New Muslim task force aims to halt spread of racism, xenophobia

CALGARY (660 NEWS) — Next week will mark one month since the terror attack on two New Zealand mosques that left 50 people dead.

The attack hits close to home for the Muslim community, as incidents of racism, hatred, and xenophobia continue to proliferate at home and abroad. Rather than succumb to fear, the Muslim community in Calgary is banding together to take a proactive approach to stem the spread of discrimination and religious intolerance.

“The incidents that have happened all over the world, especially in Christchurch was a catalyst,” Dr. Mukarram Zaidi said it has prompted the community to do something about it, “and the community is looking to the leaders to do something collaboratively.”

Calgarians Against Racism, Violence, and Hate is a task force that brings together Muslims from approximately 22 organizations and sects. Zaidi, and other task force members hope that by engaging other groups including LGBTQ, First Nations in dialogue that it will be able to stunt the growth of religious intolerance from escalating into violent attacks.

In light of controversial statements containing anti-immigrant and discriminatory sentiments from recent political candidates, Muslims are also watching the Alberta election closely to see how leaders are responding to acts of hate and religious intolerance.

“What the community is looking for is seeing stronger leadership” that acknowledges that this is “not acceptable in our community and in our party,” he said. “We haven’t seen that from either party leaders.”

Two UCP candidates: Eva Kiryakos and Caylan Ford were both removed for comments they made. Jeremy Wong who replaced Ford, also raised eyebrows for his position on gay conversion therapy, however, he was not removed from running.

The task force will focus on community collaboration and engagement, education, research, and political activism. There are also plans to conduct a national study to evaluate issues other communities are facing.

-With files from City News reporter Crystal Laderas.

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