Tag: Muslim

Muslim family killed in terror attack in London, Ontario: Islamophobic violence surfaces once again in Canada

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Four members of a Pakistani-Canadian family were killed by a man in a truck in what police are calling a hate-motivated attack. This photo, released by the family, shows the victims (left to right): Yumna Afzaal, 15, Madiha Salman, 44, Talat Afzaal, 74, and Salman Afzaal, 46.

By Jasmine Zine, Professor of Sociology, Wilfrid Laurier University

A Pakistani-Canadian family out on a stroll on a warm weekend evening was murdered in a horrific act of Islamophobic violence in London, Ont. A nine-year-old boy, hospitalized with serious injuries, is the only survivor of a terror attack that killed his sister, father, mother, and grandmother.

How will he make sense of this unthinkable tragedy? This was not an accident. Police have said his family — his father, Salman Afzaal, his mother Madiha Salman, his 15-year-old sister Yumna Afzaal and his grandmother, Talat Afzaal — was “targeted because of their Muslim faith” and hit by a speeding truck. How do you process this targeted hate and violence at such a young age?

While Canadians may be shocked and blindsided by this mass murder, the ingredients for this tragedy have long been in the making. The warning signs of white nationalist violence have been glaring.

Hate crimes against Muslims in Canada grew 253 percent between 2012 and 2015. The 2017 terror attack in a mosque in Québec left six men dead after offering their evening prayers. Last year, a caretaker in a Toronto mosque was stabbed and killed and the person charged with his murder is alleged to have been influenced by neo-Nazi social media posts.

Not just far-right groups

But it’s not only far-right fringe groups that hold anti-Muslim views.

Results from a 2016 Forum Poll revealed that 41 per cent of Canadian adults expressed some level of bias against identifiable racial groups, with Muslims having the highest negative rating at 28 per cent.

Another survey published in 2016, by the Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants, found that only 32 per cent of Ontarians had a “positive impression” of Islam.

The following year, a survey done for Radio Canada revealed that almost one in four Canadians would favour a ban on Muslim immigration, with the level of support for this ban rising to 32 per cent in Québec. Most respondents (51 per cent in Canada, 57 per cent in Québec) felt the presence of Muslims in this country made them “somewhat” or “very worried” about security.

A breeding ground for violence

These negative views of the Muslim presence in Canada create a breeding ground for xenophobic racial violence.

I research Canadian Islamophobia and its networks that produce hate and circulate destructive ideologies.

There is a networked ecosystem of Islamophobic hate groups in Canada that promote conspiracy theories about Muslims threatening “Canadian values” and western civilization, plotting to impose “creeping shariah law” and political Islamism.

Other problematic rhetoric includes the liberal washing of white nationalism that politically camouflages xenophobic, Islamophobic and racist ideologies under the guise of “protecting democracy,” “freedom” and the “rule of law” from what are regarded as illiberal, anti-modern and anti-democratic Muslims.

Once again, it is not just extremist groups that promote Islamophobia. Canadian security policies have targeted Muslim communities for surveillance and scrutiny leading to targeted racial and religious profiling . Bill 21, the Québec law that bans certain civil servants from wearing religious symbols, follows decades of policies mandating the coerced unveiling of Muslim women who wear Islamic attire that effectively institutionalizes gendered Islamophobia.

Anti-Muslim racism is normalized

Through these policies and practices, liberal Islamophobia normalizes anti-Muslim racism and constructs Muslims as suspect and inferior citizens.

My research on Islamophobia, spanning more than a decade, has underscored these and other concerns that anti-Muslim racism poses in Canada. I have documented the repercussions of anti-Muslim racism on Muslim youth in my forthcoming book Under Siege: Islamophobia and the 9/11 Generation.

Mourners at a funeral are in tears and console each other as they lean over caskets
A man breaks down next to the caskets of three of the six victims of the 2017 Québec City mosque shooting. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
The 9/11 generation of Muslim youth have come of age at a time when their faith and identity are under siege. This is a condition that has been exacerbated with two hate crimes resulting in mass murder in Canada in the past four years. The risks for the Muslim community are palpable. There is heightened fear and anxiety along with grief and mourning.

The calls to action from the local Muslim community in London, Ont., include an immediate national summit on Islamophobia in Canada. This is an important step to begin the work that needs to be done challenging Canadian Islamophobia.

Call for national summit on Islamophobia

This summit should have been undertaken after the Québec mosque shooting four years ago. Canada’s national amnesia surrounding this attack was finally addressed with a National Day of Remembrance of the Quebec City Mosque Attack and Action Against Islamophobia. We now have another horrific tragedy to remember and mourn and yet very little action on Islamophobia.

