The Cycling Cleric hits the road in Prescott-Russell "$56"- * 54  r  /&84


ImamMohamed Jebara is putting his foot down and pedaling hard, to prove both his faith in Allah and in the compassion and community spirit of people, as he cycles around Eastern Ontario on his third an- nual Ride United fundraising adventure. The imam set out from Hawkesbury, on April 23, from the parking lot of the 100% Actif community youth services agency. His itinerary includes an overnight stay in Rockland and then off again early Sunday morning. At the end of seven days, starting along the Ottawa River route from Hawkesbury, he expects to clock 360 kilometres through Prescott-Russell, the Greater Ottawa area and Lanark County, before finishing up back home in Ottawa where his mosque serves the Muslim community. “It’s a bit chilly,” Imam Jebara said, smil- ing, as he rolled into Hawkesbury on a brisk Saturday morning, when the thermometer read a bare one degree above zero for the middle of spring. The imam has been going on long-dis- tance cycling jaunts for three years now, starting with a trek to Québec City and back in 2014, and last year a round-trip between Toronto and Ottawa. Each year he has used his cycling tour to raise money and awareness for a differ- ent cause. The first one was for the Heart & Stroke Foundation and the second for the TrilliumGift of Life program to support or- gan donation. This year’s odyssey is for the United Way programs for youth services in Prescott-Russell, Ottawa, and Lanark. “All of these (programs) are very impor- tant to Canadians,” Imam Jebara said. “I believe in living the faith, and leading by example.” Which leads to another reason for his annual cycling journeys.The imam seeks to counter the negative image of both Islamand Muslims, portrayed and promoted through by hate groups and individuals through the Internet, and in media news reports of ter- rorist attacks by fundamentalist extremists. These, he explained, do not present a true picture of either Islam or the majority of Muslims living in Canada and elsewhere, who are good at heart and both appalled and saddened by the actions of extremists. “Humans are all one,” the imam said, adding that his interfaith message of hope includes a challenge to his fellow clerics, both for Islam and other faiths, to also help promote both understanding and support for causes that help the community at large. His efforts are paying off.The Archdiocese for Ottawa has provided a letter of support for Imam Jebara’s annual cycling treks and he has had clergy fromCatholic, Protestant and Jewish churches join him in other com- munity support projects in the past. Before getting on his bike and pedaling off, the imam had one last message. “You can be a person of faith, and con- tribute to the world.” More details and travelogues on Imam Jebara’s journey are at and also at hamed.

Joining Imam Mohamed Jebara (centre) to send him off on his annual cycling journey are: Tracey Allard, 100% Actif president; Kayla Léveillé Quan, 100%Actif coordinator; Jodie Densmore of Centraide-UnitedWay Prescott-Russell; the imam’s son, Daniel; and Connor Allard-Remenda, a volunteer at 100% Actif. —photo Gregg Chamberlain 400, avenue Spence Av., Hawkesbury 613-632-4343

Sun. toWed. /Dim. auMer.: 11 AM-10 PM Thurs. toSat. / Jeu. auSam. : 11 AM-11 PM


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