POLITICS

Muslim lawyer suspended from federal security panel over allegations

05/01/2015 09:22 EDT | Updated 05/01/2016 05:12 EDT
A Hamilton lawyer who is well regarded for his work in counselling young Muslims away from radicalization and violence has been suspended as a federal adviser on Muslim issues and security.

Minister of Public Safety Steven Blaney suspended Hussein Hamdani from the Cross-Cultural Roundtable on National Security. Blaney's office is looking into questions raised by the French TVA network about politically charged statements Hamdani made as a university student, and allegations that organizations Hamdani leads have in years past directly or indirectly contributed money to groups tied to terrorism.

"These allegations are very concerning," a spokesman for Blaney said in a statement sent to the CBC.

"This individual's membership on the Cross Cultural Roundtable on National Security has been suspended immediately pending a review of the facts. While questions surrounding this individual's links to radical ideology have circulated for some time, it was hoped that he could be a positive influence to promote Canadian values. It is now becoming clear this may not have been the case."

Hamdani did not immediately respond to calls for comment Friday morning, but in comments made to the Hamilton Spectator, he vehemently denied the allegations.

"I have long denied them and I continue to deny them," said Hamdani. "This is just an attempt to silence a prominent voice in the Muslim community."

The suspension is a blow to the reputation of a lawyer who has been a prominent Hamilton leader, considered a moderate voice on Muslim issues and whom a local business magazine named in its 40 under 40 roundup in 2012.  

Former Hamilton mayor Larry Di Ianni tweeted in support of Hamdani's work locally. 

The allegations

A news report Wednesday on French-language TVA said an organization that Hamdani co-founded, the Ihya Foundation, received money for a 2003 Canadian convention called "Reviving the Islamic Spirit" from the World Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY). Canada revoked that WAMY's Canadian affiliate's charitable status in 2012 after concluding the organization funded al-Qaeda, TVA reported. 

The report also alleged that organizations Hamdani led have directly or indirectly funded terrorist groups. 

Hamdani's contribution to a 1996 document for groups hoping to start a Muslim Student Association on their campus was titled "Islamization [sic] of campus politics."  He advocated for Muslim students to sway decisions on issues like same-sex marriage. 

"It is the duty of the MSA to bring morality back into the campus. For example, the Student Union should not have to debate over endorsing legislation in favor of same-sex benefits, this issue should clearly be seen as immoral and thus voted against or ignored."

Hamdani told the Spectator his views on that issue have evolved.

The document appears to have been originally circulated by French-Canadian Marc Lebuis, whose online magazine Point de Bascule, or the "Tipping Point," targets what it calls Islamist activities in Canada, particularly in Quebec.