By Genelle Levy Wed., Aug. 11, 2021
In the wake of the attack on the Baitul Kareem Mosque, Cambridge Times wanted to further explore the topic of Islamophobia and how fellow Waterloo Region residents can be allies to the Muslim community.
This Q&A series features leaders from different Muslim organizations within the Waterloo Region to highlight their perspectives and experiences on Islamophobia and what it means to be Muslim.
The following is a conversation with Maqbool Sheikh, director of advocacy and public relations for Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at Canada and spokesperson for Baitul Kareem Mosque.
WHAT’S A MOMENT OF ISLAMOPHOBIA THAT YOU’VE EXPERIENCED IN YOUR LIFE?
“I’ve seen it in the recent attack on the Baitul Kareem Mosque.”
TELL ME ABOUT THE IMPACT THAT HAD ON YOU?
“With this attack that happened at the Baitul Kareem Mosque, we issued a press release, saying that it was an act of violence and hate. I’m sure you’ve seen the pictures; if you look at the damage that was done, there was an element of hate. We don’t know what the real motivation was for this particular individual. But you see it in other places, like the unfortunate incident with the Afzaal family in London; that definitely has an impact on everyone, not just myself. And that’s why it’s so vitally important that we’re reminding people all the time that it’s important for us to stay united against extremists that are bent on hate.”
HOW CAN FELLOW WATERLOO REGION RESIDENTS BE ALLIES TO THE MUSLIM COMMUNITY HERE?
“There’s been a lot of emphasis on politicians and their actions, but ultimately it’s going to come down to people like you and me that have to stand up in the face of hate. We have a responsibility ourselves as Muslims, to educate people and do our part. It’s not just a one-way street. So that’s why you’ll find that we will have open houses, to invite people to come in and dispel their ill-informed notions. If we focus on our commonalities, it will dispel some of those fears and anxieties that people have conjured up.”
WHAT DOES BEING MUSLIM MEAN TO YOU?
“Being Muslim is about my connection and personal relationship with God.”