Muslim community fears backlash over Couture-Rouleau's vicious acts
News of the sad events in St. Jean sur Richelieu has rocked the Muslim community in Montreal.
Concerned there might be a backlash against their community, many hope to stress that Martin Couture-Rouleau’s murderous act of mowing down a member of the Armed Forces should not be connected to his recent conversion to Islam.
The Canadian Muslim Forum say they were shocked by news of Couture-Rouleau's actions and have outright condemned it.
They said Tuesday that they are also concerned they're being held responsible to answer for his actions.
Connecting terrorist groups such as ISIS to Islam is dangerous and could hurt the peaceful Muslim communities living here and abroad, said Samer Majzoub, president of the Canadian Muslim Forum.
Majzoub also said there was nothing conventional in Rouleau's faith.
“They are saying he self-converted to Islam. This is another aspect of this. Islam cannot be taken from online. It has to be taken from sources. Second, they are saying he has no direct contact with the community,” said Majzoub. “We have to keep in mind in the area there is no focus of community there.”
That's why they're worried that as news of Couture-Rouleau's radicalization spreads, so too will fear of Muslims.
“We fear the backlash. Don't forget this group (ISIS) has damaged Muslims more than any other group in the world,” he said.
Getting that word out isn't easy, however, especially when there are so many images flooding social media – a tool terrorist recruiters are using to lure and convert people.
The ranks are growing, said former CSIS agent Michel Juneau-Katsuya.
“ISIS , the Islamic state who have been calling on the international jihad and who have been recruiting abundantly, young westerner from every country they can. As a matter of fact, intelligence agencies around the world are estimating about 13,000 young westerners have been recruited via the internet and radicalized,” he said.
Stopping it means using the same weapons. Concordia student Khadr El Chami said he uses his status updates to voice opposition to terror.
“Just as ISIS, they've used social media, they've been using videos to show their hurtful actions. Social media is the greatest way for me to share the opposite of that. To show that's not what Islam is about,” he said.
Zeneb Kham is from Couture-Rouleau's hometown of St. Jean sur Richelieu and said the Muslim community is very small there, and therefore vulnerable.
“What's going on causes people to be bolder in their reactions towards Islam, towards us. And they think she's associated with Islam therefore she's associated with that group and what's going on,” she said.