While Vancouver police continue to investigate a possible hate crime, the Muslim Association of Canada opened its doors again to dispel the myths about their faith.
The association hosted a forum with Dr. Jamal Badawi, a professor emeritus of Saint Mary’s University, focused on expelling any inaccuracies about Islam and Jihad.
“If we don’t understand each other, correctly relate to one another in a more relaxed and peaceful manner, then it might give rise to certain elements to engage in violence and hatred which from my perspective and the study of Islam is the last thing that one would like,” said Badawi.
The same violence and hatred he and others here are trying to avoid came right to the doorstep of the Muslim Association on January 9. More than a dozen men, women and children gathered outside the association’s building on Kingsway when they were pepper sprayed by a man riding past them on a bike.
WATCH: Vancouver police are investigating an apparent hate crime against a man who attacked a group of Syrian refugees at a welcome party.
Many of those sprayed were newly arrived Syrian refugees. Police are investigating the incident as a hate crime.
Sunday’s forum was planned weeks ago, but organizers say the timing couldn’t have been better.
“Hopefully we can educate the public that you don’t have to be afraid of Muslims. There’s nothing wrong with being Muslim,” said Tarek Ramadan, Outreach Committee Director with the Muslim Association of Canada in Vancouver.
It was that same message of acceptance that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reiterated in Peterborough, Ontario, at a mosque that was torched shortly after the Paris attacks.
“What happened to this place of worship just one day after the brutal terrorist attacks in Paris was reprehensible. We will continue to denounce senseless acts of discrimination,” said Trudeau.
The forum’s Organizers say Muslims in Vancouver here should do the same. They’re also thinking about launching an Anti-Islamaphobia campaign, hoping more information will lead to less discrimination.