Ottawa Muslims concerned about backlash

News of the arrest of two alleged terrorists in Ottawa, and one in London, Ont., has some local Muslims and the police chief concerned about the impact on Muslim residents of the capital.

News of the arrest of two alleged terrorists in Ottawa, and one in London, Ont., has some local Muslims and the police chief concerned about the impact on Muslim residents of the capital.

But others are not concerned, and some said Muslims should denounce terrorism.

Naeem Malik, president of the Ottawa Muslim Association, is concerned about the potential for a backlash after the arrests of Misbahuddin Ahmed, 26, and Hiva Alizadeh, 30, both of Ottawa, and Khurram Sher, 28, of London.

Police allege the men were part of a terrorist plot targeting sites in Canada and possessed materials to create makeshift bombs. All three have been charged with conspiracy to knowingly facilitate a terrorist activity.

Malik said he is hoping that there won't be a repeat of the days after the terror attacks on New York on Sept. 11, 2001, when Muslims were called names and told to go back to their "country of origin."  

Nazira Tareen of the Muslim Women's Association said Muslims have worked hard for many years to build a peaceful community, "and we don't want these people who we do not know to come here and give us a bad name."

The RCMP and Ottawa police are planning a meeting with local Muslim leaders to discuss the potential for a backlash, Ottawa Chief Vern White said.

But Abdul Hakim Moalimishak, director of the Ottawa Islamic Centre, said Canadian Muslims have shown themselves to be patriotic and said, "I truly believe that Canadian society knows the difference between religious communities and individuals. I think they can separate that, so I'm not really that worried."

Selma Siddiqui, of the Canadian Muslim Congress, said the allegations have to be taken seriously and people are naive if they believe there are no terrorists in Canada.

"The Muslims have to come out and denounce this," Siddiqui said of alleged terrorist plots.

Ottawa resident Mohammad Mossoud said he backs that idea.

"It's not that I'm Muslim," he said. "I live in Canada. This is my home, this is my country.

"I don't want anybody to do anything wrong to my country."

With files from the CBC's Sandra Abma