By Behdad Mahichi
UPDATE: According to Michael Forbes, a Ryerson spokesperson, security reviewed surveillance footage in their investigation to discover that high winds had actually blown down the banner.
An Ahmadiyya Muslim Students’ Association (AMSA) of Ryerson banner hanging in front of Lake Devo was cut down in what the group calls an act of Islamophobia.
Titled “Islam: At Odds with the West…?” the event scheduled for Dec. 3 will be a forum for students to ask questions about the religion.
The banner was tied between two trees with rope. On Monday, it had been torn on one side, cutting through the metal covered holes. The banner cost $220.
Ali Ahmed, president of AMSA Ryerson, said this is the second time they’ve had their posters vandalized in two years.
Last year, the group held an event focused on fighting extremist influence towards Canadian youth — but their banner, which was again hung above Lake Devo, was taken down as well.
“I don’t want to say who did it and why it happened,” said Ahmed, “but Islamophobia is huge right now. It’s something we’re trying to tackle every day, and I think the best way to do that is through education, dialogue and building bridges with each other.”
Ahmed said that ironically, the event was planned to tackle Islamophobia.
“We need to reach out to students before anyone else does with something that isn’t true,” he said.
Ryerson Students’ Union vice-president equity Rabia Idrees said that the group notified her, and then filled out a formal complaint to Ryerson Security.
“I’m not going to give the blame to a Ryerson student, it could be anybody from the Toronto area,” she said. “There’s clearly a lot of ignorance, hatred, misinformation that people have on others who follow the Islamic faith.”
“We’ll put it back up, and it can come down a hundred more times,” said Ahmed.
“We’re not going to respond back with hate or violence, once we do find out who did it, we’re not going to hold any grudges. We’re going to do what Islam teaches us, we’re going to be respectful and peaceful.”