Montreal: A Canadian imam known for his pacifist sermons warned on Friday that Islamist militant group Islamic state of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) was actively recruiting in Canada and said one member issued him a death threat.
Syed Soharwardy, founder of the Islamic Supreme Council of Canada (ISCC), called on Canadian and Western authorities to intensify the fight against Islamist movements.
“Absolutely I am convinced that this recruitment is going on right here in this country, under our noses, in our universities, in our colleges, in the places of worship, in our community,” he told CBC public television.
Soharwardy added that a Muslim man from Ottawa who was fighting with Isil in Mosul in northern Iraq had sent him a death threat on Facebook.
“He was condemning me for condemning Isil, and he was saying that ‘You are a deviant imam and your version of Islam is not the right version,’” Soharwardy said, using another acronym by which Isil is known.
The Calgary-based imam said such threats were nothing new.
“I get death threats from everybody,” he said, adding that “just last month I had a death threat posted on a website”.
In February, intelligence services said at least 130 Canadians were fighting with Isil in Iraq and Syria.
“Three young Calgarian fellows died in Iraq and Syria fighting for Isil. One of them was known to me,” he said.
“These people are brainwashing people here in this country,” he added.
Soharwardy also began a 48-hour hunger strike “to create awareness about the dangerous nature of Isil” and pay homage to American journalist James Foley, who was executed by his jihadist captors in a video released on Tuesday by Isil.
Isil declared itself a “caliphate” in late June and has since added a swath of northern Iraq to territory it already held in eastern Syria. The move has prompted a US campaign of air raids backing regional Kurdish and Iraqi forces fighting Isil in the country’s north.