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An Open Letter From Some Muslims Who Love Canada and Human Rights

10/20/2014 06:02 EDT | Updated 12/21/2014 05:59 EST
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Dear Fellow Canadians:

On Tuesday, October 7 the Harper government voted for military action against ISIS/ISIL notwithstanding all opposition parties opposed it.

We agree that ISIS/ISIL is committing atrocities in the Middle East and has killed and caused to flee from their homes thousands of religious minorities, including Christians and Yazidis, as well as Shia Muslims and ethnic Kurds (many of whom are Sunni Muslims). It has also killed numerous Sunni Muslims who have refused to accept their ideology.

We do not accept that actions of ISIS/ISIL as having any foundation in Islam and regard its members as heinous criminals.

We believe that the world must support the work of activists and opponents of ISIS/ISIL, who are in the region, on the ground.

We believe that opposition against ISIS/ISIL must come from within the region and not from outside.

We are concerned that western military action which ends up killing innocent civilians will be used by ISIS/ISIL for the purpose of recruitment and will allow ISIS/ISIL to more easily conceal the gruesome truth that it is killing numerous innocent Sunni Muslims as well as others.

We are concerned that Canada may become further targeted by extremists and that Canadians, including members of our armed forces and our police, may be placed in greater danger as a result of the October 7th vote.

We call upon our government to reconsider its plan for military action and instead focus on efforts to:

- Insist on trading partners and coalition members in the region create, strengthen and enforce laws that promote universal human rights and end the funding of terrorist organizations including ISIS/ISIL .

- Insist on the freedom of human rights defenders in the region, such as Waleed Abulkhair, Mikhlif al-Shammari and Raif Badawi in Saudi Arabia, Abdul Hadi Khawaja in Bahrain, and journalists, including Canadian Mohamed Fahmy and Australian, Peter Greste in Egypt and others.

- Abide by promises to provide asylum in Canada for refugees from the region and concede to the UN request to expand the number of refugees to be allowed into Canada, as well as allowing for source country and regional refugee processing.

- Support programs at home to deter youth from joining terrorist organizations.

We cannot fight fire with fire. We must not fuel terrorism with the very violence it expects, awaits and welcomes.

Far from fearing death, terrorists embrace it. While a military response can kill terrorists, it cannot destroy their ideology.

But that ideology can be defeated by supporting human rights in Muslim countries. There is no Islam in ISIS/ISIL and there is no Islam in any place where there is no mercy nor compassion.

Humanity comes first.

Salaams/Shalom/Peace/Paix.

Shahla Khan Salter - Universalist Muslims, Director and Canada West Coordinator

Dr. Junaid Jahangir - Universalist Muslims, Canada East Coordinator

El-Farouk Khaki - El-Tawhid Juma Circle, Coordinating Imam

Imam Syed Soharwardy - Islamic Supreme Council of Canada and Muslims Against Terrorism

Upon receiving notice of this open letter if you wish to add your organization's name to it please email us at universalistmuslims@gmail.com

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