Terrorism: An Interfaith Challenge in Canada and Abroad
by Leslie Mezei
The distressing news, especially for interfaith activists, has shown us that Canada is not beyond the reach of terrorists, that we are not isolated from the virus of violent fundamentalism. The challenge for us is to hold on to our course and redouble our efforts against labeling any religion as a whole. Violent terrorism has been and continues to be practiced by some throughout history in the name of just about all religions.
In this age of instant worldwide communications, there has been an outpouring of condolences to all involved in the latest atrocities, in which we full-heartedly join. There have been thousands of tweets. For instance, “Our great religions came from the same roots after all. I cannot comprehend Islamophobia.” Another said, “There are just as many extreme Christians as Muslims. Every Muslim I have met has been friendly, peaceful and considerate.” Many prayers and interfaith services have been held this past month.
Eboo Patel, founder of the Interfaith Youth Core, suggests in the Huffington Post that “These times require all of us to be interfaith leaders, to signal clearly that the worst elements of every tradition represent nobody. The murderers of all communities belong only to one community: the community of murderers.” And “interfaith efforts matter more than ever.”
In addition to our interfaith and interspiritual endeavors, we need to focus on the broader theme of pluralism, the active effort to spread the acceptance and celebration of diversity while focusing on our unity as members of the one human family.
Let me conclude by sharing the text of a beautiful prayer offered by Timothy Gianotti, founder of the Islamic Institute of Spiritual Formation, in Toronto, on the evening of April 15.
“On this night of grief, we reach out to all of the slain, all of the injured and maimed, all of the bereaved, all of the shaken, and we assure them of our ardent prayers for the light of God's mercy and healing and consolation and peace to illumine them. We also declare our solidarity with these violated innocent souls, and we pledge our friendship and assistance in whatever capacity we can befriend and assist. More, while we do not yet know who committed these crimes against humanity and heaven, we denounce and decry those who have perpetrated these criminal acts, conceived and executed in ignorance and moral blindness.
“Let us stand together in vigil tonight as one people under God. Let us pray for the dead and for the living; let us make firm our resolve to illumine the world with true justice, universal compassion and mercy, true knowledge and understanding, and a spirit of sisterhood and brotherhood that transcends the boundaries of creed, ethnicity, nationality, gender, orientation, and any other divide. Let us tonight stand together for the sanctity and dignity of every life, of all life. Amen.”
Canadian Muslims: A Plea to the West
Raheel Raza and Salim Mansur, The Clarion Project, April 24, 2013
The arrests of Chiheb Esseghaier, a 30-year old Tunisian studying in Montreal, and Raed Jaser, a 35-year old Palestinian landed immigrant resident in Toronto, for plotting the terror attacks on Via Rail, were preceded by reports of two Canadians (Ali Medlej and Xristos Katsiroubas, a Muslim convert) involved in the terrorist attacks on an Algerian gas plant deep inside the Sahara desert on the Algeria-Libya border. The two were killed by security forces, while a third Canadian (Aaron Yoon, a Muslim convert) is being held in a Mauritanian prison as a suspected terrorist. There was also report of a recent suicide bombing carried out in Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia, in which a Canadian (Mahad Ali Dhore) of Somali origin, and a former student at York University in Toronto, was identified as one of the suicide bombers.
These stories confirm the pattern of penetration by Islamists into the West for executing mass terror attacks, as were the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City, the Madrid train bombings in 2004 and the home grown Islamist terrorist attacks on the London public transit system in 2005 ...
The West needs to take seriously the war declared by Islamists against infidels, Zionists, Israelis and Muslims opposed to Islamism …
Responding to Religious Repression
Religious Extremism Exposed: An Investigation into the War on Faith
Zoriana Zwarycz, May 2, 2013, Vision TV Canada
Led by Libby Znaimer, host of The Zoomer Report on AM740 Zoomer Radio and The New Classical 96.3 & 103.1 FM, as well as Zoomer Magazine contributor, the expert panel featured His Eminence Thomas Cardinal Collins, Archbishop of Toronto, as well as Conrad Black, who has written extensively on the subject. The panel also included Rabbi Yossi Sapirman, Senior Rabbi at the Beth Torah Synagogue in Toronto, Shabir Ally, President of the Islamic Information and Dawah Centre International and host of Vision TV’s weekly Let the Quran Speak program, as well as Pandit Roopnauth Sharma, Spiritual Leader of the Ram Mandir Temple and Vice-President of the Ontario Multi-Faith Council. Documentary filmmaker Martin Himel was also on hand to share his experiences witnessing religious persecution first hand while traveling to various countries to produce Persecuted Christians and Jew Bashing:The New Anti-Semitism.
With the freedom to practice religion under direct attack throughout the world, the panel sought to determine the possible causes of an escalation in vandalism and violent incidents in recent years. The round table discussion began by highlighting the statistics of religious persecution provided by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, particularly a staggering 30 per cent rise in anti-Semitism in 2012 …
Interfaith Religious Studies Funded in Montreal
$5 Million Gift from McGill Alumni Strengthens Interfaith Scholarship
McGill Reporter, May 1, 2013
McGill alumni Barbara Keenan, BA’54 and Patrick Keenan, BCom’54, CA’57, have made a landmark gift of $5 million to the Faculty of Religious Studies, as part of the University’s fundraising effort, Campaign McGill: History in the Making. This donation – the largest to the Faculty since its founding – will fortify teaching, research, scholarly collaboration and outreach related to the study of comparative religion and interfaith dialogue.
“In our globalized world, religion is a vital dimension of our humanity,” said Barbara Keenan. “It is very important that today’s students – no matter what their course of study – have an understanding of and sensitivity to the multitude of faith traditions and the cultures they produce. This knowledge will help to shape them as tomorrow’s leaders.”
The Keenans’ gift will support five distinct initiatives related to interreligious scholarship:
Barbara and Patrick Keenan Chair in Interfaith Studies
World Religions and the Cultures They Create , a new introductory level course
Wilfred Cantwell Smith Graduate Fellowships
Barbara and Patrick Keenan PhD Dissertation Finishing Fellowships for doctoral students;
Barbara and Patrick Keenan Undergraduate Internship Awards
The Barbara and Patrick Keenan Conference Support Fund
“These initiatives will nourish creative, interdisciplinary scholarship and advance graduate and undergraduate education on issues of religion and society…
For a video about the Keenan’s and their gift to McGill’s Faculty of Religious Studies, go here.
A Scarboro Missions Website Resource:
Principles and Guidelines for Interfaith Dialogue
For the past few years and from various sources, Scarboro Missions has been compiling principles and guidelines for interfaith dialogue. These principles and guidelines are useful both for those new to the interfaith movement as well for interfaith veterans. You can find 19 of these documents, many in succinct form, on our website.
Please feel free to forward this announcement and the link below through your communities and networks for use in newsletters, bulletin boards, websites, mailing lists, list-serves, blogs, Facebook pages, twitter, etc.
To view or download these principles and guidelines free of charge, click here.
CANADIAN EVENTS AND OPPORTUNITIES