Horror of Canadian Parliament Shooting
The Muslim Public Affairs Council condemns the criminal behavior and actions committed by Michael Zehaf-Bibeau on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Canada. MPAC offers its condolences to the family members of Cpl. Nathan Cirrillo and victims who were injured during the heinous attack by Zehaf-Bibeau. We stand in solidarity with the Canadian people who are horrified by the vicious attacks.
This tragedy presents an opportunity for North American Muslim communities to take leadership in ensuring continued education about Islam, especially for the most impressionable and vulnerable in our communities: young people and converts. Young people who are fed misinformation online by violent extremists must be engaged in healthy conversations in safe spaces within our schools and mosques to minimize any chance of being lured into false promises of glory. As far as converts are concerned, Dr. Maher Hathout said: “It is paradoxical because most who convert to Islam have a positive change in their life that makes them compassionate, calming, contributors to society. However, the aggregation of these few cases are a cause for alarm and create a false impression about Islam and Muslims.”
Zehaf-Bibeau was a known troubled individual with a criminal history who recently converted to Islam. We must continue to educate the community and others who are interested in Islam that while this and other incidents are isolated, there is no justification within the faith that would allow such immoral and criminal behavior. Further, Zehaf-Bibeau’s troubled history highlights the need for communities to have structured education, prevention, intervention and rehabilitation programs that focus on mental health, religious and counseling services. It is imperative that communities work in close coordination with law enforcement and government agencies to address some of these challenges faced by communities to ensure the public safety for all.