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Thursday, September 18, 2014

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Calgary imam says remarks were misinterpreted

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CALGARY — A Calgary-based imam who compared the treatment of Muslims in the country to that of Jews in the Nazi era says his remarks were misinterpreted.

Syed Soharwardy, president of the Islamic Supreme Council of Canada, in trying to clarify his earlier comments said Friday that he did not mean to compare Ottawa's new policy banning Islamic face veils at citizenship ceremonies to the treatment of Jews during the Holocaust.

Rather, he said, Muslims in Canada are starting to feel as if they are under attack much as Jews were in the years leading up to the Holocaust.

"I said the current situation of Muslims that we are facing is trending towards a situation that will be very, very horrible," he told a news conference. "I created a similarity just to make a point, not to insult, not to be unrealistic or insensitive or incorrect."

Soharwardy said he meant to compare the rising hostility facing Muslims in Canada to the genesis of antisemitism decades before the Holocaust.

"I have regret in the interpretation, on how people understand," he said. "What I don't regret is the truth I believe."

Earlier this month, Soharwardy said on the policy banning the nijab at the citizenship ceremonies that "Muslims are going through that situation right now what the Jews faced before the Holocaust."

Soharwardy said he has requested a meeting with a local Jewish group to clear the air.

Jeffrey Smith of the Calgary Jewish Federation said his organization is aware of the request but has not decided whether to proceed.

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