Ottawa shooting: Canadian Muslims denounce attacks

Canadian Muslim groups have condemned the two deadly attacks this week, saying the incidents have no connection to Islam or its beliefs.

Muslim groups respond to the Ottawa shooting

Canadian Muslim groups have condemned the two deadly attacks this week, saying the incidents have no connection to Islam or its beliefs 2:33

Canadian Muslim groups have condemned the two deadly attacks this week, saying the incidents have no connection to Islam or its beliefs.

Michael Zehaf-Bibeau shot and killed a guard at the National War Memorial in Ottawa on Wednesday before launching an attack in the Centre Block of the Parliament Buildings.

This came two days after Martin Couture-Rouleau, struck and killed a Canadian Forces member with a vehicle. Police had said Couture-Rouleau had been recently "radicalized."

Ihsaan Gardee, the executive director of the National Council of Canadian Muslims, denounced the attacks in a news conference on Thursday. He said an attack on one Canadian represented an attack on all Canadians.

"We stand united with Canadians in categorically condemning these cowardly and heinous acts. Our message to anyone who believes in violent extremist ideologies is that you have nothing to do with Islam," Gardee said.

Our message to anyone who believes in violent extremist ideologies is that you have nothing to do with Islam.—Ihsaan Gardee, National Council of Canadian Muslims

"You have nothing to do with the noble principles of our faith, which categorically condemns the taking of innocent life." 

One Ottawa imam said he worried the incident, one unlike any other that’s happened in Ottawa before, would change the city and its residents’ attitudes.

​"I hope we are not going to change too much as far as our safety is concerned and as far as our freedom is concerned, but our safety was affected, "said imam Sikander Hashmi from the Kanata Muslim Association on CBC Radio’s Ottawa Morning,

​"It definitely feels very different. It’s actually making me feel very sad." 

Ottawa police Chief Charles Bordeleau sent out a letter that encouraged building the relationships between ethnic groups over breaking them. He also said police are aware of potential concerns for Muslim groups.

​"This is about one individual who committed a despicable act," Bordeleau said, "I want to reassure [groups] should there be any backlash that they notify us.… We are there to continue to support them."

Muslims angry after shooting

Also on Wednesday night, a group of Ottawa imams met to discuss the community response to the shooting. Hashmi said the mood was sombre, and the meeting was dominated by mixed emotions.

Ihsaan Gardee, the executive director of the National Council of Canadian Muslims, denounced the Ottawa shooting in a news conference on Thursday, Oct. 23, 2014 with other Muslim community members. (CBC)
"There was a lot of unanimous sadness around the table as well as disbelief and perhaps even some anger. I am definitely feeling angry,” he said. “There is some concern regarding how people are going to react to something like this."

"Sometimes people react emotionally, and sometimes I think the fear is that a Muslim person could be at the receiving end of that anger."

Hashmi called the shooting a "brazen attempt" to attack Canadians and Canada and an attempt to "instil fear and divisions within us."

But he said everybody, no matter what religion, wants to do whatever they can to keep Canada safe.

Habib Nasrallah, a civilian member of the RCMP in Ottawa, also reached out to CBC News to share his thoughts on radicalized individuals. He wanted to make it clear Islam does not condone terrorist activity.

"There are Muslims out there who are not insane, who understand Islam the way it should be understood," he said. "Those who are doing this, they want to turn us into barbarians, like animals trapped in a cage."

Also on Wednesday, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at Canada condemned the attack on Parliament Hill and the one in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que.

"These acts of terror have no basis in any religion," the statement read. "Our thoughts and prayers are with the deceased, and we offer our heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of the soldier who gave his life."

A Toronto-area Muslim student group from York University also released a statement saying it has started a campaign against radicalized youth, called "Stop the Crisis."

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