A Canadian Muslim community group has organized a town hall to help members cope with growing Islamophobia in British Colombia’s Lower Mainland.
Critical Muslim Voices, a community group whose goal is to create shared and safe spaces for its members, has organized Challenging Islamophobia: A Muslim Town Hall.
The group’s organizer says the town hall is meant to combat a growing sense of fear and helplessness within the Muslim community — feelings that have become common amid the backdrop of Islamophobia both locally and worldwide.
“[The] event is focused on the Muslim community in order to create a space where we can come together and just share what we’ve observed, what we’ve thought about [and] actions that we’ve taken to feel better,” organizer Rahat Kurd told host Gloria Macarenko on CBC’s On the Coast.
Kurd says the town hall is a shared space that allows members of the Muslim community the chance to come together and cope with growing concerns brought on by troubling current events like the mosque shooting in Quebec.
Initially, the group held back on making the location of the event public.
“It simply [was] a response to the profound unease of finding ourselves in kind of a new reality where … the sense of investment in racist hatred and religious prejudice is enough to motivate someone to pick up a gun and walk into a place of worship,” she said.
“One doesn’t want to believe that has happened, and that is the case,” she said. “We have a responsibility to our community members to make them feel as safe as possible.”
While the event is meant to address growing concerns within the community, Kurd says it is meant to empower as well.
“One of the things that we want to guard against is the feeling of fear and helplessness and isolation [within the community],” she said, adding that she’s tired of trying to defend her religion to other people.
She says Canada’s Muslim community has cooperated with de-radicalization efforts put forth by the RCMP and CSIS, and now she would like to see similar measures directed towards those who act violently towards Muslims.
“Now the shoe is on the other foot and we’re seeing radical white extremists take these violent and threatening actions against us, and it’s really perhaps a time for us to articulate a demand for some accountability.”