A Canadian imam known for his pacifist sermons said on Friday that extremist militant group known as the Islamic State (IS), formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, was actively recruiting in Canada and said one member threatened to kill him.
Syed Soharwardy, founder of the Islamic Supreme Council of Canada, called on Canadian and other Western authorities to intensify the fight against extremist 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 the Canadian Broadcasting Corp public television station.
Soharwardy added that a Muslim man from Ottawa who was fighting with IS in Mosul in northern Iraq had sent him a death threat on Facebook.
“He was condemning me for condemning ISIS, 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 IS has been 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 Web site.”
In February, intelligence services said at least 130 Canadians were fighting with IS in Iraq and Syria.
“Three Calgarian young fellows died in Iraq and Syria fighting for ISIS. One of them was very 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 ISIS” and pay homage to US journalist James Foley, who was executed by his extremist captors in a video released on Tuesday last week by the Islamic State.
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