The National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) has loudly condemned the killing of Nathan Cirillo in Ottawa by a suspected jihadist this week, laying a wreath at the National War Memorial where he was killed and expressing anger at the use of Islam to promote violence.
Executive Director Ihsaan Gardee told assembled press that the message of the group was clear: they were Canadians and wholly rejected violence disguised as promotion of Islamic values. “Our message to anyone who believes in violent extremist ideologies is that you have nothing to do with Islam. … You have nothing to do with the noble principles of our faith, which categorically condemn the taking of innocent life.” The NCCM also posted a statement on its website decrying attacks as based on a “gross perversion of the Islamic faith.”
Other individual leaders from the Muslim community added their words of solidarity to the group. Sheikh Abdallah Obeid of Ottawa told the press that his congregation is “backing up our Prime Minister, Mr. Harper, as well as the cabinet, to stop all terrorist acts, as we believe in our faith that we have to stop all kinds of acts of terrorist.” The Sheikh added, “We are proud of our men standing up and protecting and standing guard of Parliament.”
Another community leader, Imam Sikander Hashmi of the Kanata Muslim Association, told Canada’s CBC that, during a meeting of community imams, “There was a lot of unanimous sadness around the table as well as disbelief and perhaps even some anger,” adding, “I am definitely feeling angry.” He went on to say that there is also concern of a backlash against Muslims triggered by both this attack and other recent incidents.
The NCCM has not had a completely agreeable relationship with the conservative Harper administration, as Harper’s director of communications previously accused the group of having ties to the Hamas Palestinian terror organization. (The NCCM does have ties to the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a group for which there is ample evidence of ties to Hamas.) The NCCM is not the only group coordinating a public Muslim response to what appears to be a violent Islamist attack.