RCMP denial of Ramadan terror arrest apology vs. Muslim Canadian Congress version

A former RCMP officer who supports our work against racial policing in Caledonia sent me a link to an RCMP letter to the editor of the Ottawa Sun which is posted on the force’s website in which they deny apologizing to Muslim leaders for arresting terror suspects during Ramadan – as discussed in a previous post:

This is what the RCMP have posted…

A letter to the editor of the Ottawa Sun Response to: “Mounties apologized for Ramadan terror arrests”

Ottawa Sun, January 6, 2011

A story and an editorial piece published in the January 6th Ottawa Sun incorrectly stated that the RCMP had issued an apology for the arrests made as part of Project Samossa. This is simply not correct. The RCMP believes that the arrests were appropriate and we have not and do not apologize for carrying out our responsibilities as Canada’s national police force.

I would like to confirm that shortly following the arrests, we convened a meeting of our Cultural Diversity Consultative Committee in Ottawa to provide information and discuss any concerns relating to actions taken by the RCMP. As the meeting was convened during the month of Ramadan, the RCMP expressed regret to the Committee for any inconvenience the timing of the meeting may have presented its members.

As part of its National Security Community Outreach efforts, the RCMP has maintained a longstanding relationship with the Committee, which represents the interests of many ethnic and religious communities. The goal of community outreach is to encourage open dialogue in order to create better understandings, identify and resolve concerns, and ensure appropriate channels of communication between the RCMP and the communities we serve. This is important on an ongoing basis, not just in times of crisis.

I trust this clarifies the matter. Thank you.

Sincerely, 

François Bidal, Assistant Commissioner
Commanding Officer
RCMP “A” Division (National Capital Region)

RCMP version vs. Salma Siddiqui

The Ottawa Sun story – to which the RCMP’s response is directed – did not contain  quotes from a woman present at the meeting – Salma Siddiqui, VP of the Muslim Canadian Congress:

Ms. Siddiqui, who had some pretty clear recollections about what was said, including her response to the officers, was quoted in the Vancouver Sun/Ottawa Citizen stories:

[…] There is no reason for police to explain or apologize to the Muslim community when they arrest a Muslim, Siddiqui said. The notion that Muslims needs special treatment or that their religious sensibilities need to be addressed is both patronizing and condescending, and effectively sets Muslims apart from other Canadians.

“Why are they ghettoizing us?” she asked. “We should be treated like ordinary Canadians.”

Siddiqui attended the Aug. 25 meeting, and while she could not remember which RCMP officer issued the apology, she recalled there being one.

“There was an apology because of the month of Ramadan. He said the RCMP were sorry the arrest was made during Ramadan. He also said they would keep the meeting short because it was breaking the fast of Ramadan.”

Siddiqui found the whole outreach exercise irritating. “At the meeting I commented, ‘Would you apologize to other Canadians if you arrested someone on Christmas?'” […]

VoC attempts to confirm Siddiqui statements

Since Ms. Siddiqui’s version of what transpired at the meeting with the RCMP had the ‘ring of truth’ about it due mainly to her very clear recollection, coupled with her position as the VP of a moderate Muslim group, I was inclined to believe the RCMP was being a little disingenuous in their denial. Their position that they were just reaching out to address any concerns that Muslims smacks of craven political-correctness, and so the idea that they offered an apology for making the arrests during Ramadan is entirely believeable. 

I could find nothing on the matter on the Muslim Canadian Congress website (I was very impressed by their secular position on issues) so I contacted them via email on Jan 14/11 asking if Ms. Siddiqui stood by her statements in light of the RCMP denial, and I offered to print any statement she would like to provide.

Dear Muslim Canadian Congress:
 
I am working on a story for VoiceofCanada.ca about the alleged RCMP apology for the Ramada arrests. I have already posted an editorial condemning it, but the RCMP have recently written a letter claiming that the apology did not occur:
This denial seems to be at stark odds with Ms. Siddiqui’s seemingly very clear recollections as quoted in this Vancouver Sun article? 

[…] There is no reason for police to explain or apologize to the Muslim community when they arrest a Muslim, Siddiqui said. The notion that Muslims needs special treatment or that their religious sensibilities need to be addressed is both patronizing and condescending, and effectively sets Muslims apart from other Canadians. 

“Why are they ghettoizing us?” she asked. “We should be treated like ordinary Canadians.” 

Siddiqui attended the Aug. 25 meeting, and while she could not remember which RCMP officer issued the apology, she recalled there being one. 

“There was an apology because of the month of Ramadan. He said the RCMP were sorry the arrest was made during Ramadan. He also said they would keep the meeting short because it was breaking the fast of Ramadan.” 

Siddiqui found the whole outreach exercise irritating. “At the meeting I commented, ‘Would you apologize to other Canadians if you arrested someone on Christmas?'” […] 

1. Can you confirm, please, whether or not Ms. Siddiqui stands by her statements in the above article.
 
2. If she would like to provide additional commentary on the issue I will reprint her statement in full.\
 
Finally, on a technical note, although your email is shown as @gmail.com, when one clicks on the link to send the email, the address inserted is @rogers.com. I noticed it after my 1st email was returned as undeliverable. You can see the rogers.com address in the bottom of the browser window by hovering your mouse over the link. 🙂
 
Respectfully,
 
Mark Vandermaas  519.457.0709
Editor, VoiceofCanada
www.VoiceofCanada.ca
————————–
I received a quick reply from the MCC President Sohail Raza who promised to have one of their board members get back to me as soon as possible. As of today (Jan 19/11), however, I have not received a follow-up reply.

Unfortunately, since Ms. Siddiqui and the MCC have failed to confirm for me whether or not they stand by her statements I am forced to conclude ‘simply’ that someone is misrepresenting the truth on this matter.

VoC Comment

During my research into the Muslim Canadian Congress I was impressed by the secular approach taken by the group. I highly recommend these articles to those who would argue that there are no such thing as moderate Muslims:

References

Mark Vandermaas, Editor
VoiceofCanada
info@voiceofcanada.ca

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