Promoting Islam and diversity on campus

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Colourful fabrics, rich flavours, breathtaking artwork and henna. This week the Concourse at Wilfrid Laurier University is a cultural experience of the world of Islam. Sports, culture, arts and most importantly awareness are promoted this week by the WLU Muslim Students Association (MSA).

“We’re here to celebrate the accomplishments of past and present Muslims, we have culture, arts and sports, and we talk a lot about women and their contributions in the past,” said Semra Shaji, director for Islam Awareness Week.

As the first annual event and collaboration with the University of Waterloo, four lectures placing Islam in context of 21st century questions, including one on Sharia law, are being offered as part of the programming.

Snacks and fair trade goods from Ten Thousand Villages in Uptown Waterloo are being offered to promote local businesses and free trade. A seating area with traditional rugs and decorations offered students a taste of both beauty and luxury, as well as an opportunity to play games.

Furthermore, there’s table selling affordable and unique pieces of art from the Muslim community.

One of the most important facets of Islam Awareness Week is that it is not simply about the food or the country someone is from. “There are more Chinese Muslims [in the world] than there are Arab [Muslims],” Shaji explained.

Islam Awareness Week has a wide variety of literature available for anyone interested know more about anything Islam. Books written by converted Muslims, as well as small booklets with more information on the Qur’an are available.

Justine Kraemer, a second-year Biology student, was getting henna done at the booth. “I’ve never had it done before. It feels really cool. I think Laurier really emphasizes tolerance and inclusivity and this is a part of that,” she said.

“Who doesn’t like free food? And really, to get a taste of a different culture’s experiences,” Shaji added. “We want to promote diversity, conversation, acceptance and build friendships.”

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