RIS January 2004 – RCMP commissioner Zaccardelli, and Toronto Mayor Miller Talk security with Munir el-Kassem, leader of Libyan terror-funding WICS; Toronto Police Chief Fantino speaks at another session
Author: Neco Cockburn
Source: The Toronto Star, January 3, 2004, p. B1
Original title: RCMP chief vows to protect Muslims; Discrimination won’t be tolerated, he tells conference Mayor says Toronto won’t be governed by stereotypes
Canada’s RCMP commissioner told thousands of Muslims yesterday that they had faced discrimination since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. His force, he pledged, will treat any incidents as “serious criminal acts and they will not be tolerated.”
Giuliano Zaccardelli spoke during a lecture session at “Reviving the Islamic Spirit,” a Muslim conference that has drawn some 7,000 participants from across North America to the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. The conference began yesterday and runs until Sunday.
Zaccardelli, Toronto Mayor David Miller and Dr. Munir El-Kassem, acting imam of the Islamic Centre of Southwestern Ontario, spoke at a 50-minute session called “Muslim citizens in a secure Canada,” while Toronto police Chief Julian Fantino spoke at a later session.
“We should never forget that among those killed on Sept. 11 were hundreds of Muslims, and their families deserve more than suspicion and prejudice,” said Zaccardelli, who received a warm welcome from the crowd during a 25-minute speech in which he extolled the virtues of Canadian multiculturalism.
“Those who single out Muslims for unfair treatment or unjust accusations seek to sow hatred and division. That is their objective; it must not be their achievement.”
He later added that “the Royal Canadian Mounted Police will not tolerate racism and will not tolerate stereotyping.”
“Crime has no colour, it has no language or religion. How we enforce the law should not be influenced in any way by any of these issues. We must and we will seek to understand the unique challenges that newcomers face,” he said.
Miller told the crowd that “stereotypes are simply unacceptable and we will not allow our city to be governed, or the law to be enforced, based on stereotypes of people.”
El-Kassem urged fellow Muslims to maintain their faith.
“By strengthening our faith and becoming real Muslims, we will achieve … security, even though we may be swimming in an ocean of disaster and calamity.”
He said reaching out to others is another way to ensure the security of Canadian Muslims.
“Human beings will continue to fear the unknown. If you are living within a minority among a bigger Canadian community that you belong to, as long as they continue to not know who you are and what you represent, they will fear you.
“It is our own duty to do something about it, to become known and reach out to the people around us, and show them what real Islam is all about. We have nothing to hide…. We are peace-loving people, and crimes do not have a religious identity.”
Other speakers yesterday urged fellow Muslims to be increasingly aware of the environment, rail against materialism and take the teachings of the Qur’an to heart.
In a later session, Fantino said his police force had made significant strides in community policing and race relations.
“Is it perfect? No. I have to tell you that, be that as it may, I also realize that race relations and, in fact, human relations, is now and always will be a work in progress, where tolerance, respect and mutual understanding must prevail.”