Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Local Muslims pray for peace, end to extremism

ISIS violence in Iraq an affront to their faith

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Local and national Muslim leaders are denouncing the atrocities of ISIS terrorists and pledging support for federal government efforts to protect Canadians in the region.

"We call on the federal government to take all measures to ensure the safety of any Canadians in the region, and to continue to promote the safety and well-being of all religious minorities," the National Council of Canadian Muslims said in statement Friday.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the victims of violence and atrocities committed by ISIS including, most recently, journalist James Foley."

Before news of the beheading of the American journalist spread around the world, leaders in Winnipeg's Muslim community spoke out against ISIS terrorists in northern Iraq who've been slaughtering people.

'We, here in Winnipeg, are blessed to practise our faith in its true spirit'

"We here in Winnipeg, are blessed to practise our faith in its true spirit and to live in peace and harmony with all our fellow Canadians, regardless of religious background, culture and ideology," said an Aug. 10 statement issued by leaders of Muslim organizations, including the Manitoba Islamic Association.

"In this spirit we offer our sincere and humble apology to our Christian and Yazidi brothers and sisters for the pain these misguided Muslims have caused them. Please know that we stand in solidarity with you and with all the persecuted people around the world," the statement said.

On Friday, one of those leaders commented on Foley's killing.

"My heart goes out to the journalist and his family and my prayers are with them," said Shahina Siddiqui, executive director of the Islamic Social Services Association.

"ISIS is a group of evil-doers that have killed thousands of people including Muslims, this latest atrocity and barbarity attests to their depravity," said Siddiqui.

The Manitoba Muslim leaders declared the actions of ISIS an affront to their faith.

"...We forcefully condemn any attempts by ISIS to associate their heinous crimes to Islam and to our prophetic tradition," they wrote. Under Islamic law, Muslims are to protect religious minorities within their countries and grant freedom of religion, security of life, honour, property and intellect to all citizens regardless of race, religion and gender, they wrote.

The National Council of Canadian Muslims has been condemning religious extremism for nearly a decade.

"Our message to anyone who espouses, endorses, or in any way supports this ideology of violence, is that you have nothing to do with our faith," the National Council of Canadian Muslims said in a news release.

The local Muslim community said it is praying for an end to extremism.

"We urge and pray that Muslim religious leaders and politicians around the world will continue to speak up and take strong and definitive actions against criminals and terrorists who are committing atrocities in the name of our faith."

In order to address the "evil" of ISIS, Siddiqui said it's important to identify who is supplying arms, funding and training the extremists. "We need to cut their supply line and choke them out."

carol.sanders@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 23, 2014 A21

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