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More Muslim converts worry Ottawa imam

The imam of Ottawa’s largest mosque saw the ‘biggest number’ of conversions after the Parliament Hill shooting

Published: Updated:

Usually news of more people converting to one’s religion is somewhat pleasant for religious leaders but that doesn’t seem to be the case for the imam of one of Ottawa’s largest mosques, where an increased number of conversions is worrying him.

Sam Metwally, the imam of Canada’s Ottawa Mosque, told CBC News that he witnessed “the biggest number” of conversions he has seen after the deadly shootings outside the Canadian parliament on Oct. 22.

Metwally said anywhere from 15 to 20 men in their 20s to 30s have come to the mosque to convert since the shootings.

“This is the biggest number after an event like this happens, and it was strange,” he said.

What is worrying for the Muslim community is that the new converts are not returning back to the mosques for further education about Islam.

“We try to give them our contacts, we try to encourage them to come again, but unfortunately the vast, vast majority of new converts, they come once and they disappear,” Metwally said.

“They never come back again. And this is a big concern for us.”

Some Muslim leaders demand a strict policy in place at all mosques across Ottawa, requiring potential converts to take a course in order to understand the religion.

“What we’ve been hearing from converts for years is that the Muslim community actually needs to do more for converts,” Amira Elghawaby, a member The National Council of Canadian Muslims, said.

She added: “The community needs to be providing more Muslim 101 classes, we need to be inviting people who are new to the faith to come in and learn.”

Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, the man behind the parliament shooting in October, was a convert to Islam.

Before converting, he was a habitual offender, drug addict and slept in shelters on Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, according to reports.

Before his Parliament Hill stunt, Zehaf-Bibeau, was asked to leave a Vancouver mosque he attended since he objected to its policy of allowing in non-Muslims.