As the shock of Canada’s brush with an alleged Al Qaeda-directed terror plot recedes, it’s comforting to learn that a prominent Toronto Muslim cleric played a key role in foiling the attack. More than a year ago he alerted the authorities to someone he felt was an extremist who was radicalizing young people.
That speaks to something very Canadian: The sense that we can count on each other to do the right thing for the wider community, that we are all in this together. The VIA Rail passenger trains that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police say the alleged plotters had in their sights might just as easily have been carrying innocent Muslim passengers as anyone else. The imam who spoke up was motivated by a sense of civic duty and a concern for human life — values the vast majority of Canada’s 650,000 Muslims share with their neighbours, but for which they are not always given credit.
Recently, much attention has focused on radicalism among Muslim youth, following reports that the RCMP is investigating Canadians at the forefront of terror attacks in Algeria and Somalia that left scores dead. And the “Toronto 18” also planned carnage here. The problem is undeniably a real one. But it’s far from being the entire story.
“Since 9/11 the Muslim community has been working very closely with government agencies, including the RCMP and police forces,” says Yusuf Badat, an imam and director of religious affairs for the Islamic Foundation of Toronto.
Or as another Toronto Muslim leader, Muhammad Robert Heft, put it, Canada is “our country . our tribe. We want safety for all Canadians regardless of their religion.”
The Star, Toronto