Mississauga-Erindale Liberal candidate categorically denies alleged statements on Islam, critics unmoved

Members of Mississauga’s Coptic community allege that on the night of Omar Alghabra’s nomination as Liberal Mississauga-Erindale candidate last December 1, the former President of the Canadian Arab Federation told supporters that his victory was “a victory for Islam” and that “Islamic power is extending into Canadian politics”.

Reporters, as well as political opponents such as former Liberal riding candidate Carolyn Parrish, present at the nomination say they did not hear the alleged statements.

However, statements attributed to Mr. Alghabra raised concerns among Erindale Copts such as Sheref El Sabawy who told the Mississauga News that he was “shocked” to hear Mr. Alghabra claim his nomination was an Islamic victory and felt “embarrassed to have endorsed” Mr. Alghabra whose alleged statements he feels are “a big warning for us that we could be second class citizens”, should he be elected.

Mr. Alghabra’s alleged statements came to public attention after the Canadian Coalition for Democracies (CCD) released on December 19 a press communiqué quoting testimonies from other witnesses who attended Mr. Alghabra’s investiture at the Coptic Christian Centre of the Church of the Virgin Mary and St. Athanasius in Mississauga

According to the CCD release, David Ragheb, a member of the congregation, saw Markham Councillor Khalid Osman, described as Mr. Alghabra’s financier and manager, take to the stage and declare, “We have the east, we have the west, and now we have Mississauga!”.

Speaking on the day of the CCD press release to the Mississauga News, Mr. Alghabra declared: “I didn’t say a thing about Muslims or Islam in my acceptance speech”.

The CCD’s President, Alastair Gordon, however, is not convinced. Speaking yesterday to Judeoscope, Mr. Gordon said: “if such statements were simply not made that night, one would be inclined to say, “I never said that, period!”

To Mr. Gordon’s understanding, based on several eyewitness accounts, after Mr. Alghabra gave a standard acceptance speech, Mr.Osman, seized the microphone and made a series of “statements about this being a victory for Islam and how Muslims have now taken Mississauga”. Only then, says the CCD’s President, without distancing himself from Mr.Osman’s statements, did Mr. Alghabra make the alleged statements after stepping down from the podium amidst his supporters.

Mr. Gordon also indicated that those who claimed not to have heard the comments are likely telling the truth, as the noise level and general pandemonium were reportedly such that many left the area near the podium after the acceptance speeches were over.

Today, the Ontario Liberal campaign headquarters released a communiqué stating that Mr. Alghabra is the target of an “ethnic smear campaign”. The statement quotes Mr. Alghabra repeating that he categorically denies making this statement and that “anyone who says otherwise is lying”. When asked this morning whether he may have made the attributed comments after stepping down from the podium, Mr. Alghabra answered Judeoscope that “the quick answer to your question is absolutely no” and added “I can assure you that these allegations are a deliberate attempt to smear my reputation and are completely false”.