Canadian Muslim leaders fear backlash, appeal for calm

Muslim leaders in Ontario are worried their communities are becoming targets for violence and they are calling for calm after an alleged terrorist bombing plot was revealed, resulting the arrest of 17 people this week. Faith leaders say a backlash occurred in the days after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks in New York and Washington, D.C. Now a backlash is happening again, starting with threats and vandalism.

Windshields were smashed Saturday night in the parking lot outside the International Muslims Organization Mosque in Rexdale. Windows in the mosque were also broken by vandals. “This is our mosque (and) to see an attack like this is hard on us,” Imam Hamid Slimi said Wednesday.

Leaders of nearly every Muslim community in the Greater Toronto Area met with Lt. Governor James K. Bartleman on Wednesday to discuss their fears that the broken glass may be the start of religiously-motivated attacks. “We are in a phase of danger … when it comes to our security,” Slimi said. He asked Bartleman for support to prevent potential attacks against Muslims.

While more incidents of vandalism have not occurred since Saturday, Slimi said the organization has received many threatening email messages. He added that the Muslim community is committed to ensuring the security of the country. Slimi also appealed for mercy for the families of the 17 accused, saying they are being “abused.”

CTV, 7 June 2006