Canadians Honor Quick-Thinking Muslim for Heroic Efforts

Category: Americas Values: Courage Views: 1096

By Canadian Islamic Congress Staff

Det. Const. Patrick Ferdinand didn't hear the gunshot which fired a bullet into his face.

"I heard a little click," he said as he recalled the shooting before the awards ceremony at the third annual Canadian Islamic Congress conference in Toronto on May 6.

Ferdinand partly remembers the day last summer he was almost killed while on duty in Toronto. He had pulled over a van to the side of Highway 401. Someone from behind the van's tinted window pulled the trigger of a gun aimed at Ferdinand's right cheek.

He didn't know he had been shot so he tried to chase the van as it sped away. As his police car moved forward, Ferdinand passed out at the wheel of his runaway cruiser. He survived the shooting with the help of some quick-thinking bystanders including cab driver Mohammad Nematian Zaroor who moved his taxi into position to slow down and stop Ferdinand's car.

It was an act of courage for which Zaroor was honoured with this year's CIC bravery award. And it was Ferdinand's gratitude which brought him and John Mellor, acting superintendent at 32 Division, to the CIC awards to show their appreciation. "It was an incredible act of bravery for which we are indebted," Mellor said before the ceremony.

A depression left by the bullet marks Ferdinand's right cheek and a scar behind his left ear is evidence of surgery he needed after the shooting. But Ferdinand is back to full-time detective duty. Because of Zaroor's actions, Ferdinand can play with his three children, aged 14 months to seven years, see his wife, and look forward to the arrival of their fourth child.

Unfortunately on the morning of the conference, Zaroor's daughter was ill and he wasn't able to attend the awards ceremony. But in a telephone interview the next day he said he would help anybody, not just a policeman. "It's my responsibility as a human being to be there for anybody," he said.

The Islamic Centre of Kingston was honoured in the most user-friendly mosque category for being especially inviting to women, youth and travellers. Kingston's Muslim community was "striving for perfection" when designing the mosque and choosing its location, said Dr. Hussein Mouftah, who accepted the award on behalf of the mosque.

The centre is a haven for Muslim travellers on Highway 401, who can easily pull off at the Sydenham Road exit to gather for prayer, heat up a meal, phone friends and family, bathe tired children, or spend a few restful minutes in reading and conversation. "It is part of the DAWA mission to call on people to get together to strengthen the faith of the community and to unify the larger community," Mouftah said.

ICK's facilities cater to the spiritual and social needs of men, women and children of all ages, while barrier-free wheelchair access (including modern push-button doors and ramps) allows the handicapped to participate fully in all worship and community activities.

Abdel-Rahman Lawendy was honoured with the CIC youth award. In 1994, while just at the beginning of his co-op studies in ergonomics at University of Waterloo, Lawendy travelled to war-torn former Yugoslavia as a volunteer relief worker. The needs of people he saw there left a deep impression and he resolved to do something more. So in 1998 he spent two months cycling 7,400 kilometers across Canada, from Cornerbrook Nfld. to Vancouver B.C., to raise awareness and money for war victims in Bosnia-Herzegovina. His two-wheeled odyssey raised more than $20,000. After graduating with honours from UW in 1999, Lawendy went to the University of Western Ontario in London where he studies medicine.

Community service kudos were awarded to Haroon Salamat of Toronto. After earning a Bachelor of Science degree from Montreal's McGill University in 1959, Salamat taught high school in his native Trinidad. He returned to Canada for further studies and graduated in 1965 from the University of Toronto's chemical engineering program. Salamat went on to a distinguished career in scientific research and publication, later joining major Canadian firms such as C.I.L., Rohm and Haas, Betz, and Chemitec. In 1977 he co-founded the Toronto and Region Islamic Congregation, now one of Canada's largest Muslim community centres. Besides being TARIC's longest-serving chairman, he is also active with a number of Islamic, interfaith and humanitarian organizations in Canada and around the world. After accepting his award, Salamat moderated the conference's first panel of the day.

Sun newspaper chain columnist Eric Margolis and Toronto Star columnist Haroon Siddiqui share the CIC's media award. Margolis is a panelist on Diplomatic Immunity, TV Ontario's popular current affairs show, and wrote "Wars at the Top of the World," a new political study of India, Pakistan and China, published in 1999.

Siddiqui came to Canada from his native Delhi, India, more than 30 years ago. He started as a junior reporter with the Brandon Sun and eventually became managing editor. During the more than 15 years he has worked for the Toronto Star in various jobs, he has covered numerous aspects of Canadian multiculturalism. He has won more than a dozen major awards for advocating on behalf of minorities and promoting reforms in journalism.

  Category: Americas  Values: Courage
Views: 1096

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