Controversial imam denies being 'radical', wants apology from Mayor Coderre
Published Tuesday, February 3, 2015 9:12AM EST
Last Updated Tuesday, February 3, 2015 7:25PM EST
The imam who was denied a bid to open a community centre in Montreal says he is not attempting to radicalize youths.
Hamza Chaoui, in a Facebook post written Tuesday morning, said he wants an apology from Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre and from Mercier/Hochelaga-Maisonneuve borough mayor Real Menard.
Last week the city of Montreal said it would not revoke Chaoui's licence to open a community centre because city regulations did not permit places of worship on that site.
The decision came after Coderre called Chaoui “an agent of radicalization and instigator of social tensions,” and a newspaper reported that an Anjou mosque had barred Chaoui from its congregation over his beliefs.
In his written statement the founder of the Ashabeb Centre said he is not the villain portrayed by the municipal mayors.
"I categorically deny the allegations made by Mayors Menard and Coderre. I am not 'an agent of radicalization.' I have never supported hate nor violence toward an identifiable group in my sermons or my lessons," wrote Chaoui.
"On the contrary, I have always encouraged youths to integrate into Quebec society."
Chaoui added that the shocking declarations attributed to him, namely denunciations of homosexuality and sexual equality, were taken out of context.
On Monday Premier Philippe Couillard said he was pleased with Montreal's decision to prevent Chaoui from creating an Islamic Centre.