For Fayez Salman, the nine-year-old survivor whose world has been shattered by this hatred, none of this matters right now. As a scholar of Islamophobia studies, I can analyze what kinds of social, cultural and political factors precipitated the racist Islamophobic violence that destroyed his family and permanently altered the course of his life, but in the end God only knows how Fayez will make sense of this tragedy. Our prayers are with him.

Source- The Conversation, June 8, 2021. (Under Creative Commons Licence)

India an example of unity in diversity: Hazrat Syed Muhammad Ashraf

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From Rajeev Sharma

New Delhi: Amid worries over the growing menace of terrorism across the globe, Delhi is all set to host the World Sufi Forum for four days beginning March 17. The Indian Prime Minister Mr. Modi will inaugurate the event at Vigyan Bhawan. Around 200 delegates from home and abroad will participate. Some of the important participants are: Dr Tahirul Qadri (Pakistan), Shaykh Hashimuddin al Gaylani (Sajda Nashin Khanqah Qadaria (Baghdad/Iraq), Stephen Suleman Schman Schwartz (founder and executive director of Centre for Islamic Pluralism, USA), Shykh Afeefuddin Al-Jailani (founder and chairman of Al-Wariseen Trust, Iraq), and Sheikh Mohammad Bin Yahya Al Ninowy (Sufi leader, USA). The All-India Ulama and Mashaikh Board (AIUMB) is the organizer.

Here are the excerpts from an interaction with the board’s Founder-President, Hazrat Syed Muhammad Ashraf:

India represents unity in diversity. The Muslim population in the country is only second to Indonesia’s. But Muslims in Indonesia are in a majority, in India they are a minority. But the Constitution of India grants full respect to Islam. In this way, India has become an example of unity in diversity. India is like a ‘guldasta’
that has flowers with many colours. This has to be preserved and protected. No flower can be put aside at the cost of others. Whatever is happening in the name of Islam today is misleading. The real Islam is one, which has been interpreted in the Holy Qur’an. And the Nabi says thrice with all the emphasis that one cannot be a ‘momin’ (believer) who has not kept his neighbor safe and satisfied by his words (zuban) and deeds (hands). The neighbor means that each individual belongs to God. Islam talks about humanity throughout the world.

Khwaja Ghareeb Nawaz has talked about it…Mehboob-e-Ilahi Makhdum Ashraf Jahangir…These are some of the great souls who while on earth in physical form, and now when they are interred, continue to spread a message of peace and harmony. How can I accept that whatever is happening in the name of Islam is Islam? Bombs are placed in markets and innocents are killed, what kind of Islam is this? Any extremist organisation waving Islamic flags and misusing the holy qur’an such as Daesh and ISIS have actually no endorsement in the ambit of islam.They are nothing but terror outfits which are tarnishing the image of islam. It is therefore important to realize and unearth the propaganda of such people and organizations that are funded by foreign entities to spread hatred and intolerance to disrupt peace in a country such as India.

A meeting with the Indian PM

As this is a major event to be held in Delhi, our 40-member delegation met the Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently to convey our sincere desire for his presence in the event. He heard us with patience and agreed to participate. He showed a great amount of warmth by shaking hands with each member of the delegation. He was informed that AIUMB is India’s apex body for sufi shrines and for muslim religious leaders such as Ulama,Imams and Muftis.

Historical Event

For the first time such a large congregation of Sufi scholars is arriving in Delhi. These scholars, drawn from madarasa,Khanqah’s and various dargahs, will present their research papers. This will take the shape of a 1,000-page book. The programme will take place on 18th and 19th March at Indian Islamic Cultural Centre. A rally is going to be held on March 20 at Ramleela ground which will be addressed by Tahirul Qadri and many well-known scholars. A large number of people have already started arriving. We believe it is high time for us to create a platform to seriously ponder over the radical interpretations of Islam by terror groups for political gains.

The spread of terror and tyranny by jihadist forces in Syria and other parts of the world has damaged the image of Islam more than ever before. However, we are of the belief that Indian Muslims can provide a real alternative to all the bloodshed being spilled across the world in the name of Islam by promoting their rich history of Sufism. We intend to make India the global centre for moderate ideology in Islam.

Pakistan: Educated, glamorous and wearing a Hijab

By Zofeen Ebrahim

KARACHI, Pakistan, Nov 18 (IPS) – They are young, educated, urban women who frequent cafes, shop
at ritzy fashion outlets, and go to yoga classes whenever they have time off work.But they also wear the ‘hijab’ or Muslim headdress, which even in this mainly Muslim South Asian country makes them a target for derision in far too many instances.

