Ottawa Muslim Association receives hateful message following ‘misleading and false’ news story
“The Ottawa Muslim Association is a valuable organization in our city. We have seen time and time again, its congregants work for the betterment of our communities in a variety of ways, including through blood clinics, food drives, and other important initiatives. Imam Samy Metwally is a prominent and respectable community leader who has been a strong proponent of interfaith dialogue and who has spoken out repeatedly to condemn violent extremism. He was also among the first faith leaders to approach my office regarding the need to develop an Ottawa based response to the Syrian refugee crisis. The OMA should be commended for its positive efforts.”
Mayor Jim WatsonCity of Ottawa
“Imam Metwally is known to me through the leadership role he plays on the Ottawa Interfaith Community. He has always welcomed our officers to the mosque and has been very warm and inviting when OMA have hosted the annual Iftar dinner during Ramadan. This opportunity to break bread and extend the OMA’s commitments towards supporting officers in their various roles in the community helps foster trust and build bridges between law enforcement and the Muslim community.
I would like to take this opportunity to remind you that the Ottawa Police Service has established a strong relationship with the OMA for many years and this extends to its Imam, whom we have known to be of good character, a trusted community partner and a valuable resource.”
Charles Bordeleau Chief of Police, Ottawa Police Service
“I have had the pleasure working with Imam Samy Metwally at the Capital Region Interfaith Council. He is humble, trusted leader who works tirelessly to create understanding and build friendships between diverse religion leaders within the Ottawa community.
Ottawa is blessed to have a religious institution like the Ottawa Muslim Association and a religious leader like Imam Samy Metwally to help build bridges of understanding between Muslims and the Wider Ottawa Community, especially at a time when so many seem to want to divide us.”
Diversity and Race Relations Section , Ottawa Police Service
“The Ottawa Mosque, and its imam Samy Metwally, have been important community partners in our neighbourhood for years. I’m deeply troubled at the insinuations contained in the recent Toronto Sun article. I’d like to take this opportunity to express my support for Imam Metwally and the Ottawa Mosque. Articles such as these can do only harm by reinforcing hateful and ignorant stereotypes. My commitment, as always, is to encourage the dialogue, cooperation, and common efforts towards tolerance and peace that I have always known Imam Metwally, the Muslim community in Ottawa and the residents of our neighbourhood to espouse.”
Councillor, Kitchissippi Ward, City of Ottawa
“Many members of the United Church in Ottawa were saddened to hear that the Ottawa Mosque and Imam Metwally have been subjected to false and irresponsible allegations in a recent Toronto Sun article, but we are outraged to learn that since this article was published the Mosque has been the target of at least one hateful and directly threatening message.
We stand with Imam Metwally and the Ottawa Muslim Association in rejecting the allegations contained in the Toronto Sun article and unequivocally condemn any hateful or threatening words or actions that may have been encouraged by that article. Imam Metwally is well-known as an advocate for peace and good relations between faithful Muslims and all other Canadians. We support and echo this message and ask all our Ottawa neighbours to embrace it.”
Rev. David SherwinPresbytery MinisterOttawa PresbyteryThe United Church of Canada
“The negative media response to our recent visit is in stark contrast to the incredible warmth and respect with which we were welcomed by Imam Samy Metwally and the worshippers, both women and men. The congregants at this mosque work for the betterment of our community in many ways, including inter-faith dialogue, blood clinics, food drives and other community-building initiatives.
I am proud to have been the first non-Muslim woman to address that same mosque in 2011, speaking from the front – which is essentially the pulpit. I spoke about inclusion, diversity and equality, and I have returned to speak many times since. I have received nothing but respect from mosque leaders, many of whom I consider allies in and champions of progressive change.”
United Muslim Organizations of Ottawa-Gatineau (UMO-OG)
“We, the Canadian Council of Imams, are deeply concerned by the allegations of terror connections made against Imam Samy Metwally and the Ottawa Muslim Association (OMA) mosque published in the Sun news article by Anthony Furey. Imam Samy Metwally is an active Ottawa community member and leader of interfaith dialogue among Ottawa faith communities.
The serious nature of these allegations has now resulted in threats against Metwally and the OMA. This comes at a time when the number of police reported hate crimes targeting Canadians of Muslim faith has doubled over a three year period, despite a drop in the total number of hate crimes. This week a man was charged with arson at a Hamilton Mosque.
Newspapers have a responsibility not to fan the flames of Islamophobia or intolerance towards any religion. This is an example of unacceptable characterization that puts at risk the safety of a religious worker and thousands of men, women and children who regularly worship at this mosque.
We acknowledge the newspaper including a clarification from the OMA in its subsequent article. We would urge all media to demonstrate more caution on the impact of its reporting on communities at risk.
The CCI have repeatedly condemned terrorism and, as stated in our declaration, emphasize our belief in peaceful coexistence, dialogue, bridge building and cooperation among all faiths and people.”