November 24, 2014 5:47 pm
Updated: November 24, 2014 7:46 pm

Inside an Ottawa mosque’s fight against radicalism


WATCH:  In the wake of attacks carried out by apparent homegrown radicals, leading Muslim leaders across Canada are asking what they can do to steer people away from extremism. The leaders of an Ottawa mosque open about the challenge they face. Vassy Kapelos reports.

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OTTAWA – Two days after Michael Zehaf-Bibeau killed Cpl. Nathan Cirillo and then stormed Parliament Hill, Mohammed Mostefa gave a sermon at the Assunnah Muslims Association mosque in Ottawa denouncing any activities that hurt Canadians.

The alleged reaction from one regular member of the congregation to the sermon shocked the room.

According to Mostefa, Luqman Abdunnur stood up in the middle of the room and called Bibeau a shaheed, which in Arabic means “martyr.”

“I’m not exaggerating that half of the congregation stood up, the reaction was so negative from the congregation – we were scared that they might assault him,” he said.

READ MORE: Slim chance’ of Ottawa shooter making his way into Centre Block today: security expert

Mostefa says another member of the congregation – a police officer – took Abdunnur to the side and tried to calm him while the authorities were called.

“Right away after that incident…I stood up and talked to the congregation: ‘This is the policy of this centre’,” Mostefa said.

The next day Abdunnur was pulled over in his car, just a few minutes from the Ottawa mosque.

Ottawa Police say he was combative, and assaulted an officer.

Abdunnur was arrested and faces charges of obstructing and assaulting a police officer.

His lawyer, Peter Beach, says Abdunnur hasn’t been charged with anything in relation to the alleged incident at the mosque.

His arrest comes as questions about what mosques are and aren’t doing to stop radicalization have made their way to Parliament Hill.

On Monday, at a heated Senate national defence and security committee meeting, the controversial founder of the Muslim Canadian Congress claimed all mosques aren’t doing enough.

“Imams should stand up and say Jihad is…inapplicable in Muslim discourse. You can’t say I’m against this violence but jihad, it’s ok,” Tarek Fatah said.

Sen. Grant Mitchell took issue with Fatah’s comments, claiming he was generalizing that all mosques are preaching extremism.

“Have you been to every mosque in the country that you say is preaching on Friday…a prayer that talks about a battle with non-Muslim people?” Mitchell asked.

Fatah replied: “I resent the fact that you implicated me as an Islamophobe…that is exactly what politicians like you do to silence us.”

The committee’s chair quickly ended the session.

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