The recent attacks by two extreme Islamists in Ontario and Quebec sent the wrong message about Muslim people, who are peaceful and proud of their country, says Habib Rehman.
That’s why Rehman, the president of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat Regina Chapter, organized Saturday’s noontime rally.
Rehman wanted to “show our solidarity with the soldiers and to condemn these atrocities of the terrorist organizations.”
From City Hall to the Cornwall Centre and back, about 100 members of Regina’s Muslim community marched and carried Canada flags and signs touting messages like “Love for all, hatred for none” and “My religion has been hijacked,” while they chanted “Long live Canada.” The rally began and ended with the group singing O Canada.
On Oct. 20, 53-year-old soldier Patrice Vincent was killed when Martin Couture-Rouleau ran him down with a car in Quebec. Two days later, Nathan Cirillo was shot and killed by Michael Zehaf-Bibeau while serving as honour guard at the National War Memorial in Ottawa.
Both killers were reportedly radicalized Muslims. Rehman says organizations like ISIS claim to be Muslim, but they do not refl ect true Muslim values.
“(They) portray Islam in a very bad way,” said Rehman. “Islam teaches peace and love for one’s country is part of the faith.”
Rehman wanted to publicly demonstrate that Muslim people “love our country” and do not tolerate terrorism.
Since the attacks, some Muslim communities across Canada have experienced backlash.
Rehman said he has not experienced a backlash in Regina, but he wouldn’t blame people for lashing out.
That’s why it’s important to convey the message that Muslim people denounce these crimes, and to educate the public about the true teachings of Islam.
“These people, the terrorist organizations, are giving the wrong message. They are portraying Islam as a violent religion, which it is not,” said Rehman. “There’s nothing in the holy Qur’an or in the sayings of the holy prophet which encourage Muslims to do these acts. … This is not Islam, what they are preaching and showing to the world.”
When people hear about terrorist attacks in the media, said Rehman, it shapes their perspective of Muslim people.
“Obviously what people see, they make their own impressions. This does not give a good impression of Islam. The good acts of the good Muslims are not portrayed across the media and that makes your thinking biased … You only get one picture, which is the wrong portrayal of the actual teaching of Islam,” he said.
While there have been questions as to whether these killings can be classified as terror attacks, since they didn’t appear organized and were undertaken by an individual, “It looked like a terrorist attack to me,” said Rehman.
“Killing one person is equivalent to killing all humanity according to the teachings of the holy prophet, and saving one soul is saving the whole humanity.
So these people are killing people indiscriminately, irrespective of their colour, creed or religion and that is completely against the teaching of Islam.”