Debates of the Senate (Hansard)

1st Session, 38th Parliament,
Volume 142, Issue 85

Wednesday, July 20, 2005
The Honourable Daniel Hays, Speaker

London Bombings

Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer: I rise today knowing that all honourable senators will join me in offering our continuing support to the people of Great Britain and in sending our sympathies to those who have lost loved ones or suffered injuries in the bombings that occurred in London on July 7.

I stand before you as a Muslim Canadian. Canada has given my family and me asylum and has given my community and me a place to practice our faith and to participate fully in society. We proudly say that we are Canadian. Through marriage, I am also a British citizen. I was in London on July 7 while on my way to Sudan when these heinous acts were committed against innocent and unsuspecting civilians. The bombs exploded in places that I know well and frequented during my time as a university student in London. When I heard of the attacks, my thoughts turned immediately to my daughter who was working in London at the time. Though I knew it was unlikely that she was anywhere near where the attacks took place, as a parent I was overtaken at the thought of losing her. Like many around me, throughout London and across the world, my thoughts turned to my friends and family, and I hoped that they would be alright. However, the truth is that those who were injured and killed are also my family and friends in a larger sense. The attacks have caused great pain for all of us.

Canadians are deeply concerned with any act of terrorism. We feel the pain felt by all those who feel its effects as if it is our own. Four acts of terrorism stand out in the minds of many Canadians. The first is the bombing of Air India Flight 182, for which, sadly, Canadians of Indian origin are still thirsting for answers. The second is the attacks on Pennsylvania, Washington and New York on September 11, 2001, which we mourn collectively as a nation. The third is the attacks on the people of Madrid, Spain and now, the fourth, the bombings in London. Many have argued that it is religion, especially Islam that provided the motivation for the attacks. Some have said that there are two faces of Islam: peaceful and war-like. As a Muslim and Canadian who believes in harmony and mutual respect, I must reject this characterization. To quote my spiritual leader, the Aga Khan:

This just represents a very, very small minority of the world’s Muslim population. Also, these people are primarily driven by political and not religious motives. It would be wrong to consider them representative of Islam. The Western world has to take a close look to see which forces are in play in order to differentiate between belief and things that have nothing to do with belief.

We as Muslims could also ask the same things: like what’s happening in Northern Ireland. If I as a Muslim came to you and were to say: What’s happening in Northern Ireland reflects Catholic and Protestant beliefs, then would you say: you’re uneducated.

In a joint statement, 22 of Britain’s most respected Muslim Imams and scholars condemned the bombings. They said:

We are firmly of the view that these killings have absolutely no sanction in Islam, nor is there any justification whatsoever in our noble religion for such evil actions. It is our understanding that those who carried out the bombings in London should in no sense be regarded as martyrs.

If ever there was a time to build an integrated community where all are equal, it is now. I urge our government to seek answers to ease the pain of all those who have suffered from acts of terrorism and to launch a public inquiry into the Air India bombing to heal the wounds of the Indo-Canadian community.

Honourable senators, the attacks on innocent Londoners shocked the world. Canadians of all backgrounds are standing shoulder to shoulder with their British brothers and sisters in resisting terrorism and refusing to succumb to fear. Canadian Muslims want it on the record that these attacks have not been and should never be carried out in their name or in the name of their faith.