23 November 2011
Prime Minister Stephen Harper made the following remarks while attending Eid on the Hill:
“Thank you, Senator. As-Salāmu Alaykum. Peace be upon you. Greetings to Minister Kenney, Ambassadors and High Commissioners, respected Imams. It’s a real pleasure for me to be here this evening for this extraordinary event.
“Thank you to Bassam Derbas and the Association of Islamic Charitable Projects and thank you as well to Daljit Singh and the India-Canada Organization. I’m delighted to see these two great groups working with Minister Kenney on what has become a new tradition: Eid on the Hill.
“Eid on the Hill is an idea that was a long time coming. This month, the festival of sacrifice has united families celebrating their faith. And this evening, the Muslim community is gathered in the National Capital to celebrate its many contributions to Canadian society.
“Throughout Canada, Muslims have succeeded in business, academia, the arts, in every conceivable field of endeavour, because this is a country where everyone has a chance to build a better life for themselves and their family.
“That’s why we have always attracted so many talented, hard-working immigrants, people who have done so much to build a growing and thriving dominion. We know that the Islamic faith has been present in Canada since at least the 1870s. But, back then, it would have been hard to imagine how many mosques have become prominent in communities across Canada.
“For example, my adopted province of Alberta has seen an evolution, from the construction of Canada’s first mosque, the Al-Rashid in Edmonton, in 1938, to the opening of Canada’s largest mosque complex, the spectacular Baitun Nur in Calgary – an event I attended.
“In celebrations like that one, like the Aga Khan Museum and Park opening, and of course, in being with you here tonight, it is plain to see the moderate, benevolent, true face of Islam – to see people who have embraced Canada and contributed immensely to our economic and cultural life.
“Friends, our incredible cultural diversity is one of Canada’s greatest assets. The harmony and vitality that characterize our Canadian diversity are part and parcel of what defines us as a free, democratic country. Together, we are building a stronger and more united Canada.
“For instance, in Ottawa today, people like Senator Salma Ataullahjan, who was born in Pakistan, are bringing a Muslim voice into Canadian political life. Because we all believe that promoting religious freedom is an essential building block for peace and stability here at home and throughout the world.
“Right across Canada, Muslim communities are making positive contributions to our great country. And tonight’s event is one more wonderful example of how we can all come together as Canadians. So let me just concluding in wishing all of you a belated Eid Mubarak.”