Kitchener City, Ontario (IINA) � Kitchener Centre Liberal Member of Provincial Parliament Daiene Vernile hosted on Saturday an event on combating Islamophobia at the Kitchener City Hall in Ontario, Canada .
Also on Saturday, in the City Hall, there was a celebration of the community effort to support the resettlement of 1,800 refugees, mostly Syrian, who have arrived in this region since late 2015. Combating Islamophobia is not just up to Muslims, but all Canadians, a gathering at the Kitchener market was told.
"We all as Canadians have to be really mindful about where we're going," said Fauzia Mazhar, chair of the Coalition of Muslim Kitchener Women of K-W at the public discussion.
That's especially relevant with the anti-immigrant rhetoric flourishing in the United States, and political gains that have been made by scapegoating single communities, Waterloo Record Newspaper reported.
"All of us are going to suffer as Canadians if we go that route," Mazhar said. "We all have a responsibility to make sure these things stop now."
Vernile said the deadly attack on a Quebec City mosque in January sparked many difficult conversations among Canadians. The purpose of the forum was to talk about some of the worries around Muslims and Islam and, she told the audience.
Mazhar asked Vernile and the audience what contributed to that perception, and the answers included the media promoting misunderstanding, confusion over the Qur'an and what it teaches, and generally misinformation.
Mazhar, who was wearing a headscarf, recalled when she first came to Canada and heard that notion Muslim women cover up because they are oppressed. "I had this identity crisis," Mazhar said.
She never considered her clothing as oppression, and said the modest dress is related to their beliefs and "it has nothing to do with men." Besides, she added, many Muslim women do not wear a head scarf, and each decides what they think is dressing modestly.
Kitchener Mayor Berry Vrbanovic and regional councilor Karen Redman joined the audience, and both commented on the importance of all people in the community protecting our values of diversity and inclusivity.
Redman said that all people must speak up against prejudices, and to look within themselves too. "Everybody who comes to Canada becomes the face of Canada and, none of us can sit by idly," Redman said.
Canadians cannot think we are immune. "In this country, we have had mosques burned to the ground and vandalized," Mazhar said. "We know there is a problem."
Source: International Islamic News Agency