the Christian groups.

“It’s something that’s been echoed on their side, as well,” he said.

“One of the things that we’ve been talking about when we’ve gotten together is the fact that these kinds of issues, it makes us put our differences aside.”

Nur said that while Christianity and Islam have differences, “at the same time, we have more things in common.”

“One of those things is helping people,” he said.

“This is a real-case scenario where our action or inaction will actually affect people’s lives.”

He said that getting refugees to a new home is just part of the process.

“The first part of helping those people is to bring them to a better place, to Canada, but that’s just half of the story,” he said.

“The second part is helping them integrate into society and taking care of their needs.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE COLONIST 

Niqab should not be election issue, say Christian, Muslim and Hindu leaders in Canada

mohammad-mazirLeaders from different religions gathered in St. John’s on Thursday and were united in their belief that wearing of the niqab should not be an election issue.

The niqab has become a divisive federal election topic in recent weeks, with the Conservative government vowing to fight a Federal Court of Appeal ruling saying women shouldn’t have to remove niqabs, which cover their faces during citizenship ceremonies.

Leaders from the Anglican, Catholic, Muslim and Hindu religions all took part in the meeting on Thursday, organized by the Religious Social Action Coalition.

While the focus was on poverty reduction, the niqab issue wasn’t far from their minds.

Mohammed Mazir, with the Muslim Association of Newfoundland and Labrador, doesn’t think the niqab should be part of anyone’s campaign.

“It’s really an issue which I think certain politicians feel they can make some points and gain some ground,” he said after the meeting.

“That’s up to them, whether the public will support them or not. As far as we’re concerned, it’s totally a non-issue.”

Rami Wadhwa

Rami Wadhwa hopes that Canadians will get used to the niqab the same way they did with Sikh turbans in years past. (CBC)

FULL ARTICLE FROM CANADIAN BROADCASTING COMPANY 

Sign of the times? Canadian Church becomes a mosque

WINDSOR, ON. AUGUST 19, 2015. -- The former Lincoln Road United Church is seen in Windsor on Wednesday, August 19, 2015. The church is now the Masjid Noor Ul Islam.                           (TYLER BROWNBRIDGE/The Windsor Star)

WINDSOR, ON. AUGUST 19, 2015. — The former Lincoln Road United Church is seen in Windsor on Wednesday, August 19, 2015. The church is now the Masjid Noor Ul Islam. (TYLER BROWNBRIDGE/The Windsor Star)

The long-standing Lincoln Road United Church has been sold and the historic building that was erected 100 years ago for Protestant Christians will now serve Windsor’s Muslim community.

The Masjid Noor-Ul-Islam Madressa and Cultural Centre of Windsor is not yet in full operation, but crosses came down and new signs recently went up for the mosque.

The building, constructed in 1915 as a Methodist Church, had been for sale for almost three years. It sold in February for under $500,000, significantly less than the United Church’s original asking price of $895,000.

“It was very sad when we closed but our resources were dwindling and the congregation was getting older and reducing in size,” said Ross Mitton, chair of the finance and property committee of the United Church Essex Presbytery. “Unfortunately, there just wasn’t enough of the next generation — and I’m talking about 60 years old — taking the (church director) positions. So it had to close.”

Mitton, who attended the neo-gothic church for 25 years, expects to see the impressive stained-glass windows, which depict Biblical scenes and which were custom made for the space, eventually covered.

“Their religion is different than ours, but it’s still going to be used as a house of God,” Mitton said. “So we were OK with that.”

The Masjid Noor-Ul-Islam Madressa and Cultural Centre of Windsor, established in 1983, was a longtime neighbour of the church, operating in a cramped house in the 700 block of Lincoln Road for years.

The building is listed under the heritage act but not designated, which means the new owners can renovate the property but cannot demolish it.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE WINDSOR STAR