For Immediate Release
Date: July 25, 2014
Jewish and Muslim Leaders Meet in Calgary
Calgary’s Jewish and Muslim leaders met yesterday at Beth Tzedec Congregation, the largest Jewish synagogue in Calgary to discuss Jewish-Muslim relationships in Calgary. After last weekend’s unfortunate incident at City Hall during pro-Palestine and Pro-Israel rallies, it was important that the two sides meet in order to prevent such incidents from happening again. Imam Syed Soharwardy reached out to Jewish leaders and requested a meeting. Rabbi Shaul Osadchey of Beth Tzedec Congregation responded with an invitation to Muslim leaders to meet at the synagogue. When Muslim leaders lead by Imam Syed Soharwardy arrived at Beth Tzedec, Rabbi Shaul Osadchey and other Jewish leaders welcomed them. Rabbi Shaul Osadchey gave them the tour of his synagogue and explained the Jewish scriptures and traditions. For most of the Muslim leaders, this was the first time that they had ever entered a synagogue and met a Rabbi.
From the Jewish side, Rabbi Shaul Osadchey represented the Beth Tzedec Congregation and Rabbi Howard Voss-Altman represented Temple B’nai Tikvah. From the Muslim side, both the Shia and the Sunni leaders of Calgary attended the meeting. Imam Syed Soharwardy represented the Islamic Supreme Council of Canada, Imam Ghalib Hussain and Imam Zareef Hanif represented the Al Madinah Calgary Islamic Assembly, Riazuddin Ahmed represented the North West Muslim Association and the Muslim Council of Calgary, Riaz Khawja and four other Shia Muslim leaders represented the Hussaini Association of Calgary.
All the leaders agreed on the following points.
• We strongly condemn the violence that took place during last weekend’s rallies at the City Hall. Violence cannot be tolerated under any circumstances. We may disagree on issues and perspectives but we are firmly against resolving disputes and conflicts through violence. The only way to resolve disputes and conflicts is through dialogue and the promotion of mutual understanding.
• We believe in the freedom of expression. This is a treasured value of Canadian society that every citizen has an equal right of expression. We recognize and respect the rights of both the Pro-Palestine and Pro-Israel individuals and groups. We recognize the fact that international events and tragedies do affect us and that people are very passionate and sensitive about their causes. They have the right to protest and lobby for their causes but these protests and rallies must be peaceful and law-abiding. We will never allow anyone to disturb the peace of our city.
• In order to develop better understanding of each other and to establish better channels of communication between Jewish and the Muslim leaders, a working group will be established. This Jewish-Muslim working group will meet on frequent basis to strengthen the relationship. Muslim Imams will invite the Rabbis to speak at the mosques and the Rabbis will invite the Muslim Imams to speak at the Synagogues. In this way, it is our intention to model civic behaviour that draws our respective communities together in the hope that peace and respect will prevail.
At the end of the meeting, the Muslim leaders thanked Rabbi Shaul Osadchey for his hospitality. Rabbi Shaul Osadchey in turn congratulated Muslim leaders on Ramadan and wished them happy Eid-ul-Fitr.
For any questions please contact Rabbi Shaul Osadchey at 403-255-8688 or Imam Syed Soharwardy at 416-994-5467.