SHAFAQNA – Members of Winnipeg’s Muslim community praised supporters who gathered Tuesday outside Winnipeg Central Mosque to send a message about inclusion and tolerance to Ottawa.
“It’s amazing the greater Winnipeg community is coming out for this show of compassion,” said Nilufer Rahman, a member of the mosque, “The show of compassion here is really heart-warming, ”
The My Canada Includes Muslims rally challenged “us and them” thinking that has divided the Muslim and non-Muslim communities this election.
“Like most other Canadians, I’ve been listening and watching the news, and I’ve seen a lot of of things appear to be anti-Muslim,” said Shaun Loney, one of the organizers. He said anti-Muslim views were ramped up after the niqab became an election issue, and when the Conservatives pledged to establish a tip line for reports of barbaric cultural practices.
Omar Siddiqui welcomed people into the mosque and said he’s experienced first-hand the increase in anti-Muslim sentiments.
“A racial epithet was hurled at me on the street a few days ago. I was called a sand [N-word], and told to go back to where I came from,” he said, adding he was glad for today’s turnout.
“I think it’s amazing, it looks like the whole of Wpg is here. It’s heartwarming that at a moment like this, we can stand in solidarity as Winnipeggers and citizens, to show our support for the values of inclusion and togetherness and peace and love. It’s really powerful.”
“I’m infuriated about the kinds of things our government is saying and doing, in regards, particularly, to Muslims,” said Nancy Pinnell, one of the participants in the rally, “We’re now seeing the kinds of things that happened in Germany to the Jews before the Second World War.”
“One of the problems is we do need to open up and get to know each other,” said Idris Knapp, manager of Winnipeg Central Mosque. “This is a rally not just for Muslims; it’s primarily for Canadian inclusion, and it’s something that all of us as Canadians need to embrace.”
Knapp’s mosque has received hate emails recently, he said, with messages like, “Go back home, go back to where you come from, if you don’t want to conform to Canada than you should never have come here.”
“With all the fear-mongering going on at the higher levels of government, this past summer has been hugely stressful for all Canadians,” said Rahman, “We’re not used to such a stressful political climate. This type of show of compassion is so important.”
Stephen Harper’s office responds
When asked to comment on the Muslim rally Tuesday in Winnipeg, Stephen Harper’s campaign office told CBC the economy remains its top concern:
“For Conservatives, the economy remains our number 1 priority. With great instability around us, our Conservative low-tax, balanced budget plan has helped steer Canada through a period of sustained global economic turmoil. Canadians know that this election presents a serious choice between experience and dangerous risk. A choice between our Conservative low-tax, balanced budget plan, and the Liberal plan that will cancel benefits to families, raise your taxes and kill over 100,000 jobs. Only a vote for the Conservative Party can protect your wallet and your job.”