The contrast could not have been more jarring. Outside, a small group of rabid protesters, shouting threateningly, carrying megaphones, signs, and cameras. Inside, a rapt crowd of 600 listening quietly to a message of civic engagement delivered by one of the Muslim world’s most articulate writers and thinkers, Dr. Tariq Ramadan.
It’s a shame that the protestors came to disrupt rather than to listen to Dr. Ramadan. It’s likely that they would have been both encouraged and challenged by Ramadan’s talk. Encouraged because he calls citizens to be involved and express themselves through our democratic mechanisms – exactly as the protesters were. Challenged because he calls citizens to think deeply about the issues facing our divided societies, and to face our fears with rationality – precisely where our protesters fell short.Read more
This article was originally published on Oct. 25, 2016 on the Huffington Post.
As the Harper era ended and Trudeau’s term began in late 2015, a collective sigh of relief could be heard from ethnic communities all across Canada, especially from Muslim Canadians. From opposing niqabs at citizenship ceremonies to setting up a hotline for individuals to report the “barbaric cultural practices” of their fellow Canadians - which would have undoubtedly targeted Muslims and those believed to be Muslim - Steven Harper’s Conservative government proved to be highly intolerant of certain minority communities and certainly aided in the heightening of tensions against ethnic and religious groups in the country.
It is no surprise, then, that Trudeau’s comparatively progressive stances and charismatic personality have been so enthusiastically embraced by Muslim Canadians. As a Muslim Canadian myself, I have witnessed the raw enthusiasm within the community over our new Prime Minister. I can’t tell you the number of times my Muslim friends have posted selfies with our “dreamy” Prime Minister on social media. Many others have either proudly shared posts of the PM doing some pretty quirky things, like practicing yoga moves on a desk or showing off his Bhangra dancing skills.Read more