Anti-ISIS hunger strike ends — Calgary imam thankful for support over 52 hours of protest of extemists
Calgary Islamic leader Syed Soharwardy feels he’s made his point.
He went 52 hours without food — only water — in a bid to raise awareness and protest against the extremist group ISIS and its recruitment of local youths.
Sunday, with just minutes to go before he was to break his hunger strike, the 59-year-old head of the Islamic Supreme Council of Canada felt weak, having spent much of the final day laying down due to dizziness.
With just minutes to go, he said he was not proud. Instead he said he was thankful he got through, and that the message did too.
He’s been overwhelmed by messages showing support. More than a thousand, he said, counting e-mails, website posts and voicemails.
“When I walked across the country (in 2008), I thought that was the biggest achievement that I’d have … my walk was a multi-faith walk against violence,” Soharwardy said.
“I walked seven months.
“The response at that time was overwhelmingly very positive, but the response now in the last four or five days is more than what I had received (in 2008).”
However, not all of the messages the imam received were positive.
He received criticism during the hunger strike.
Before he started, he was condemned for being a bad Muslim by a Canadian ISIS fighter.
Also a month ago, as Soharwardy became more vocal about ISIS, he received a death threat over social media — a Facebook message posted saying, “If you see Syed Soharwardy walking on the streets of Calgary beat him to death,” he said.
Soharwardy said regardless of backlash, generating this attention — and educating young children — about the nature of ISIS is imperative.
“What ISIS is doing is exactly against Islam … I call it anti-Islam,” he said.
“These hate mongers — the extremists — do exist in every faith community … right now the Muslim community is in the spotlight.
“In the past, it has happened in the Christian community, in the Jewish community in the Hindu community, in the Sikh community.”