Muslim Council Of Montreal Says Recent Attempts At Dialogue Over Cartoon Issue A Success

February 14, 2006

Montreal Feb 13, 2006: In response to the printing of 12 offensive cartoons by various European newspapers and elsewhere, various local Islamic organizations and centers recently came together to form the Muslim Coordinating Committee for Justice with a view to providing an appropriate response based upon our Islamic values as taught to us in the Quran and the example of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).

"Hast thou not noticed how God has struck a similitude of a good word; it is like a good tree whose root is firm and whose branch is in the heaven; it brings forth its fruit all the time by the leave of its Lord; God strikes similitudes for men that they may pay heed. And the similitude of an evil word is like an evil tree, uprooted over the earth, having no stability." (Quran 14:24-26)

"It may well be that God will bring about love (and friendship) between you and those with whom you are now at odds." (Quran 60:7)

"It is by Allah's grace that you deal gently with them. Had you been harsh and hard- hearted, they would surely have broken away from you. Therefore pardon them and pray for forgiveness for them and consult with them in the conduct of public affairs. When you have resolved about a course of action, put your trust in Allah. Allah loves those who put their trust in Him." (Quran 3:159)

The Muslim Council Of Montreal considers the efforts of the committee, which included press conferences, several media appearances, handing out information pamphlets on the life and character of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), Mosque open houses and public dialogues, to be a tremendous success. In fact, MCM is pleased to announce that over the weekend the Muslim community has welcomed two new Muslims into the fold of Islam. Also on Saturday, during an open house at the Ottawa Muslim Association Mosque, a gentleman publicly embraced Islam in front of a crowd of about 200 people.

"We find these types of public dialogues to be very constructive and they go a long way towards fostering goodwill between the Muslim community and the wider society, as well as projecting a positive image of our faith," stated MCM President Salam Elmenyawi.

Elmenyawi stated that "for Muslims, the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is the ultimate example of character and restraint in the face of opposition and hostility."

Elmenyawi explained that the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) had many enemies during his lifetime and he was verbally abused and physically attacked many times. However, he never responded harshly to any of his critics and actually prayed for them. In fact, his good character won over many of his former enemies who went on to be great heroes in Islamic history.

"We do very much appreciate the goodwill of those who have attended our events or sent us letters of well wishes," stated Elmenyawi.

"We look forward to continuing a dialogue with our fellow Canadians on the cartoon and many other issues in a spirit of mutual respect and tolerance," he stated.

MCM encourages members of the Muslim community to continue with these dialogues and resist the urge to respond harshly to those who would seek to insult or provoke, especially in radio phone-in shows where many hosts seek to incite and insult in order to illicit a response.

"The best way to honour the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is to follow his noble example and be gentle with the people and to just leave those who are argumentative alone" stated Elmenyawi.

Elmenyawi stated he was pleased that beginning tomorrow, the Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-CAN) will begin a North American-wide educational campaign about the life and legacy of the Prophet, Muhammad (peace be upon him). The campaign is being done in cooperation with CAIR-CAN’s independent sister organization in the U.S, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), and will cover both Canada and the U.S.

"Based upon my understanding of the teachings of Islam I feel this effort would meet with the Prophet's approval," he said.