Muslim conference discuss isolation, identity and Stephen Harper

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SHAFAQNA – According to Calgary Herald Reported that ” Muslim parents should help their children navigate Canadian society by discussing their identity, according to speakers at a weekend conference. Local imam Nabil al-Adani said radicalization is the result of losing perspective, which can be prevented by finding constructive solutions. At the two-day conference organized by the Westwinds-based Muslim Families Network Society, al-Adani displayed a series of photos and asked the audience what words came to mind.

The first photo was the Cold Lake Mosque, which was spray-painted with the words “go home” following the terrorist attack in Ottawa last October. The audience used words like: racism, sad, misunderstood, anger. The second photo was the non-Muslims who cleaned off the graffiti the next day, which prompted reactions like: love, justice, thankful, belonging. The imam used the vandalism and the initial attack in Ottawa illustrate that radicalism is manifested through both anti-immigrant violence and fundamentalist terrorism.

“If any of these two sides manage to drive you, you’re going to lose home. This is your home; your neighbours, the people around you.” Al-Adani also showed a photo of the Webber Academy, a local private school that was fined $26,000 last month after the Alberta Human Rights Commission ruled it unlawfully discriminated against two Muslim students by refusing to allow them a space to pray on campus. Members of the audience told similar tales of being asked to pray elsewhere in public. Al-Adani advised attendees to keep calm, and put themselves in the other person’s shoes — for example, explaining the Muslim obligation to pray five times a day and how many are accustomed to praying silently in public space.

“This is actually the reality: there’s a love in this country, a lot of love. It’s in your hand to lose it, or to keep it there,” said al-Adani, who encouraged Muslims to engage with politicians and the media. He also took aim at the federal government for allegedly encouraging anti-Muslim sentiment, which prompted some applause.

Al-Adani cited Justice Minister Peter MacKay’s remarks that this year’s Valentine’s Day plot in Halifax to allegedly slaughter scores of people was not linked to terrorism because the suspects were not “culturally motivated.”

“That’s a problem, when you send such a wrong message to wrong people. And that is what we see with our Prime Minister,” he said, taking aim at Stephen Harper’s remarks that the niqab is “rooted in a culture that is anti-women.”

Al-Adani said Canadian culture is arguably anti-women for its persistent gender wage gap, and for using underdressed women to sell products.

“The problem here is that, politically yes [that’s how] many people view this situation. And today Muslims are weak, so let’s abuse them even further and further.”

His talk was followed by New Jersey psychologist Dr. Raymond Brock-Murray, who told the mainly immigrant attendees that it’s important to help children navigate both a culture clash, and the Internet.

He asked the handful of children in attendance if they worry about their identity and how their schoolmates see them. All of them said yes.

“Sometimes there’s a disconnect between what it means to be from a particular culture, and to identify with a particular culture, but then still also have parts of your thought that are native to the land that you live in,” he said.

Brock-Murray suggested parents clearly lay out what aspects of their native culture they want to keep and not keep, so children can form healthy identities. He noted that leaving young people with an unstable identity can leave them vulnerable to falling in with nefarious groups, in public or online.

“A lot of things that they’re going through doesn’t look pretty.”

 

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