Manitoba

Don't condemn Aaron Driver for 'misguided' beliefs, Muslim leader says

A Muslim leader in Manitoba says Aaron Driver, the Winnipeg man who has expressed support for ISIS, is misguided and needs help in channeling his concerns for people in the Middle East.

Driver entitled to his views, Shahina Siddiqui says

Aaron Driver doesn't consider himself a terror threat and doesn't think Canadians should fear him 3:03

A Muslim leader in Manitoba says Aaron Driver, the Winnipeg man who has publicly expressed support for ISIS, is misguided and needs help in channeling his concerns for people in the Middle East.

In a phone conversation with CBC News, Driver called last fall's attack at Parliament Hill "retaliation" and the death of Cpl. Nathan Cirillo "justified" for Canada's role in bombing Muslims in Syria and Iraq.

The 23-year-old has caught the attention of CSIS by tweeting his support for ISIS. That activity landed him on a watch list.

He also shared his views regularly on social media, and he was regularly shut down by Twitter for doing so.

"I think the big issue is I'm a Canadian living in Canada, and I'm OK with soldiers or police officers being targeted for what they're doing to Muslims," Driver said.

"I think it's a little hypocritical that people would take issue with people retaliating against them … when it's the police and the military who are killing Muslims."

'Violence is not the answer'

His comments did not surprise Shahina Siddiqui, executive director of the Islamic Social Services Association.

Siddiqui told CBC News that Driver is entitled to his views, since Canada is a democracy, but she hopes he talks to community elders.

Shahina Siddiqui, executive director of the Islamic Social Services Association, says Aaron Driver is entitled to his views but she hopes he talks to community leaders. (Jeff Stapleton/CBC)
"It's obvious that he's hurting for what he feels for people in the Middle East and other places, but he has to realize that violence is not the answer," she said Wednesday.

"I think they're coming from a place of pain, and when you're young you do not have the bird's eye view of being able to process."

There are healthier ways to channel concern for the situation in the Middle East, she said, such as by raising money for humanitarian efforts.

Siddiqui said she believes Driver is being manipulated by geopolitical issues and his views appear to show a misguided sense of justice.

"Don't condemn and abandon this young man. His feelings are genuine," she said.

"That he has a sense of justice is a good thing. How he is channeling it and what he thinks are the solutions are something that we need to address."

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.