Ten ways to build community between Muslims and non-Muslims

| November 23, 2015
Photo: Flickr/Lue De Leeuw

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Anti-Muslim harassment and violence has increased in Canada since the attacks in Paris last Friday. Following that attack many Muslims have faced threats and violent acts. At the same time, many people are working to create stronger links of peace and understanding between Muslims and non-Muslims across the country. 

Early this week, one Ottawa woman decided she wanted to send a message that she is saddened by the way events in Paris are affecting people she knows. So she wrote the following card to her local grocers, who are Muslim:

To all the people at Damas,

I just wanted to express my appreciation for you and your store. I love the foods you carry and I enjoy how friendly and kind you all are.

Since Friday I have seen things on the internet that have made me sad. Ignorance can make people say cruel things.

I am only one person -- I cannot change the world, but I thought, maybe if I do something I can do, even if small, it can help peace and love.

So that is why I decided to write this card. To let you know that you are loved, appreciated and accepted and that there are many who will not allow fear and hate to rule them. Many want peace and love.

If you have been upset, I hope this helps a little. Please accept my gratitude offered with sincerity.

I love your store and I am happy you are part of my neighbourhood.

Peace and love,

Elizabeth Chaykowski

The card was received and appreciated. 

"She really touched my heart," said Seyma Elevi, who runs the grocery store along with her family, in a facebook message.

Here are some more tools for building community between Muslims and non-Muslims across Canada:

  1. This community safety kit from the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) provides tips for keeping your Mosque safe and reaching out to the broader community.
  2. If you aren't Muslim, reach out to your local Muslim population in real life by joining friendship actions like this one, or this one in Winnipeg.
  3. Shenaz Kermalli wrote this article on how not to treat Muslims after the Paris attacks. Read it.
  4. Want to show support online? #Illridewithyou is a tag created the last time anti-Muslim violence was growing and people are using it again now.
  5. Increase understanding in your workplace. Here is a handy guide to Muslim cultural practices for employers and educators here.
  6. If you're an educator, you can take a look at this document to learn more about countering racism and Islamophobia among your students with this document.
  7. If you witness violence, offer support to victims. It is a good idea to report the violence but also ask the victims if they wish to remain anonymous. Reports should be made to the authorities but can also be filed to the NCCM using this form.
  8. Read and share this 'Letter to a Muslim student in these troubled times', written by a teacher who has seen this pattern before.
  9. Be informed: share this information with friends and family.
  10. Sign this petition welcoming refugees.

Happy community building!

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