SASKATOON – After a mosque in Peterborough, Ont. was struck by arson and anti-Muslim graffiti stating “Muslims go home” was found in a Toronto apartment, some people in Saskatoon say they’re afraid they could be another target of misguided aggression.
“It was very scary. My dad told me not to take the bus at first. But then I said no worries. I haven’t done anything wrong. I shouldn’t be scared,” said Natasha Rehman.
Rehman says when she first heard ISIS took responsibility for the deadly attacks in Paris, she knew some seemingly knee-jerk reactions were coming.
“It was very hurtful to see certain things.”
Reacting to the recent hate crimes, members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Students Association at the University of Saskatchewan made it a priority to host an inter-religious symposium called “Suffering.” Organizers say the event is about promoting discussion all while clearing misconceptions about Islam.
“If I was someone who didn’t have a Muslim friend … who didn’t have a Muslim neighbour or colleague I would have no idea except for what’s being portrayed by ‘so-called Muslims’,” said Noman Hassan, media spokesperson for the Ahmadiyya Muslim Students Association.
Kate Hodgson says she attended the event to learn more and spread the word on peace.
“If you scratch any religion … Christian, Protestant … whatever … you’re going to find the same story somewhere. It’s time we learned not to brand people like that,” said Hodgson.
Recently, Coun. Charlie Clark too, addressed the heavy backlash some Muslim communities have had to face.
He took to Facebook to write a post that in part says “Fomenting stereotypes and fears that attempt to draw divides between entire populations of people is a recipe for insecurity.”
Both Rehman and Hassan say despite some anti-Islamic sentiments, the Saskatoon Muslim community has been met with an overwhelming amount of support.
“It gives us a chance to come out stronger,” said Rehman.