Twenty imams issue fatwa against any attacks on Canada or the United States

The Canadian Press ~ The News
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CALGARY - Spurred on by an attempted bombing of a U.S.-bound plane on Christmas Day, 20 imams from across Canada issued an edict Friday condemning any extremists or terrorists who would attack North America.
"These attacks are evil and Islam requires ... Muslims to stand up against this evil," says the fatwa, or religious guideline.
"As Canadian and American Muslims we should stand together against this terrorism and extremism," said Calgary Imam Syed Soharwardy.
"We should see these attacks not just on a country where the majority of people are not Muslims, but we should see these attacks as on Muslims as well."
The fatwa says religious leaders have a duty to show others around the world that Muslims in Canada and the U.S. have complete freedom to practise Islam, and to pray five times a day and take part in all Islam traditions and festivals.
"In many cases, Muslims have more freedom to practise Islam here in Canada and the United States than (in) many Muslim countries," it reads.
Soharwardy said he began working on the wording of the fatwa two weeks ago after hearing that the attempted plane bomber has been tied to radical Islamic groups.
Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab pleaded not guilty Friday to charges that he tried to blow up the packed Detroit-bound airliner on Christmas Day.
Authorities say the Nigerian man was travelling from Amsterdam when he tried to destroy the plane carrying nearly 300 people by injecting chemicals into a package of explosives concealed in his underwear.
U.S. officials have said he told FBI investigators that al-Qaida operatives in Yemen gave him the material and trained him in how to use it.
The arrest brought back painful memories of 9-11 and have once again cast suspicion on Muslims when it comes to air travel, said Soharwardy.
He decided to issue the message as a fatwa because many consider the missives binding, he said. While aimed at Muslims, the text also speaks to others, he added.
"This is against our religion, and the people in the Muslim community, wherever they live in this world," Soharwardy said of the imams' message. "if they are committing these crimes in the name of Islam, they are dead wrong."
The fatwa concludes that Muslims must therefore expose any person, no matter what their religious background, who plans harm to fellow Canadians or Americans.
It was signed by imams from Calgary, Montreal, Vancouver, various Ontario cities and Houston, and Soharwardy said he has since heard from many others who also support the idea.
The national president of the Canadian Islamic Congress said there is much debate on when a fatwa should be issued.
Wahida Valiante said she's not sure whether such a decree was necessary in this case, but added that the fatwa touches on the importance of watching for signs of negative ideologies.
"We do have a part to play as citizens of Canada and as Muslims, that we do our best to make sure that no radicalization or extreme views are allowed to escape," she said.
"If anybody attacks us, Muslim or non-Muslim, we are all Canadians here, we will all be hurt."

Organizations: Canadian and American Muslims, FBI, Al-Qaida Canadian Islamic Congress

Geographic location: Canada, United States, CALGARY North America Detroit Amsterdam Yemen Montreal Vancouver Ontario Houston

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