Canadian Muslims during prayer.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
An organization called Muslims Against Terrorism has launched an ad-campaign in Toronto aimed at pushing back against Islamic radicalism and a growing tide of anti-Muslim sentiment, the Toronto Sun reported Monday.
Led by local Imam Steve Rockwell, whose appearances on TV and radio broadcasts have made him a recognizable figure in recent debates over the place of Islam in Canadian society, the campaign has focused on expressing the dedication of Canadian Muslims to the security of their country and compatriots.
One advertisement, appearing on a Canadian subway platform reads: “Any Muslim who hurts Canada or a Canadian is an enemy of Islam. ”
It then goes on to say that “We, the Muslims of Canada, want you the Canadian to know that we will watch your back. We will do whatever it takes to guarantee your safety.”
In an interview, Rockwell outlined an active approach that he believes his fellow Muslims should adopt.
“I think Muslims in this country should not sit back and let the twisted view of Islam fly,” said Rockwell, referring to previous acts of violence associated with Islamic extremism that struck Canada last year.
In 2014, Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, a 32-year-old Canadian of Libyan origin and with a criminal record, shot and killed a Canadian soldier, Corporal Nathan Cirillo, who was on ceremonial duty at the Canadian National War Memorial.
Two days earlier, Martin Couture-Rouleau, a Muslim convert had rammed his car into two soldiers in Quebec, killing one.
The two attacks were followed by incidents of vandalism on mosques and Islamic buildings that isolated Canadian Muslims, prompting organizations like the Muslim Association of Canada to issue statements condemning the attacks and rebuking groups like the Islamic State and al-Qaida who reportedly inspired the two attackers.
“If we see or hear of somebody going to join ISIS or commit and act of terrorism, we’ll call (the authorities),” Rockwell remarked, reaffirming the connection between such foreign organizations and the mindset of those who emulate them at home, but distancing both from the mainstream.
For now the campaign is limited to two signs featured in respective subway stations in the city, however Rockwell, if response to the initiative proves positive, suggested that he would continue to spread the his message of unity.
“We’re here to protect. It is no pleasure to the Muslim community when a Canadian is hurt.”