Islamic group looks to dispel myths
Posted: Friday, September 23, 2016 6:00 am | Updated: 6:01 am, Fri Sep 23, 2016.
An imam who is visiting Thunder Bay next week sees a similarity between some U.S. politicians and extremists in the Middle East.
Tariq Azeem, an imam with Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, which will host an open house in the city, believes that the anti-Muslim rhetoric from American politicians is meant to serve their agenda and mirror what extremists are doing.
“They are using the name of the religion just to strengthen their grasp over the people and that is very similar to what is happening in the United States,” Azeem said.
“Our community believes that religion and politics are two separate things. They should be kept separated. That’s the teachings of Islam. The religion teaches absolute peace and tolerance. Those extremists have basically twisted the words. They do this so they can have more political power. It has less to do with the religion and more to do with their political agendas.”
Azeem, who is based in Alberta, is travelling across the country for a conference in Toronto. He explained that this would be the first time they have held an open house in Thunder Bay but mentioned that other Muslim groups have paid visits before. Other open houses are planned for Dryden, Fort Frances and Kenora.
He said it is important to reach out to smaller municipalities so that misconceptions about Muslims don’t persist. He said they want to talk about Islam with the broader community and feel it is important that the messages of that faith come from someone who practices it.
The open house follows a series of bombings in New York and New Jersey that happened over the weekend. Suspect Ahmad Khan Rahami was arrested on Monday following a shootout with police.
Azeem said the recent attack does put pressure on Muslims.
“I consider it our responsibility as Muslims to speak out on such events and condemn them openly so people will know that Islam is not associated with terrorism or extremism at all,” he said. “At the same time, I hope the people come out and listen to our message. That way they will be able to see for themselves that our scripture, our books do not support extremism at all.”
The open house is scheduled for Sept. 26 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Waverley Resource Public Library.