Muslim Council Of Montreal Pleased That Dr. Mohamed Elmasry Will Not Resign From CIC Presidency
Calls for Muslim Unity During Sacred Month of Fasting
Montreal Oct 29, 2004 - (MCM Media Communiqué): The Muslim Council Of Montreal (MCM) is pleased to hear the announcement that Dr. Mohamed Elmasry's offer of resignation from the Presidency of the Canadian Islamic Congress (CIC) has been rejected by CIC's board of directors and that he will remain in his position.
In an October 27th CIC media communiqué Dr. Elmasry is quoted as saying: "I sincerely apologize for the way I expressed myself last week on The Michael Coren Show and I offer my resignation. I also offer my apology for the distress I caused to my family, to the University of Waterloo, to the CIC Board, members and friends. I apologize for any public remarks I made which offended Canada's Muslim, Jewish, Palestinian, and Arab communities and Canadians at large."
He further stated that: "It has always been a core belief of mine that killing civilians -- any civilians, for any cause -- is an immoral act of the worst kind and I will never change in this conviction."
In response to Dr. Elmasry's decision, MCM President Salam Elmenyawi stated that "In the close to 30 years that Dr. Elmsary has tirelessly worked for the Muslim community in this country he has made many valuable contributions and spoken out on numerous social and political issues which are near and dear to the Muslim community and the Canadian population at large."
Some of those issues Dr. Elmasry has worked on, as outlined in the CICs' October 27th communiqué, include issues of social justice in Canada, the rights of senior citizens', the elimination of child poverty, the crisis of homelessness, right of access to free universal health care and education, and for the protection of basic human rights of all. In addition Dr. Elmasry has worked on numerous civil rights issues nationally and internationally and has been actively involved in anti-hate and anti-discrimination campaigns.
"As a result of his work," stated Elmenyawi, "Dr. Elmasry is a highly respected Muslim leader and three decades of work should not be forgotten in all the discussion surrounding his remarks on the Michael Coren show on October 19th."
"Furthermore," stated Elmenyawi, "due to his years of work Dr. Elmasry has solid credibility in the eyes of the vast majority of Canada's Muslim community and those who are speaking in the name of Canadian Muslims to the media and attacking Dr. Elmasry's person and character are the ones who in fact lack credibility in our community despite the media's attempt to make it appear that they do."
Elmenyawi also stated that he was critical of media coverage of this incident as it smacks of a vendetta against Dr. Elmasry due to his critical comments of the Canadian media's coverage of Islam and Muslims.
"It is almost as if the media commentators are wringing their hands with glee over this incident," stated Elmenyawi.
To support his argument he noted the Globe and Mail's call for Dr. Elmsary to resign from his post and also Rosie Dimmano's bitter and somewhat spiteful October 27th article in the Toronto Star entitled "Elmasry hanged by his own words." Some time ago Dr. Elmasry filed a compliant against Dimanno with the Ontario Press Council over a racist anti Palestinian remark in which she described how hatred among Palestinians is "bred in the bone" in one of her columns, and he won the case. Note her hyperbolic words:
"His comments will further stoke the suspicions of those who view Muslims as somehow more intrinsically disposed toward violence, no matter how many times we're reminded that Islam is a great religion of peace and tolerance, despite the corruption of its core tenets by some jihadist elements."
And note Michael Coren's October 26th op-ed in the Toronto Sun where he gloats: "In this case, it seems it is not the media or some anti-Muslim fanatic who has shamed Muslims but the leader of the Canadian Islamic Congress himself."
(Read Dimanno's and Coren's op-eds at: http://www.montrealmuslimnews.net/dimanno.htm )
"It would seem that the media is seeking to exonerate itself over accusations that it has an anti-Muslim, anti-Islamic bias and that in his work with CIC, Dr. Elmasry has exposed this bias and the media is using this incident as a pay-back," stated Elmenyawi.
"Although the media has demanded apologies from Dr. Elmasry the Muslim community daily waits for apologies from the media over its consistent anti-Muslim, anti-Arab bias, as pointed out by CIC's media work, and this type of coverage has fostered a climate of hate and intolerance within Canadian society against our community," Elmenyawi further stated.
Elmenyawi cautioned the media to exercise restraint on this issue as it could fuel further accusations that the media is only interested in painting the Muslim community in a negative light and using this incident as a smokescreen to draw attention away from the consistent anti-Muslim bias in the Canadian news media- which in turn fuels anti-Muslim and anti-Arab hatred in the general population.
He also stated that "the unrelenting attacks on Dr. Elmasry and calls for him to resign will be perceived by the Muslim community as bashing of Canadian Muslim leaders."
"The media and those who are sharply criticising Dr. Elmasry are, unfortunately, not forgiving when it comes to mistakes made by a Muslim leader even when the mistake is followed up with a very sincere apology," stated Elmenyawi.
Elmenyawi noted that Dr. Elmasry has worked hard at building bridges of co-operation and mutual understanding between the Muslim, Jewish and Christian communities, including making a special effort to support the Jewish community when a Jewish school library was attacked here in Montreal.
"The media's and other group's continued attacks on Dr. Elmasry threatens the good relationship and the bridges between communities that has been built over the years," stated Elmenyawi.
"We should all accept his apology, close this chapter and move forward in fostering better relations between the various communities in Canada, as failure to do so may cause further divisions and unnecessary misunderstandings and unwelcome divisions" he further said.
MCM calls on all Muslims and people of conscience to remember Dr. Elmasry, his family and CIC with their well-wishes or prayers during this trying time, and to send him notes of support to: email@example.com
MCM also calls for unity between all Islamic organizations across Canada during this sacred month of fasting and to remember the words of the Qur'an which says: "And hold fast, all together, by the rope of Allah, and be not divided among yourselves...."(3:103).
MCM is an umbrella organization representing over 40 Muslim institutions in the Montreal region. There are over 125,000 Muslims in Montreal, about 700, 000 in Canada, and 1.5 billion worldwide.
For further information please contact: Salam Elmenyawi, President of the Muslim Council of Montreal - P.O.Box 5286 St-Laurent Stn, St-Laurent, H4L 4Z8 Phone: 514 748 8427 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org