WCI’s Muslim Student Association (MSA) is undertaking a poster campaign to try to combat islamophobia. With the recent happenings with Syria and ISIS, and comments made by politicians like Republican candidate Donald Trump, islamophobia has come to the forefront in recent news.
Ayana K., who was placed in charge of the poster campaign with the MSA, said that in his opinion, “WCI is a really accepting school. There isn’t that much islamophobia here … it’s just that I want to stop it at its roots.”
According to Ayana, although WCI might not have much discrimination happening within its walls, that does not mean that discrimination is not taking place in the community. “My mom wears a hijab,” he explained, “so when she went to the grocery store the day after [the Paris attacks occurred], there was tension in the air. You could almost feel from the way people looked at you, there was an unjustified fear.”
The campaign chose to focus not on Islam and the problems with discrimination against it, but on discrimination against everyone, and the idea that all people, no matter how different they may look, are still people, who joke, play, and care about their families. It also chose to focus on media itself, and how it portrays Muslims even when it is portraying them in a positive light, simply because of how much focus there is on them.
Ayana said, “Just like you can’t say all Canadians are criminals because we have some criminals, you can’t say all Muslims are bad because some are.”
Ayana is confident in WCI’s ability to treat incoming Syrian refugees with respect and with sensitivity. “I think they’re going to get a warm welcome. Canada’s been one of the most accepting countries so far, and here at WCI people are really inclusive and accepting as well.”
When asked about the attention that Syrian refugees have been receiving as opposed to other refugees, he explained that “it’s because this crisis got more attention, that’s why people have been more willing to go forth and help. I think we should be helping all refugees, but what the Syrian refugee [crisis] does is bring attention to people who are suffering, so it’s a start in helping other people, not just from Syria.”
The poster campaign that the Muslim Student Association is taking on has similar ideals. “I didn’t want to just help Muslims,” Ayana said. “I wanted to stop discrimination for all groups of people.”