SHAFAQNA- Syed Zaidi is getting sick of talking about radicalized Muslims, who are giving his religion a bad name.
“It’s becoming very painful to watch,” said the president of the Islamic Shia Ithna Asheri Assocation of Ottawa. “It makes me feel sick because they’re brainwashed.”
After Ottawa’s Khadar Khalib, John Maguire and Awso Peshdary were charged with terror-related charges on Tuesday, several members of the Muslim community in the capital said they won’t let that define their faith.
“We believe they are not Muslims and are abusing the name of Islam,” said Zaidi. “Our teachings are based on love and saving lives. We are told to be people of compassion and love.
“We love this country, and we need to give positive energies to the community,” he said, adding he wants to continue seeing Muslim groups in Ottawa co-operate with police to wipe out extremists.
“Things are deteriorating somehow. We need to design a system with our government so our youth aren’t brainwashed,” Zaidi explained.
Adam Gilani, the former president of the Muslim Student Association at the University of Ottawa, agrees saying he’s thankful to see another batch of arrests.
“This shows the systems we have in place are working,” said Gilani. “We’re finding them and stopping them.”
Gilani said the Muslim community in Ottawa has recognized the added tension and is aware of the issues they face.
And he said many mosques are targeting and addressing individuals who could be radicalized.
“They’ve responded to this and they’re actively working with RCMP to get at the root causes,” he said. “It’s a long-term thing, and will take a few years for meaningful strategies to see results.”
Abul Qasim, a member of the Thaqalayn Muslim Association — University of Ottawa Chapter said he believes authorities need to tackle radicalization at the root, on social media.
“Most of the time it starts online, then they go to the mosque and deliver these things to normal Muslim people,” he explained. “I just wish there was more emphasis put on catching these guys on social media, because you can do anything on there.”
But despite all the negative news attached to his religion, he said he’s never been made to feel uncomfortable being a Muslim in Ottawa.
“I’ve had no negative reactions. Maybe on social media but never in person,” he recalled. “But there will always be people who are against Muslims.”