Haroon Siddiqui's recent article in the Toronto Star (Islam vilified by a double standard, November 16, 2008) reflects a complete misunderstanding of the Canadian Somali community, which does not see the recent deplorable web site postings of a Canadian Somali mosque in the context of a freedom of speech debate. Rather most members of the Canadian Somali community see this incident for what it actually is - an unacceptable and inappropriate slur against other communities and a very serious departure from Canadian values. Canadian Somalis value the peace and tranquility that they continue to enjoy in Canada . We desire to live in harmony with other Canadians especially given the fact that we have experienced the results of a failed state and the attending consequences.
The community is embarrassed and saddened by these comments on the website and has been distancing itself from those remarks. In fact, respected elders and community leaders are planning to meet with mosque officials to voice their concerns over the inappropriate postings on the mosque's website. Siddiqui missed a wonderful opportunity to comment on the groundbreaking work in the Canadian Somali community to promote greater social cohesion. The recent announcement of an important joint mentoring initiative by the Canadian Somali Congress and the main Canadian Jewish organizations presented a wonderful model to the Canadian public of how diverse communities can embrace each other and work together to build stronger communities and a stronger Canada .
It is disappointing that Siddiqui chose to give a small group in the community such prominence when the larger Canadian Somali community is actively seeking to work with all Canadians to promote the integration of this relatively new diaspora and at risk community which has fled a civil war in their homeland. The articles regrettably cast the entire community in a negative light when ironically, ours is the Muslim community in Canada that is likely working hardest to build relationships with all Canadians including Christians and Jews. These relationships are crucial if Canadian Somalis are to successfully tackle the various challenges facing our community and Canadian society at large.
As Canadians we have a responsibility to avoid using any community, especially vulnerable ones, in any larger ideological fight. Aiding the creation of a negative and erroneous stereotype of the Canadian Somali community further harms us and necessarily compounds the difficulties we already face.
Canadian Somali Congress