Sponsor of Islamic conference featuring Justin Trudeau bows out amid controversy


TORONTO – Criticism of Liberal MP Justin Trudeau’s planned appearance at an Islamic conference has prompted a sponsor to bow out after scrutiny of the event highlighted the group’s stripped charity status.

The organizers of the Reviving the Islamic Spirit conference say the decision for IRFAN-Canada to withdraw was made after the Liberal leadership hopeful came under fire for his plans to attend the annual event.

IRFAN had its status revoked by the Canada Revenue Agency in 2011 for allegedly using deceptive fundraising to send nearly $15 million in donations to organizations with ties to the Islamic militant group Hamas.

IRFAN denies any wrongdoing, is challenging the ruling and the group’s lawyer said it decided to withdraw from the upcoming conference to avoid causing further controversy.

Some Jewish groups and media outlets raised concerns last week about Trudeau attending a conference backed by IRFAN.

Trudeau has already brushed off questions about making a keynote speech on Dec. 22.

When asked last week about his participation plans, he said much of the controversy over his appearance was based on misinformation.

“I’ve heard a number of people express concerns about this event that I certainly don’t understand and I don’t share,” he said at a news conference.

“Most of the organizers are young Muslims who are looking at trying to bridge the gap between the reality for Muslim Canadians and mainstream Canada and I’m very proud to be able to contribute.”

Naseer Syed, a lawyer for IRFAN, said Sunday that the group has been unfairly criticized.

He said it’s unfortunate that the controversy over Trudeau’s participation drew attention to IRFAN’s dispute with the federal tax agency and prompted the group to withdraw from the conference.

The allegations regarding Hamas are misleading, Syed said. The non-profit organization sent medical supplies and money to people who needed it through local certified charities, he said.

IRFAN nevertheless decided to withdraw to avoid creating further controversy, he said.

“The ultimate thing that changed this year was politics,” he said.

Farhia Ahmed, a spokeswoman for Reviving the Islamic Spirit, said she hopes the issue won’t detract from the convention.

She said it’s organized every year by about 400 young Canadian volunteers and the goal is to foster intelligent debate and tolerance.

The aim, she said, is to create an environment where people can come to “exchange ideas.”

Trudeau wouldn’t be the first political figure to speak at the conference.

Previous participants include the late NDP leader Jack Layton and federal cabinet minister Julian Fantino, who at the time was Toronto’s police chief.

Last year, on the conference’s 10th anniversary, Prime Minister Stephen Harper sent a congratulatory statement and issued certificates to each of the event’s speakers.

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Sponsor of Islamic conference featuring Justin Trudeau bows out amid controversy

  1. The Muslim Brotherhood is a danger to Canada. The JDL will be at the event.

    • I am sorry Meir but this conference is one that advocates tolerance and bridging the gap and finding common values, they do not need your EDL associated group in order to somehow make it more tolerant, your presence, and simply yours, will surely bring the element of extremism to this conference, an element that it has done without for the last several years.

      Good day to you and hope to see you their and shake your hand.

      • see you there****

  2. When asked last week about his participation plans, he said much of the controversy over his appearance was based on misinformation.

    The media is failing in it’s responsibility to it’s readers if it fails to press this guy on his non stop use of generalities. Trudeau claims his appearance is based on misinformation. Well, tell us Justin what you mean, and tell us your comprehension of Islam and why you decided to associate with this brand of Islam.

  3. Justin has a perfect opportunity to tell the crowd what Canadian values are, what Islamic values are, do a gap analysis, and then close the deal by telling them to get on board with the rest of us. This is Trudeau’s chance-speak now Justin or keep your big mouth shut re talking about values!!!!!

  4. Stand, and for those of you who blindly hate and criticize, do some research. Come to the event yourself and witness the speakers and the message delivered before blindly hating and listening to the anti-muslim biggotry generated by zionist groups and their friend in the media ‘sun news’ (which is the porn of newspaper). Google and listen to scholars such Hamza Yusuf, Zaid Shakir, Habib Ali-Aljifri, Dr. Abdal Hakim Jackson, and other scholars that come to the conference. Visit the conference website at revivingtheislamicspirit dot com. For all of you independent minded people, do your own research. As for the haters, hate as much as you want, the outcome will always be the opposite of what you desire, for God hates those who hold hatred in their hearts.

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