Muslims in TO rally for peace
By Manshad Mohamed
Toronto — Sunday May 2, 2004 was a rainy and cold day in Toronto but this could not dampen the spirit of close to one thousand Muslims who marched from Queen’s Park to Metro Hall with enthusiastic shouts of “Allahu Akbar” (God is Great) and various other chants. The purpose of this exercise, according to Imam Slimmy of the IMO Mosque, one of the leaders of the rally, is to bring peace and joy to an aching and suffering world filled with animosity for both neighbours and strangers.
The streets of downtown Toronto have seen parades before but this one was different with men, women and children in a variety of kurtas and cultural dresses, headgears, umbrellas and raincoats to boot.
The message behind the march was clear: Muslims wish to live in harmony within their respective communities and to remove any intolerance or bigotry that would interfere with their peaceful coexistence.
Marchers with their placards in support of last Sunday’s Milad un Nabi Peace Rally.
Imam Slimmy saw this march as “the beginning of relief for the whole world.” and significant that it was held to coincide with Milad un Nabi, the birthday of the Holy Prophet Muhammad who was “chosen by God to bring light to the world and to dispel darkness.” Imam Slimmy posits that “if we cannot be the light, then we should try to be a mirror.”
Dr. Shafiq Quadri M.P. for Mississauga West brought greetings from Prime Minister Paul Martin who was aware that the peace rally was about mutual respect and understanding in a community that enjoys such rich diversity. Councillor for Ward 8 in Toronto, Peter Lipretti represented Mayor David Miller and congratulated the audience for holding such a peaceful march when the world is at such conflict.
At the invitation of Ousman Ally, the rally then moved to the Imdadul Mosque where a fund raising dinner brought in $5000 plus pledges, to help the earthquake victims in Iran.
Guyana recognizes May 5th
Georgetown — The long and hard battle by Guyanese to have May 5th declared a national holiday designated “Indian Arrival Day” has finally been won...well, partly.
At the end of April the National Assembly approved the report of the Special Select Committee on the Review of Public Holidays which recommended that May 5 be observed as Arrival Day. The word “Indian” has not been included in the designated holiday on May 5th.
Groups espousing the cause of Indians in Guyana, chief among them, the ROAR Move-ment and the Guyana Indian Heritage Association (GIHA), have been very vocal over the years in demanding that May 5th, the day on which, in 1838, the first Indian indentured immigrant set foot on Guyanese soil, be set aside as a national holiday to recognize the contributions of Guyanese Indians.
The present administration, which is perceived to be an “Indian government,” has in the past vascillated on the issue. There have been many debates among those who were in favour of and those against the holiday. Many argued that the government was reluctant to appear to favour Indians in a racially divided society.
But the pressure kept mounting with the latest being that, before the official pronouncement was made, GIHA “declared” May 5th a national holiday and called upon its supporters to join in its celebrations and observances. Over recent years GIHA has mounted the largest and most successful May 5 celebration in Guyana.
The fact that the word “Indian” has been omitted from the holiday’s designation suggests that the government is still treading cautiously.
Third South Asian Heritage Month launched
Toronto — "During South Asian Heritage Month 2004, let us acknowledge and educate our friends and neighbours about the contributions of South Asians to Ontario, while we celebrate our culture, heritage and traditions which binds us as South Asians and as Canadians."
These were the exhortations of Raminder Gill, former MPP who introduced and piloted Bill 98 in the Ontario Legislature in 2001, the Bill that gave form to what is now officially recognized and celebrated as “South Asian Heritage Month.”
This year’s celebrations kicked off at the Ontario Legislature building with Transpor-tation Minister Harinder Takhar urging: "This
is an opportunity for us to share our history, culture, and contributions.”