Influential Pakistani cleric based in GTA
An Islamic scholar, who drew worldwide attention when he issued a fatwa condemning suicide bombings a month ago, spoke to CBC News in an exclusive interview from an undisclosed location in a Toronto suburb on Tuesday.
Muhammad Tahir ul-Qadri's Canadian locale is not widely known by his followers, most of whom are in Pakistan.
Qadri, who recently spoke out in the United Kingdom against suicide bombings, left the Muslim world for Canada five years ago.
"Multiculturalism has its own beauty," he said. "I say that Canadian society is the paradise of the present world."
Qadri said his recent fatwa is the strongest condemnation of "terrorism" to date. He said "terrorists distort, twist, and confuse the entire Islamic concept of Jihad" and that "terrorism is forbidden, and an act of rebellion and brutality and indeed of infidelity."
"They are out of the fold of Islam. They have become infidels. They have no relationship with Islam," Qadri told CBC News.
The cleric said he issued the 600 page fatwa because he has seen a rise in what he called terrorism in Pakistan over the past year.
"This fatwa, which is only the second one ul-Qadri has ever put out, is pretty much a direct provocation in the face of Osama bin Laden and Ayman al Zawahiri," said Tom Quiggin, an expert on jihadism, who works at Ottawa's Carleton University.
Qadri's enemies have said the root of their problems lie not in terrorism, but in the foreign policies of western governments.
According to Qadri, no matter what a country's foreign policy might be, it doesn't allow for the right to harm innocent civilians.
'They have become infidels'
"These things do not give you licence of committing suicide bombings in other countries, and killing those people who are not combatants," said Qadri.
"They should build up their pressure politically, in a peaceful way, democratically."
Qadri is a published author on this subject and the founder of the international Minhaj-ul-Qur'an movement, which is mostly based in Pakistan, where he once served as an elected member of the national assembly and was a close associate of assassinated prime minister Benazir Bhutto.
With files from Muhammad Lila