Calgary Islamic leader calls for Western action to stop ISIS
Syed Soharwardy hopes protest brings awareness to local extremist recruitment efforts targeting Calgary youth
Calgary Sun | August 21, 2014BY BILL KAUFMANN, CALGARY SUN
Calgary Islamic leader Syed Soharwardy said he’s been condemned this week for being a bad Muslim by a Canadian ISIS fighter.
But Soharwardy said it’s only strengthened his resolve to embark on a hunger strike to protest the extremist group’s actions and bring awareness to its recruitment of local youths.
“He was trying to teach me Islam, that speaking up against ISIS was wrong,” Soharwardy, 59, head of the Islamic Supreme Council of Canada, said of the Wednesday night Facebook chat.
“But their view of Islam and the Koran is absolutely 180 degrees different from what most Muslims believe.”
The ISIS beheading of American journalist James Foley, he said, motivated him to begin the 48-hour hunger strike beginning Friday.
His action coming less than a month after the fasting of Ramadan, he said, also calls for more direct involvement by the West in the Mideast to stop ISIS.
The imam said he’ll ingest only water — most of that time being spent an Islamic centre at 421 Riverfront Ave. S.E.
Soharwardy said he welcomes dialogue with Muslim youth who might be tempted to head to Syria and Iraq to fight for ISIS.
Three Calgarians who’ve volunteered with the extremists have recently been killed in action in Syria and Iraq while the city’s considered a recruitment ground for them.
“This whole epidemic of Muslim youth getting involved is quite alarming…I will reach out to as many of them as I can, especially those on the borderline,” he said, adding he’s been in touch with Canadian authorities about his latest contacts with extremists.
But they haven’t been the only ones critical of him, he said.
Members of his community have called him a hypocrite for condemning ISIS while Israel kills Palestinians in Gaza, said Soharwardy.
And non-Muslims wrath has increased over ISIS’s crimes, he said.
“I’m getting it from Muslims and non-Muslims,” said Soharwardy, adding the hunger strike also promotes understanding of Islam.
Soharwardy’s fast will end 5 p.m. Sunday at the Whitehorn Community Centre, 228 Whitehorn Rd. N.E.