Fake Imam Leads Defamation Campaign Against Iranian-Canadian Non-Profit
Updated: Jan 22, 2019
Controversial Australian-Iranian Mohammad Tawhidi who calls himself "Imam Tawhidi" recently published a letter on his website attacking the Iranian Canadian Congress (ICC), a non-profit Canadian community organization. In his letter, addressed to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and leaders of opposition parties in Canada, he has made a long list of accusations against the non-profit group without providing any evidence to backup his claims. While he is an Australian citizen, he is calling on the Canadian government not to consider the ICC a credible voice.
However, the true reason behind Tawhidi's campaign against the Iranian Canadian Congress (ICC) is the group's advocacy for diplomacy with Iran and their firm position against Trump's unilateral sanctions on Iran.
The ICC has been a strong voice in Canada for peace and diplomacy with Iran. The organization supports the Iran nuclear deal and advocates for diplomacy and constructive engagement with Iran, instead of sanctions and coercion.
Back in May 2018, it was reported that the ICC was able to convince Liberal and independent Canadian Senators to vote against an Iran sanctions bill (Bill S219: Non-Nuclear Sanctions Against Iran Act), which was proposed by Conservative Senators.
Tawhidi's Questionable Qualifications
According to an investigation by Australian ABC News, Mohammad Tawhidi has lied about his qualifications. In their investigation ABC News contacted the Islamic university that Tawhidi has claimed to have received his master's degree from. In their response the university has said:
"Tawhidi has no bachelor's degree from their university, let alone a master's".
The Islamic university added in their statement:
"He [Mohammad Tawhidi] has no competency to do religious activities or to preach sermons."
Tawhidi's Connection to Linda Frum
Tawhidi has been strangely active in the Canadian political scene through his connection with members of the Conservative caucus. Canadian Senator Linda Frum is one of the main figures who has invited Tawhidi to her events on Parliament Hill. It's unclear whether or not Tawhidi has been paid for these visits.
Linda Frum, who is the main figure leading virtually any action against Iran in the Canadian Senate, sparked outrage in the Iranian-Canadian community back in November 2017 when in a speech in the Senate she called Iran a "malign nation". Several Liberal and NDP Members in the House of Commons called for her to retract her comments and apologize to the Iranian-Canadian community. However, she has to date refused to apologize.
Conservatives seem to be using Tawhidi to justify policy positions they hold that may seem Islamophobic. For example, Tawhidi was vocal during the Conservatives efforts against motion M-103 that the Liberals and NDP supported to combat Islamophobia. The Conservative caucus seem to be using Tawhidi's voice to claim that their policies have support among Islamic religious figures and the Muslim community at large. In their events Conservative politicians introduce Tawhidi as an "Imam" and an "Islamic scholar".
Furthermore, Tawhidi has served as a prominent anti-Iran mouthpiece for the Conservatives. Tawhidi pretends to be a Shiite preacher. Conservative politicians including Conservative foreign affairs critic MP Erin O'Toole and his colleagues MP Garnett Genuis and MP David Sweet portray Tawhidi as a Shiite leader supporting sanctions and pressure campaign against Iran, a Shiite majority country.
Iranian Canadian Congress Calls For An Investigation
Yesterday, the Iranian Canadian Congress (ICC) published a letter they sent to the Minister of Public Safety Ralph Goodale regarding the defamation campaign launched by Mohammad Tawhidi. In their letter to Minister Goodale they have asked him to investigate Mohammad Tawhidi's actions. ICC President Soudeh Ghasemi said in the letter that their members and executives have faced threats and verbal harassment since Tawhidi launched the defamation campaign against their organization. Part of the letter:
The false information distributed through this defamation campaign has resulted in ICC members and executives, who all work on a volunteer basis, and hardworking activists in our community being threatened and verbally harassed in public and in social media.
In preparation of this report we contacted Senator Linda Frum and MP Garnett Genuis to comment about their relation with Mohammad Tawhidi, his false credentials and asked if Tawhidi has received any payment to participate in their events. Both refused to respond.