Abbotsford council candidate Vince Dimanno says he was just participating in a spirited discussion when he wrote last year that Muslims “are effectively obligated to kill non-Muslims that will not convert to Islam.”
Dimanno had posted the statement on Quora, a website on which users post questions and respond to queries by other users.
In response to a question regarding the fairness of a federal government motion condemning Islamophobia, Dimanno – a board member of the AbbyFest Multicultural Society – wrote that the proposed move threatened free speech.
He began his response by writing:
“The one nice thing about Muslims is they don’t ‘mock’ other religions. In the non-Muslim world, we debate, we criticize and we make fun of each other and other religions. Not Muslims. They are effectively obligated to kill non-Muslims that will not convert to Islam. Not much room for ‘mockery’.”
He goes on to write that criticism of Christianity led to the reform of that religion, and that criticism of Islam – particularly by Muslims themselves – can do the same. Dimanno also made news this week when his website posted documents it said indicated a problematic land deal by Mayor Henry Braun and his son, who works for the city.
The 2011 National Household Census found more than 700 Abbotsford residents were Muslim that year. Since then, the population has grown with further immigration and the welcoming of hundreds of Syrian refugees.
Dimanno told The News on Monday that his statement about Muslims being obligated to kill non-converts was similar to pointing out that the Bible says Christians should stone those who work on Sundays.
He said moderate Muslims are like moderate Christians who don’t necessarily follow such tenants.
Dimanno said he actually believes Canada should encourage Muslims to immigrate to the country and that “we can actually all live in harmony.”
Dimanno had also posted on Quora that he believed that a nuclear explosion beneath the World Trade Center actually brought down the towers on Sept. 11, a scenario that has been rejected by various U.S. government agencies. He wrote that he thought the U.S. government blew up the towers using nuclear explosions because of a worry that the jets being flown toward the buildings carried dirty bombs.
“I’m not a conspiracy theorist who thinks it was all a hoax so the US could attack Iraq,” Dimanno told The News in an email. He said he has an “open mind” and pointed The News towards a YouTube video on the subject.
An anonymous email pointed The News to the Quora posts. Dimanno said the posts aren’t connected to the campaign and debate often occurs in an unserious way.
“I think context is very important here when dealing with anonymous ‘tips’ looking for something to poke me with.”
Dimanno ran for council four years ago as part of the AbbotsfordFirst slate, but failed to win a seat. During the campaign, he apologized for a “satirical” post on his Abbotsford Today website targeting another councillor. He was also criticized for calling himself the president of the Abbotsford Ratepayers Association when the organization hadn’t met in years.
Dimanno said he left AbbotsfordFirst two years ago because it was failing to deliver on its campaign promises. He said he is taking no financial contributions for his 2018 campaign because he said he owes those who gave to him last time “an attempt at keeping those promises.”