Working Against Fear
Regina Leader Post - Dec 12/15 Natascia Lypny Don Healy Regina Leader Post
Event to spread knowledge about Muslims
When Shazia Rehman moved here from England nine years ago, she was heartened that, as a veil-wearing Muslim woman in a — at the time — less multicultural Regina, she was welcomed with warmth and generosity.
Shazia Rehman and fellow members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at community will be at the library Sunday to speak with non-Muslim residents about Muslim faith and identity.Now, as incidents across Canada and elsewhere threaten that acceptance, Rehman feels Regina’s Muslim community should be part of the solution.
“We need to work against this prejudice and we need to work against this fearmongering that’s growing because if we do that, if we give into that, then the terrorists win,” she said.
Rehman believes most Canadians do not agree with anti-Muslim messages that are spreading across North America surrounding terrorist attacks and questions over the intake of Syrian refugees.
“Unfortunately, xenophobia and fear is getting traction because people don’t know what they’re afraid of,” she said.
That’s why on Sunday, Rehman is helping to organize an event through the local Ahmadiyya Muslim community to encourage a dialogue between Muslim and non-Muslim residents. She said the event will seek to find out what people’s concerns and questions are, then address them in the most approachable way possible.
The event is inspired by the Twitter campaign called #JeSuisHijabi, which translates to “I am a woman who wears a veil.”
“We think that it’s vital in the environment that we’re living in at this time that we do all that we can as Canadian Muslim women to remove any misconceptions that may exist regarding Muslim women and Canadians,” she said.
“We’re trying to work against terror in the best way that we know how, which is: 1) Not to allow our community to become disenfranchised and; 2) To build on the strengths that we know Canadians share and value in the diversity and in the tolerance and in the multiculturalism that make up the fabric of our community.”
For Rehman, #JeSuisHijabi is about more than educating others. She describes the hijab not only as a form of worship but as a sense of identity, likening the veil to a uniform. She feels as of late, that uniform has been “misused” by some.
“I feel my identity is in danger of being hijacked in two ways: Not only as a Canadian, but also as a Muslim, because people are starting to feel unsafe about revealing who they really are,” she said.
Rehman feels it is important that Muslim women be loyal to who they are and what they stand for. For the Ahmadiyya Muslim community, that is “love for all and hatred for none.”
“We are welcome in this society and we belong in this society,” she said.
The event takes place Sunday from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. at the George Bothwell Library in Southland Mall.
There is still no word on when government-sponsored Syrian refugees might land in Saskatchewan.