A little girl stood on the snowy steps of Alberta’s Legislature in Edmonton, holding a sign that declares, “ISIS is not Islam,” during a rally by members of the local Muslim community on March 22, to exclaim that they do not support Islamic State (IS).
According to a release handed out at the event: “[IS] is the predictable outcome of the Salafist religious interpre-tations that have grown their movement under the radar of the mainstream media in the countries that are the very allies of our government. Interestingly, the Canadian government has continued to sell billions in weapons to these countries who openly support and train [IS] while at the same time also targeting other regional countries that are completely against Salafist ideology.
“While we believe the Canadian government should completely stay out of this conflict, we also believe that Canada should stand firmly behind the people of Iraq and support their fight against [IS] and stop any selling, or exporting, of arms to the known backers of [IS] in the region.
“We are protesting [IS] and their genocidal designs, and the Harper government’s and NATO’s reaction and misplaced support in the region.”
Donna Entz, an outreach worker for the North Edmonton Ministry, spoke in support of the Muslim people assembled, many of whom are her friends. She told the story of a little Islamic girl who had been displaced in the Middle East and how she could not understand why IS did such bad things, yet maturely understood how impor-tant it was to forgive.
Entz read from the teachings of Jesus in Matthew 5:44: “Love your enemies,” saying that Jesus taught people, who, with love, respect, compassion and forgiveness, can learn to live together.
As the war crimes of Islamic State terrorism were declared from the steps of the Legislature, a woman’s voice beside me answered “Shame!” to each one.
At times IS reminds me of the Nazis, and the evils that happened during the Second World War. The effects of being associated with the works of Nazi Germany were felt by my German-Canadian family during the 1930s and ’40s, even from half a world away. So Mennonites have felt the same stigma as today’s Muslims in Canada. But Mennonites were not Nazis and Islam is not Islamic State.