Coalition of Muslim Women host event to address Islamophobia

Kitchener-Waterloo hosts leaders to discuss pressing issues

On Jan. 28, The Coalition of Muslim Women in Kitchener-Waterloo hosted an event to address the rise in Islamophobia in the region.

The event took place one day before the National Day of Remembrance of the Quebec City Mosque Attack and Day of Action Against Islamophobia with the aim to join in solidarity and discuss steps to combat Islamophobia.

CMW invited leaders from the government, health care systems, school boards, post-secondary education, police services, and media, explained Mifrah Abid, CMW’s ‘Together Against Islamophobia’ program coordinator and the Jan. 28 event lead.

“We assigned different tables to these different systems, and then we invited Muslim community members to sit at each of these tables and discuss their own experiences of Islamophobia across different levels such as systemic Islamophobia, violent Islamophobia, and institutional Islamophobia,” said Abid.

They also worked to “collaboratively find an action plan or solutions to this problem. That was part one of the breakfast with system leaders.”

Later in the evening, a video contest was held for youth to speak about Islamophobia to highlight CMW’s new program, added Abid.

Fauzia Mazhar, CMW’s executive director, touched on the organization’s goal and vision for the event, which was “empowering [Muslim] voices to bring the change and connecting them directly with system leaders.”

“It was important for the community members to come together with system leaders and talk about the impact on them [due to what’s happening] at the global level and how it’s impacting people’s livelihoods,” said Mazhar.

“I saw a lot of positive energy in the room and people talking to each other at all levels, and leaving at least feeling that they were able to share what they wanted to share and were heard,” Mazhar said.

Increases in anti-Islamic hate have been recorded by the CMW within the last year.

Between Oct. 7 and Dec. 28, 2023, there were 83 per cent more hate incidents in Waterloo Region reported on their platform than during the same period the year before, said Abid.

The increase in hate incidents correlates to an increase in Islamophobia, anti-Palestinian, anti-Europe, and anti-Semitic hate, said Mazhar.

“Please report. We know there’s a lot of hate and discrimination that happens on campuses, but a lot of times the campus population is not necessarily connected with community support,” said Mazhar.

Individuals can report hate incidents on CMW’s website under “Anti-Hate Services.

“Understand that we can help. We support victims based on whatever needs they have.”

More information about the CMW can be found on the organization’s website.

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