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Panel: Working towards a solution to Islamophobia in Canada

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By John Stranz

In wake of the rise in Islamophobia beyond borders, and within Canadian territory, Ryerson has held its fourth event exploring this form of discrimination. On Feb. 27, the “Mind and Action series – Working together to build solutions against Islamophobia” event was aimed towards building a safe and inclusive environment for all of Ryerson’s members.

Among the panelists speaking at the event, were Haroon Siddiqui, Jasmin Zine, Natasha Persaud, and Shafique Virani. Zine is a professor of sociology at the university of Wilfrid Laurier, and an education consultant. 

The panelists began by acknowledging the rise in Islamophobia, and the leaps and bounds that bigotry has made manifesting itself within Canada. Zine identified the negative portrayal Muslims have within media as one of the main manifestations of Islamophobia. “These are not innocent ideologies, they serve a political purpose […] these ideologies feed into our systems and allow for reproduction,” Zine said. 

These negative ideologies provide a limited misconstrued view of Muslims. Persaud, a human rights lawyer involved with the Canadian Muslim Women of Law, provided insight into her daily life as a visibly Muslim woman. She noted that she is commonly assumed to lack intellect, agency, and even personality. She outlined the lack of awareness individuals can have as a manifestation of Islamophobia, and the importance of simply getting to know Muslims, and the shared commonalities over the differences. The common generalization made promoting Islamophobia generalize, as Virani describes that “one quarter of the world’s population [is Muslim], and cannot all be the same.” 

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