Windsor Muslims learn to deal with Islamophobia

Windsor Muslims learn to deal with Islamophobia

How to peacefully counter Islamophobia will be discussed by local Muslims Saturday at the University of Windsor.

The Windsor Islamic Association and the University of Windsor's Muslim Students Association will host the workshop with the National Council of Canadian Muslims.

The session will be led by Ihsaan Gardee, a University of Windsor graduate and NCCM Executive Director.

Mohamed Nur is the vice-chair of the Windsor Islamic Association's public relations board. He said the weekend event is an educational tool for the community.

"We want to educate our community on how to react to certain to certain Islamophobic gestures or slogans by certain people in the community. Windsor is a great city but there are those people who have those beliefs, especially towards Muslim women who are covered," Nur said. "So we want to educate them on how they should react, what they should do, how they should carry themselves and not feed into those perceptions those Islamophobes have."

He believes hijab-wearing Muslim women encounter more overt forms of Islamophobia than men.

"I have never had an issue with Islamophobia because I don't carry my Islam on my face or body like most Muslim women. So, with Muslim men, they can blend into society more than Muslim women, they are the ones who get the burden from Islamophobes most often," Nur said.

Nur admits Islamophobia is not very common in this city.

"Windsor is a very welcoming city. It's a very multicultural city at the same time," Nur said.

Ronnie Haidar is the media director for the Windsor Islamic Association and often speaks on behalf of the local Muslim community. He agrees with Nur.

"Windsor is an excellent city, every institution and organization welcomes Muslims with open arms and it is reciprocated in our institutions and organizations as well. We have a strict open-door policy at the Windsor Mosque and all mosques across the city that welcome Windsorites in all shapes and sizes, in all ages and all genders," he said. "Windsor has been, in my opinion, one of the better cities when it comes to the relationships with the Islamic community and the outside Canadian communities."

The workshop will also have a component that will focus on how groups can best field media questions about Islam and Muslims.

It will be "a step-by-step workshop which provides an introduction and brief overview of how the world of journalism and media works," according to the program outline.

It will include tips on how to respond to media requests, organize public events and generate news coverage.

While Haidar said Islam is sometimes portrayed unfairly due to the actions "of a couple bad apples." He feels the local media has fairly portrayed the local Muslim community.

"Here in Windsor, we have established excellent media relations with different media outlets who do a great job of representing and promoting and portraying the Islamic community in the proper light because we are an integral part of this community and we do a lot of wonderful things day in and day out. It's important that those things are portrayed."

The Media & Islamophobia Workshop takes place this Saturday at the University of Windsor from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The event is free and open to everyone.

Organizers anticipate 70 to 100 people will attend.

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