The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has revoked the charitable status of the Ottawa Islamic Centre and Assalam Mosque on St. Laurent Boulevard over allegations it promoted “hate and intolerance.”
The CRA posted a summary of its reason for revoking the mosque’s charitable status last month, which says the organization failed to devote all its resources to charity and “allowed its resources to be used for activities that promote hate and intolerance,” which meant it failed the CRA’s public benefit test.
The tax agency also identified problems with the organization’s books and its failure to file an information return.
Ali Abdulle, a mosque administrator, said the allegations come as a shock and date back to a previous administration.
“We have been devastated. It’s like an earthquake,” he said. “The mosque resources [have] never been used for any hate or any promoting hate.”
Speeches in other cities
The hate and intolerance allegations relate to guest speakers invited to the mosque between 2009 and 2013, who said what the CRA characterized as hateful things in other cities, according to Abdulle.
“They did not say it in our mosque, they said it somewhere else,” he said. “We think it’s unfair to us and it’s unfair to the community to be revoking our charitable status over what somebody said.”
He said the mosque community is vibrant, welcoming and promotes Canadian values.
The CRA said at least two speeches happened in 2014, after the previous administration left, and that throughout the period of review “the board of directors permitted individuals with extremist and biased views” to speak.
In its submissions to the CRA, center officials said those talks were organized by other members of the mosque community, and that they have since closed off most of the basement to stop people meeting there without approval and permission.
In the documents officials said they’re also now vetting potential speakers more thoroughly.
The CRA had asked for transcripts or recordings of the speeches and the mosque didn’t provide them, and that there wasn’t enough evidence the organization did its due diligence, it said.
The name of one speaker the CRA said appears to have been radicalized and is willing to resort to violence was blacked out in the letter provided to CBC News.