As part of the Peace and Reconciliation Centre’s (PARC) Peace Talks series, on June 23 the centre will host a webinar from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., addressing Islamophobia.
The webinar will feature a panel of speakers who will draw on lived experience, post-colonial studies, and critical race theory to help understand the roots of Islamophobia and the structures that continue to sustain it.
They will also be providing guidance on how to dismantle and transcend Islamophobia in Canada. The evening’s panelists are:
• Imam Islamullah, BC Muslim Association Abbotsford chapter
• Parin Dossa, professor of anthropology, Simon Fraser University
• Dr. Aman Haji, representative of the Muslim Community
• Two UFV students
• Ghizlane Laghzaoui, associate professor UFV Modern Languages Institute
• Dr. Keith Carlson, director of Peace and Reconciliation Centre (MC and moderator)
“UFV College of Arts condemns the Islamophobic attack in London, Ontario on June 6 that resulted in the killing of Salman Afzaal and Madiha Salman, their 15-year-old daughter Yumna, Talat Afzaal, mother of Mr. Salman, and the bereavement of their son Fayaz. As educators, we assume a responsibility to act against systemic Islamophobia and we call on our students and community to act against these continued acts of violence,” said Dr. Jacqueline Nolte, dean of the College of Arts.
The centre’s mandate is to facilitate constructive dialogue that supports conflict transformation.
“Islamophobia is real. It is a toxic force in our society that must be overcome,” Carlson said. “In North America, where Muslim people and culture continue to be portrayed in most movies and TV programs as violent extremists, it is little wonder that non-Muslim people grow up learning to fear and even hate the followers of Islam.
“Our Peace and Reconciliation Centre will not simply offer platitudes. In next week’s panel we are bringing together people whose lived experience and academic training can shed light on the origins and causes of Islamophobia, and we invite those people to provide the rest of us with the insights, knowledge, and recommendations we need to take action towards the dismantling of Islamophobia in Canada.”
There are roughly 1.8 billion Muslims worldwide. They are ethnically, linguistically, and geographically diverse, and yet the media does little to portray this, Carlson says.
He says what is not widely known, for example, is that the largest Muslim populations are located not in the Middle East or South Asia, but in the Asia Pacific region. Muslim people and societies have made, and are continuing to make today, incredible contributions to the world, he says.
The Peace and Reconciliation Centre is issuing a call to action to educators at all levels, from kindergarten teachers to university professors, to better inform their students about both Islam and Islamophobia.
“It’s crucial that we undercut the misinformation and the biased prejudicial commentaries that are out there,” Carlson said. “Knowledge and empathy will provide the tools we need.”