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Toronto, Ontario – 4 December 2014
Thank you very much.
Good evening, everyone.
First of all, thank you Chris for those very kind words and also thanks to Dr. Daud for keeping us all organized this evening.
Greetings to Patrick Brown, also my colleague who is joining us here this evening.
Greetings also, most particularly to Lal Khan Malik, President of the Canadian Ahmadiyya community, and indeed all members of the community who have joined us here tonight.
I want to thank all of you for coming.
Now, ladies and gentlemen, I recall with great pleasure our last meeting with the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at Canada – that was more than a year ago – you hosted us as we announced that Canada would establish an office of religious freedom, headed by an ambassador.
It was a great day and I’m delighted to be here with you once again.
I have two things I want to share with you this evening.
First, I just want to say that I find it personally very encouraging that this dinner celebrates ten years of charitable work and disaster relief by Humanity First Canada, a mission of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community.
We are well-aware of your good works.
Give them a big hand.
Through our Government’s program of matching funds for disaster relief, we have been partners in responding to the devastation caused by several incidents including both the earthquake in Haiti four years ago, and also the floods in Pakistan that followed a year later.
And earlier this year, our Government assisted Humanity First through the Typhoon Haiyan Relief Fund.
With our Government’s contribution, Humanity First is building 284 houses, and rehabilitating four schools and one day-care centre in the Philippines, so I congratulate you all for that tremendous work.
Your heavy reliance on the service of volunteers, and I met many tonight, men and women who are often highly qualified in their fields of expertise.
This is what makes you such a valuable partner.
Put simply, you make our money go a long way.
We like that.
I am also delighted to learn that you will be using the proceeds of tonight’s dinner to respond to the West Africa Ebola outbreak.
We like that too.
As I mentioned last week at the Summit of the Francophonie Internationale in Senegal, Canada has made significant investments to combat the spread of Ebola in the region.
For some months, this country has deployed mobile laboratories, experimental vaccines, and medical equipment.
Canadian troops and medical personnel are now being readied to go to the affected areas, and we’re hopeful that a vaccine developed by a Canadian company will prove to be an effective antidote.
Now, ladies and gentlemen, as you all know, and I know that’s why you’re so committed to this cause, Ebola is a horrible way to die.
So thank you for your support in this extremely important effort to contain its spread and relieve the suffering of thousands of people.
However, tonight friends, I also wish to talk about a second subject.
I wish to offer a brief reflection upon the recent acts of terrorism in Canada and our appreciation of your response to them.
I’m speaking of course of the attack in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu that took the life of Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent, and the murder of Corporal Nathan Cirillo at the National War Memorial.
As we all know, these were disgraceful, shocking acts perpetrated by individuals, sadly, by self-professed Muslims in the name of Islam.
How important it was that the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at categorically and unequivocally condemned both the actions themselves and the terrorists who committed those acts.
Those acts, you said, and I quote: “Were the acts of heartless cowards and have no basis in any religion.”
You prayed for those taken from us and for the protection of all Canadians from harm.
You prayed the terrorists would be brought to justice.
Then for the fourth year in a row, you stood with the guardians of Canada by raising money for veterans through your “Muslims for Remembrance Day” campaign.
And of course, you’ve launched your own campaign to counteract youth radicalization, speaking with boldness to the very heart of the problem.
Your words and your actions are of great importance.
Just as you need to hear that your community is embraced by this country, so non-Muslim Canadians also want to hear from their Muslim neighbours that Islam is a force for peace in our country and not something to be feared.
You offer them this reassurance just as we also understand that communities like yours are often among the most at risk from attacks from violent extremists.
And so together, we must unite around our common values: freedom, democracy, human rights, and the rule of law.
Unfortunately, like civilization itself, these values are only ever a single generation deep.
We must all of us teach them to our children and hold them dearly in our hearts.
And these principles by which our country lives should be affirmed often in our public discourse.
One more thing.
I recently had the honour to meet with Her Majesty Queen Rania of Jordan.
Now I understand full well that Her Majesty is not a member of the Ahmadiyya community, nevertheless, I was impressed by her insights.
Speaking of the terror campaign waged by the so-called Islamic State of Iraq in the Levant, ISIL, Her Majesty warned that a minority of irreligious – irreligious – extremists is using social media to rewrite the Muslim narrative and hijack the Muslim identity.
She added, those who are silent on this issue are complicit.
Well, when terror in the name of Islam came to Canada’s door, you were not silent, you spoke up, you acted, you earned our appreciation.
You have all of our respect and thank you for doing that.
Friends, I will just close with this.
As I’ve said it before but it bears repetition.
Ahmadis are known throughout the world for your devotion to peace, universal brotherhood, and the will of God.
The core principles of true Islam.
And as we spoke of earlier, Ahmadis are also known for serving the greater good, like through Humanity First, in this and many other ways.
In fact, wherever Ahmadis live in the world, you are famous for participating fully in the larger community and living peacefully alongside peoples of all languages, cultures, and faiths.
All of this places Ahmadiyya Muslims squarely in the mainstream of Canadian society.
We live in a country that embraces cultures and religions from the world over.
We are proud of that.
Proud of the strong Canada, united in pluralism, that we are building.
When you take your place in the public square and you proclaim love for all, hatred for none, and that however we understand God, it is wrong to kill in his name, you are in a most essential way, a partner, a neighbour, and a friend to all Canadians.
So thank you for that, and thank you for having me here this evening, and for all of your contributions to our great country.
Thank you very much.