Edmonton Muslims Need To Have The Hard Conversation About Extremism

Two events took place this weekend in Edmonton. The Muslim response to both was quite different.

There was what is being termed a terror attack — a Somali refugee stabbed a police officer and rammed into pedestrians. Apparently, he was found with an ISIS flag. Within hours, Edmonton Muslim community stakeholders planned for a vigil at Churchill Square.

The Alberta Muslim Public Affairs Council condemned the attack. Likewise, Al Rashid Mosque sent their statement through email.

On the other hand, we had planned for the first-ever Conference on Islam and LGBTQ Muslims in Edmonton. Speakers were invited from across the United States to help sustain the conversation on faith and sexuality. The same Edmonton Muslim community stakeholders were sent invitations twice.

We had also invited representatives from the Edmonton Islamic Academy, the Edmonton Council of Muslim Communities, the Muslim Community Liaison Committee, the Green Room — a project of the Islamic Family and Social Services, amongst others.

The conference was widely promoted in the Edmonton Journal, Metro News and the Ryan Jespersen show to escape recognition.

The response was freezing silence.

The perpetuating narrative is one of victimhood. This is true for mainstream Canadians and Canadian Muslims alike.

It seems that the response of Edmonton Muslim community stakeholders is often more reactive than proactive. It is directed more outwards than inwards. It is more to counter Islamophobia from without than it is to counter the supremacist discourse of popular Muslim preachers from within.

The perpetrator of the heinous attack was noted for espousing extremist ideology in 2015. The Muslim community would be quick to relinquish him as part of the community. Others may claim that he was mentally ill.

Yet, blaming mental illness for terrorism is inappropriate as it brushes all those with mental illness with the same brush. Likewise, excommunicating an individual is simply a Pontius Pilate tactic to wash one’s hands off any responsibility.

In the context of the terror attack, great speeches will be offered. Terrorism will be unequivocally condemned. Others will question why should we have to assume responsibility for one lone person’s attack.

The verse, “whosoever takes one life is as if he has killed all humanity” will be projected. The importance of not stereotyping all Muslims will also be emphasized.

But once all the speeches and condemnations are done, all will return to their respective abodes until the next time such

Source:: The Huffington Post – Canada Travel

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