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To be Muslim in Quebec in 2023, some say, includes many obstacles.

“It means that you have opportunities and also multiple challenges,” says Samaa Elbiyari of the Canadian Council of Muslim Women.

Something she and others hoping to overcome with the Wednesday launch of Muslim Awareness at Montreal City hall.

The initiative was launched five years ago in response to Quebec City mosque attack on January 29, 2017. This year they get set to mark the sixth anniversary since the attack.

“To honor the memory of the victims who lost their lives on that same day in 2017,” Elbiyari said. “We are also here to reach out to our society because we realize that the cause of this tragedy was ignorance. Ignorance leads to fear and fear leads to violence.”

Six worshippers were killed in the mosque attack, after a gunman entered the Islamic Culture Centre in Quebec City and opened fire during evening prayers.

Since then, those in the community say Quebecers’ have been more open towards them.

“An openness among us was also seen to be able to explain our culture,” said Boufeldja Benabdallah, co-founder of the Islamic Cultural Centre of Quebec. “That’s enormous and it shows that our martyrs did not leave us for nothing.”

But some says there’s still a lot more work to be done like tackling Bill 21, Quebec’s secularism law, banning the wearing of religious symbols in some public sector jobs.

“This is, of course, causing a lot of hatred towards Muslims,” said Salam El-Mousawi, spokesperson of Muslim Awareness Week. “According to Statistics Canada reported hate crimes by the police in 2021 increased 71 per cent compared to the previous year against Muslims and Muslim institutions and this is alarming.”

With over 20 events, this year’s theme of the week is bridging the gap against Islamophobia.

“We are regular citizens,” said El-Mousawi. “We have our own challenges and we want them to get to know us more by creating a space for them through the events that we organize so that they try to defeat and put aside the fear they have.”

Samaa Elbiyari of the Canadian Council of Muslim Women

“It’s through dialogue that we get to know each other,” says Elbiyari. “There has to be multiple voices, there has to be really sincere discussions and this is how we can reach a point of harmony in our society.”

The post Muslim Awareness Week: launch of events to counter Islamophobia in Quebec appeared first on CityNews Montreal.



Muslim Awareness Week: launch of events to counter Islamophobia in Quebec

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