Imam Hamza Chaoui denies accusations of Mayors Ménard, Coderre
Chaoui says he's not an 'agent of radicalization,' responds for 1st time since denied centre permit
Imam Hamza Chaoui is responding for the first time since Montreal city officials announced he will not be given an operating permit to open an Islamic Community Centre called the Ashabeb Centre.
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On Saturday, Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre, alongside Mercier-Hochelaga-Maisonneuve Mayor Réal Ménard, announced they would not grant an operational permit to the community centre, saying it was an issue of public safety.
“I categorically refute allegations of Mayors Ménard and Coderre,” writes Chaoui on his Facebook page.
“I’m not an ‘agent of radicalization.’ I’ve never promoted hatred or violence against a group in my preaching or my classes.”
He says he encourages young people to integrate harmoniously into Quebec society.
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Chaoui says he's ‘outraged’ that politicians and media have used the establishment of the centre to increase Islamophobia and encourage debate on religious secularism versus fundamentalism.
Chaoui says the clips of his preaching played by the media have been taken out of context.
“What I preach is based on the Qur’an and the prophetic writings and is followed by the majority of Sunni Muslims. It’s similar to the foundation of Christian and Jewish traditions,” said Chaoui.
Chaoui is demanding an apology from Ménard and Coderre.
He says he's considering all legal options, including pursuing legal action towards elected officials, who, they feel, have "seriously tarnished their reputation."