Indeed, while more conservative clothing like the ‘burqa’
– which leaves only a woman’s face (though at times even the
eyes and hands) uncovered – have been worn here for
centuries and accepted as South Asian garb, modernists
consider the ‘hijab’ as a dress more in keeping with Arab
culture. Both however are for the same purpose of purdah, or
the shielding of women from public observation by means of
concealing clothing and separate physical spaces.

Unfortunately, too, what some Muslim women wear as
reminders of their choice to be modest and humble have been
associated instead with extremism, even though they feel
that covering themselves and being modern are not
necessarily in conflict with each other.

As a result, Pakistani women who don the veil and also
the ‘abaya’ (a black outer garment that also covers a woman
from neck down), have been called derogatively as “ninjas”,
“fundos”, “Taliban”, or “mullani” (female version of
mullah).

Many seem uncomfortable around them. One hijab-wearing
journalist says that when she applied for a job at a media
company, her interviewer looked at her from head to toe
while asking if she would be able to fit in the firm’s
“liberal” environment.

Ansa Khan, 40, says that a bank refused to let her open
an account there because she had her face covered. According
to Khan, the manager said the bank policy demanded that the
person opening the account must reveal his or her face, and
there were no female staff at the branch at the time.

Farahnaz Moazzam, who covers her head and wears the
abaya, observes, “People are more conscious and cautious
when I am around. They laugh less and whisper more.” And
unless she smiles first, she says, she is bound to be
surrounded by serious faces.

Says Moazzam, who gives Koranic lessons to women: “It’s
interesting how, over the years, people have asked me
questions like, ‘Do you crack jokes?’, ‘Do you make
mistakes?’, ‘What do you and your family talk about?’, ‘Do
you ever get angry?’, ‘Do you watch TV?’”

For sure, these women find such an attitude ironic in a
country where females are expected to dress modestly in the
first place. But some like Khan concede that their choice of
clothing may remind people of unpleasant events.

Among these is a 2007 incident in Islamabad in which
about 6,500 hijab- and abaya- wearing women of Jamia Hafsa,
a seminary attached to the Lal Masjid, had challenged the
government’s authority. A bloody army operation ensued,
resulting in the death of many students.

At the same time, the incessant images in media of women
clad in abayas and burqas in more conservative societies
like Saudi Arabia and Taliban-era Afghanistan seem to have
led many people here to associate such clothing with ultra-
conservative views.

The mildest expectation of women like her, says the
hijab-wearing journalist, is that they are “as perfect as
(angels)”. Moazzam agrees, saying, “They think too highly of
me because I am trying to follow one command of my religion
that is outward.”

Touba Naeem, who has been wearing a hijab for the last
eight years, says that people take one look at her attire
and assume that she is “not fun”. Single at 27, she adds,
“Hijab can be a potential detriment (to) good marriage
proposals.”

Interestingly, most of these women say their worst
critics are not strangers, but members of their family. One
woman says that her father and older brother “opposed
initially” her decision to don a hijab. Another says that
when she started wearing a veil, “my older brother would
pull it off my head in gatherings”.

One young socialite who began wearing a hijab after her
marriage says that her husband at first was hesitant in
accepting her veil. But all hell broke loose when she
started to wear the abaya, she says. “He refused to
introduce me to his friends or sit with me at social
gatherings, as if he was ashamed,” she recalls. Over the
years, she says, her husband has accepted both her hijab and
abaya.

Yet for all their hardships that have come their way
because of what they want to wear, these women remain
adamant about their dress of choice. Aside from considering
it as an offering to Allah, the women say dressing the way
they do liberates them from worries about their looks and
allows them – and other people – to concentrate on more
important things.

Comments Moazzam: “I don’t feel like a product or an
object anymore. Now people notice my smile, my conversation,
and take me more seriously.”

The socialite, for her part, says that she did weigh the
pros and cons of wearing a hijab and concludes: “The
discomfort of not wearing it outweighed the joys of showing
off. I am happier doing it.”

Moazzam does say, however, that women who cover
themselves up should not treat life as “a prolonged bad hair
day”.

“You should look your best and maintain yourself,” she
says, “for your family and most importantly, for yourself.”

“Fashion, why not?” says Moazzam. “I am as normal as any
other woman. I have, however, come to a point where I am
covering up my fashion statement, jewellery, haircut, in
front of the crowd. But I still do it and enjoy it.”