DOLLARD-DES-ORMEAUX – Souhayebe Hoblos is a 22-year-old Canadian who prays regularly at the Canadian Islamic Centre Al-Jameih.
Like many other Canadian Muslims, he watched the events unfolding this week with a combination of horror and disappointment.
“Religion is about peace, it’s not about war,” he said.
“We’re doing our best to show the best of us.”
Hoblos said he hadn’t felt any sort of Islamophobic backlash as a result of two attacks that claimed the lives of two Canadian soldiers in Ottawa and Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu.
But it’s something that McGill professor Rex Brynen warns about.
“I think it’s very important that we don’t fall into the trap of Islamophobia,” he said.
“We certainly know in the Saint-Jean case for example that the imam was talking to family, was talking to the RCMP, to try to pull back the radicalization. That’s exactly what should be happening. The problem is it’s not always going to work.”
According to Statistics Canada, there are slightly more than one million Muslims living in Canada.
In the wake of the attacks, the Imam Council of Canada issued a statement condemning them.
“Those who did it are outside the teachings of the divine religions,” the statement reads.
“these acts don’t have anything to do with religions or morals.”
Haroun Bouazzi is the head of an organization of Arabs and Muslims that support a secular society.
Islamophobia is a top concern of his.
“What we’re scared of is that people are going to mix up whoever claims he is committing a crime in the name of Islam and the everyday Muslim who is just trying to go to work and have a normal life,” he said.
Bouazzi also expressed concern that in these attacks the public has been slow to talk about issues of mental illness and is concentrating on the religion of the perpetrators.
“It’s always weird to see, as a Muslim, when someone does something totally insane that we’re not talking about illness,” he said.