Imam Aly Hindy did not come out from his east-end mosque Friday to talk about foreign donations or to defend his bizarre comments that homosexuality is “invented” and “garbage.”
Media coverage reveaed his mosque has received extensive foreign investment from the Islamic Development Bank in Saudi Arabia and other unknown donors. Documents show the Jeddah-based bank has fronted the mosque $650,000 since 1999.
But Hindy, an engineer who came to Canada in 1975 and once worked for Ontario Hydro, chose to remain silent and leave the talking to some of his loyal parishioners.
Like Tahmina Chowdhury. She says the cleric at Salaheddin Islamic Centre was merely expressing what is also her own understanding of Islam and the Koran.
“I know people who chose to do it (form homosexual relationships) for fun,” she said.
Coming from Friday prayer sessions, she said she has been taught if someone is homosexual it’s best to keep it to themselves.
“In Islam it’s about a man and a woman being able to procreate.”
Hindy is also reported to have performed dozens of illegal polygamist marriages in Canada, a concept Bangladeshi-born Chowdhury and her new husband say they have discussed themselves.
“I originally told him that it would be OK if he took a second wife, but now I think I would be too jealous,” she said, adding however perhaps in time “I think it would be OK for him to do that.”
As for hundreds of thousands of dollars of donations and direct funding coming from offshore patrons, she said, “I don’t see anything wrong with it.”
Libyan immigrant Tarek Ayoubi said he did not know of any of the controversies but vouched for Hindy and the teachings at the mosque where he regularly brings his young sons Saman and Mohammad.
“It’s very good,” he said of the Kennedy Road mosque and cultural centre. “This is a place where they get a foundation in Islam.”
While the mosque was teeming with people Friday -- most friendly and happily coming and coming from worship -- Hindy was conspicuously absent. Unnamed attendants said he was “out of town.”
Egypt-born Hindy’s contentious comments in the past have sparked plenty of passionate debate. He has previously been under fire before for his friendship with the Khadr family, calling some of the alleged Toronto 18 “good people,” his refusal to sign condemnation letters against terror attacks, and for suggesting 9/11 was a conspiracy assisted by the CIA.
His mosque has been described in a previous RCMP report as “a focal point for Toronto-area Islamic radicals.”
But the question for Canadian authorities comes down to two main areas: Is what is being taught following with in Canadian laws, and what countries is the foreign financing coming from.
So far, the Government of Canada has not commented on the out-of-country investment.
For example calling a group of people “garbage” could fall under hate legislation and money coming in from outside Canada being used for political purpose could violate tax laws, Muslim Canadian Congress founder Tarek Fatah said.
Neither concern has been tested against the Salaheddin Islamic Centre.
But Fatah said more transparency of what is going on inside the mosque and in its funding is vital.
“There are a number of people with this mosque who are affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood and the government here should be concerned about fronts for foreign politics being used inside mosques,” he said.
He said there is a “$20-billion-fund in Qatar” used to spread fundamentalist Islam around the world and “I can guarantee you they can afford to buy any academic they want.”
Fatah called it a “full fledged racket” that should be investigated and discontinued. “If money is coming in from Qatar for scholarships or travel trips for young people, a mosque involved in such a thing its charitable status should be taken away because our taxpayers should not be funding anti-Canadian hate.”
Calls to Hindy, as well as to gay rights advocates, were not returned.