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Jewish group criticizes Minister's decision cancelling invitation to prominent Imam

October 13, 2010

October 14, 2010

Statement in support of Imam Zijad Delic

Jewish group criticizes Minister's decision cancelling invitation to Imam

Independent Jewish Voices condemns the decision by Defence Minister Peter MacKay to cancel an invitation to Imam Zijad Delic, National Executive Director of the Canadian Islamic Congress, to speak at a defence department conference on October 4, 2010. The talk was to be part of a celebration of Islamic Heritage Month, focusing on tolerance and understanding. Minister MacKay’s cancellation is an act which sends a message of intolerance and prejudice against a community. In addition, it exhibits a remarkable insensitivity and disrespect in its treatment of this individual.

Dr. Delic declared that he was “saddened to receive the news of its cancellation not directly from the Department of National Defence, but through a reporter.” He has explained that his intentions have always been “to improve all Canadians’ understanding of Islam and of Muslims’ relationships to the greater society of our nation, respecting Canada’s Charter of Rights and the rule of law.”

Dr. Delic's dedication is to bringing communities together in order to dispel prejudice and misunderstanding. In 2004, he initiated a joint meeting of Muslim and Jewish leaders in British Columbia. He has conducted dialogues with representatives of the Catholic, Anglican, and with Presbyterian and United Churches. In addition, he has given lectures to the RCMP National Security Unit, to CSIS and to DFAIT.

In “A Tribute to Imam Zijad”, delivered to House of Commons, Canadian M.P. Bill Siksay made the following statement: “Imam Delic is known here at home and internationally for his commitment to interfaith dialogue and peaceful conflict resolution. Like many people in Burnaby, I attended his Islam 101 lectures at the Burnaby mosque. Imam Delic has encouraged women and men, young people and recent immigrants in the Muslim community to take their place in Canadian society. This week, the Minister of National Defence and the government tarnished the reputation of this good man. The minister must offer a full apology. Imam Delic is known as 'the people's imam'. I am proud to know him, to work with him and to call him 'my imam'.”

Dr. Delic has made available the speech he was planning to give to the defence department conference in which he explains that Muslims first arrived in Canada in the 19th century and have made “significant moves toward embracing and adapting to a liberal democratic society.” The speech raises critical points about the implications of religious freedom in a secular state and the relation of individual to the collective. Delic makes reference to Islamic scholars as well as to sociologists Max Weber and Emile Durkheim to address questions related to citizenship and responsibility, declaring that achieving a cooperative modern society is a two-way process in which both Muslims and the Canadian government must analyze and support the integration and active engagement of people from diverse cultures and faiths in a secular society.

Independent Jewish Voices believes that Minister McKay's actions raise important questions about prejudice, intolerance, and ignorance in Canada. We believe that Dr. Delic should be emulated, not castigated.


For further information, please contact
Judy Deutsch (416) 929-8180

Independent Jewish Voices – Canada is a national organization that promotes a just resolution to the conflict in Israel and Palestine through the application of international law and respect for the human rights of all parties. IJV has chapters in Halifax, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Hamilton, Winnipeg, Saskatoon and Vancouver.

For more information contact:
Judy Deutsch
Member, National Steering Committee
Independent Jewish Voices
Phone: 416-929-8180
Cell: 416-929-8180

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