In a step to further protect Calgary Muslims with enough knowledge against radicalism, a group of Calgary imams is increasing its efforts to curb ISIL’s attempts to recruit young people in the area.
37 imams and religious scholars from across Canada endorsed a religious edict (fatwa) issued last month against ISIL, denouncing its threats against Canada and its online recruitment.
In the fatwa, the imams urge Muslim youths to shun the sway of ISIL, which they accuse of having violated Islamic tenets “in the most horrific and inhumane way.”
“Some Muslims, having the fatwa against them, 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.”
Addressing the issue, 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.”
Deliberating on the current situation among Calgary Muslims, Tariq Khan and other leaders 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, and 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.
It is said that a son of French-speaking Canadians, Clairmont, reverted to Islam at the age of 17 after a failed suicide attempt. Three years later, he began showing signs of radicalization.
“He met someone and moved downtown,” his mother Christianne Boudreau told AFP.
He joined an extremist cell whose leader was being monitored by Canada’s spy agency, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service.
Youths in this area are well off as most of them earn well from the oil patch of the isolated northern Boreal forest, where they can earn quick and easy cash.
In response, imams say Canadians — Muslim or otherwise — need to remain vigilant.
In the wake of terror arrests that sowed fear of backlash in their community, Canadian Muslims voiced utter rejection to violence and terrorist acts under any pretext, affirming that they are no less loyal to Canada than their non-Muslim compatriots.
A recent survey showed that the overwhelming majority of Muslims are proud to be Canadian, and that they are more educated than the general population.
Muslims make around 2.8 percent of Canada’s 32.8 million population, and Islam is the number one non-Christian faith in the country.