Attackers ‘hijacked our religion,’ say Imams

Watch above: Montreal’s Muslim community speak out to condemn the acts of terror in Ottawa and Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu. Reporter Billy Shields has more.

MONTREAL – The Ahmadi Muslim Community in Montreal held a news conference Sunday denouncing the attacks of the previous week, and called for closer vetting of converts.

“It’s very important to go through a process,” said Ishaq Fonseca, an imam.

Fonseca himself is a convert, having adopted the religion about 20 years ago.

“When someone comes to you and says ‘I want to join the community,’ we have to be honest with them and explain what their getting into,” he said.

Questions continue to surface about the backgrounds of the two attackers, something the Ahmadi Muslim community points to as a greater concern than the religion the two men shared.

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Michael Zehaf-Bibeau and Martin Couture-Rouleau “took the religion by hijack,” Fonseca said.

“They completely distorted the understanding, they took it completely out of context.”

There are several members of the St-Michel community who are converts, such as Eric Fransen, who turned to Islam from Catholicism.

When the attacks occurred, Fransen said that he was shocked, adding that “it’s always strange to hear that it’s happening in the country you’re living in.”

He adds that he was surprised to hear that two converts to the religion were involved.

“It made me wonder how he went through this process,” said Fransen.

Federal law enforcement officials had placed both alleged attackers on watch lists of radicalized Muslims.

Since the attacks, significant and troubling personal issues has also surfaced.

“These soldiers have dedicated their lives to saving their country, and they were being attacked in the name of Islam,” said Luqman Ahmed, a Quebec City imam who was in Montreal for the news conference.

“The religion of Islam does not permit any such act.”

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