Canadian Muslims for Peace organized gatherings in four cities across Ontario on January 31st to demonstrate a committment to peace, community, and civic engagement and to stand firmly against radicalization and violent extremism.
In Ottawa, community members gathered at the Canadian Tribute to Human Rights, popularly known as the Human Rights Monument. The Monument has become a rallying point for various groups in Ottawa when they wish to raise awareness about human rights issues in Canada and abroad.
In the wake of the shooting at Tanger Outlets on Boxing Day 2014 in Kanata, Imam Sikander Hashmi reached out to Muslim Link for help in organizing an information session about gangs in Ottawa. For many in the Kanata Muslim Association (KMA), this event brought home the reality of gangs in Ottawa for the first time. It also disturbed them because both the perpetrator and the victim were from Muslim backgrounds. However, for Muslims in other parts of Ottawa, in particular Ottawa-West, Ottawa-East, and Ottawa-South, the presence of gangs, and the disproportionate number of young Muslim men involved in them, has been a serious concern for years.
In a joint effort by KMA and Muslim Link, the Stop It: Gangs, Guns, and Drugs Information Session took place on January 16th 2015. Staff Sergeant Andrew Buchan from the Ottawa Police Service's Youth Section and Sharmaarke Abdullahi from Crime Prevention Ottawa (CPO) were invited to speak about their organization's efforts to address Ottawa's gang issue.
Imam Sikander Hashmi is the new imam in Kanata. Born and raised in Montreal, Imam Sikander is also a journalism graduate from Concordia University and a happily married father with two energetic children. He has written for the Toronto Star and Montreal Gazette, and has worked as an Imam in Kingston.