At a conference to combat radicalization held last week in Toronto, a prominent local imam called on the federal government to stop using language linking Islam to terror.
“Lead by example, change the rhetoric, and stop saying these words. They hurt,” said Dr. Hamid Slimi, former chairman of the Canadian Council of Imams and current chairman of the Muslim seminary, the Canadian Centre for Deen Studies.
The plea, met with overwhelming applause, referred specifically to remarks made by Prime Minister Stephen Harper weeks before that characterized mosques as potential spaces of radicalization.
Several days later, U.S. President Barack Obama, whose government has refused to use words such as “Islamic” or “jihad” to characterize violent extremism, found himself under fire for taking the opposite side of the semantic battle.
“What’s wrong with this man that he can’t stand up and say there’s a part of Islam that’s sick?” former New York Mayor Rudi Giuliani reportedly said, after the president defended his government’s position this week at a White House summit on combating extremism.
“We are not at war with Islam,” Mr. Obama said. “We are at war with people who have perverted Islam.”