OTTAWA – As RCMP investigators searched through homes, computers and the seized equipment of three terror suspects arrested at the end of August, the RCMP’s community outreach office in Ottawa was calling an emergency meeting of the cultural diversity consultative committee to apologize to local Muslims.
“To show support to our Muslim brothers and sisters during RAMADAN, there will be no food or drink during this most important meeting. This meeting is for one hour only, in order to observe prayer time and the breaking of the fast during RAMADAN,” wrote Cpl. Wayne Russett.
The committee, especially Cpl. Russett, went into high gear after the arrest of Hiva Mohammad Alizadeh and Misbahuddin Ahmed in Ottawa’s west end on Aug. 25. The two men, along with Khurram Syed Sher, were charged with several terrorism-related offences in a plot the Mounties say was aimed at launching a terrorist attack in Canada and supporting terrorism abroad.
At the Aug. 26 meeting, one day after the terror bust, RCMP and Ottawa police officials apologized that arrests had taken place during Ramadan.
In the days after the arrests, Cpl. Russett held more than a dozen meetings with Muslim groups in Ottawa including visits to mosques, community centres and several meals to break the Ramadan fast.
“We have been actively engaging the local Muslim Communities and will continue to do so in an attempt to neutralize and elevate any issues of concern,” Russett wrote in an e-mail to Francois Bidal, the commanding officer of the RCMP’s A Division, which covers the National Capital Region.
The outreach to Muslims following the arrests is being criticized by some Muslim Canadians as blind pandering.
“This e-mail is an indication of how within the RCMP there are officers in authority who do not see the threat Islamism poses to our nation, but unwittingly perform the role of useful idiots,” said Tarek Fatah of the Muslim Canadian Congress.
“Why would they apologize to Muslims for arrests during Ramadan?” one of the meeting participants asked. The person, who did not want to be named, highly doubted police would call a meeting of Christian leaders to apologize for arresting someone on Christmas Day.
The cultural diversity consultative committee was established to “advance and promote positive relations between the RCMP the diverse cultural groups” of the National Capital Region.