Date: September 18, 2001
The Right Hon. Jean Chrétien
Prime Minister of Canada
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
The Right Hon. Jean Chrétien,
On behalf of Muslims Against Terrorism (MAT) and the Islamic Supreme Council of Canada (ISCC), I would like to draw your attention towards a crisis, which may get worse with the time. I am sure that you are aware of the current situation faced by Canadian Muslims. After September 11 terrorists attacks in New York and Washington D.C. Canadian Muslims have been the targets of hate, violence, intimidation and discrimination. There have been several incidents in various parts of the country where the mosques have been vandalized, Muslim students in universities and schools have been harassed, Muslim women have been intimidated and death threats have been made to Muslim families. Personally, I have received four death threats on my own phone. I have reported those messages to police and they are doing the investigation.
I am sure you will agree that the Canadian Muslims are as Canadian as anybody else is. Canadian Muslims pay taxes just like other Canadians. Canadian Muslims are working and contributing in Canadian economy as any other Canadian. But I am not sure why Canadian Muslims become targets of hate and violence in case of any terrorism act? Is it because we follow a different religion than mainstream Canadians? OR is it because of our ethnicity? OR is it because of our colour and dresses? When any terrorist commits a crime why all Muslims have to face persecution? Why Muslims have to defend themselves and explain again and again that they are peace-loving citizens of this country?
If an individual or a group of individuals who happens to claim that they are Muslims and they commit a crime in the name of Islam, it does not reflect that all the Muslims are like them. There are terrorists and extremists in other religions too. I do not think that I need to identify them in this letter. Why the terrorists and criminals of other religions are not identified and associated with their religions? Why only Muslims have been singled out? Please forgive me but I have to say that Canada is still far away from being a just society. However, we all need to work together to achieve that goal.
We have explained and informed many times that Islam means peace. Our holy book, Qur’an tells us that killing one person is as killing all mankind and saving one human life is as saving all mankind. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) has given us a very clear definition of a Muslim. He (peace be upon him) said, ” A Muslim is that person from whose hands and tongue the others are safe “. Terrorism has no place in Muslim community. Killing innocent people regardless of their religion, race and colour is a major sin in Islam.
God’s Last Messenger towards humanity, Muhammad (peace be upon him) has told us that even in the situation of a war, do not kill children, do not kill women, do not kill old men, do not kill sick, do not cut trees, do not contaminate water, do not destroy the places of worship of other religions, do not kill animals except for food. Where in the world we can get better code of conduct than Islam?
Muslims do condemn the September 11 terrorist attacks on United States. On September 11, 2001 ISCC and MAT had sent you and the Canadian / US media the strongest condemnation of those terrorists attacks. We are demanding the US government to punish those terrorists and their supporters who are responsible for WTC and Pentagon disasters. But this punishment should not be given to the innocent and poor children, women and families of Muslim countries like Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, etc.
The Right Honourable Prime Minister,
After September 11, we, Canadian Muslims do not feel secure and safe in Canada. Our women and children are facing humiliation and intimidation in Canada. We can not practice our religion freely. In USA there have been two murders and numerous cases of vandalism and harassment. These trends are slowly moving towards Canada. We are certain that when USA and NATO forces will attack Muslim countries, the hostilities against Canadian Muslims will increase. The risk of violence against Muslims is very high. As our Prime Minister, we would like to ask you what actions have you taken to make sure that the Canadian Muslims do not become victims of another terrorism caused by our own neighbours and fellow citizens? Did the Canadian government make sure that when a Muslim country will be attacked by the US and NATO forces, the children, the women, hospitals, mosques, schools and other peace loving Muslims of that country will not be harmed? Can we rely on you and your government that no Canadian Muslim and peace-loving Muslims in Afghanistan, Iraq, etc. will be harmed? Please let us know.
The Right Honourable Prime Minister,
On behalf of Islamic Supreme Council of Canada (ISCC), Muslims Against Terrorism (MAT) and all Canadian Muslim I would like to mention that the Canadian government has miserably failed in educating it’s citizens about the values, beliefs and cultures of Muslim community. Although, Canadian government claims that Canada is a multicultural society but I am sorry to say that it is nothing more than a lip service. Canada can not be multicultural unless all Canadians tolerate, respect and understand the beauty of having different religions, languages, ethnicity, cultures and colours in Canada. Canadian government has failed to promote true multiculturalism based upon mutual respect, tolerance and justice. Only having some bureaucrats and some departments in the government to promote multiculturalism is absolutely not enough. The ordinary citizens of Canada have to have active participation in multiculturalism and enough understanding of other religions and cultures.
In order to minimize any possibility of future violence against Muslims and visible minorities we would like to propose the following short term and long term action items.
Short Term Action Items
ISCC and MAT would like to ask you;
- Please address Canadians through public media and ask them to refrain from violence against Muslims and visible minorities. Canadian should be informed that the Muslims are also equal citizens of Canada and as loyal as white Christian Canadians.
- To ask provincial and municipal governments to increase the security level in the cities and towns. Provide police protection to Muslim owned businesses, mosques and Islamic schools.
- To ask Canadian media not to use words such as “Muslim terrorist, Islamic terrorist, Muslim extremist, Islamic extremist, Muslim fundamentalist, Islamic fundamentalist, etc.” Such things do not exist and these words create hate and violence towards Muslims and the religion of Islam.
- Pass a resolution in the house of commons condemning terrorist attacks on the United States and asking Canadians to stay united against the forces of division, hate and intolerance.
Long Term Action Items
- Religious and cultural studies in schools curriculum should be included. In this course children should learn about the beliefs, traditions and teachings of all major religions of the world including Islam.
- The participation of Muslim scholars and intellectuals in the media is minimum compared to the followers of Christianity and Judaism. Islam is the second largest religion in Canada but its representation in the media is the lowest. Laws should be made in order to make sure that the Muslims and the other visible minorities do get equal opportunity in the media reporting activities and programs.
- The Federal government should announce a National Diversity Day. On this national day people of all faiths and cultures should celebrate their heritage and express their unity as one Canadian nation.
I would also like to request you that the Federal government should organize a ” National Counter Terrorism Conference” and invite leaders of religious and ethnic communities in Canada to discuss and plan Counter Terrorism. If Federal government can not organize such conference, Islamic Supreme Council of Canada and the Muslims Against Terrorism would like to organize this conference. Depending upon your availability, we will be more than happy to organize this conference in any part of Canada, on a date and time convenient for you. Please let us know.
Syed B. Soharwardy
Founder and President
Muslims Against Terrorism (MAT)
Islamic Supreme Council of Canada (ISCC)