Muslims and non-Muslims came together for an open discussion about Islamophobia at the University of Windsor Monday, in an effort to break down stereotypes and suggest possible solutions.
Admira Konjic, vice president of student advocacy for the university's student alliance, organized the discussion titled 'Debunking the Myth: What is Islamophobia,' on a subject closely linked to her personal experience.
"I personally used to wear the scarf and being a Muslim woman I had a lot of experiences dealing with customers, dealing with individuals around me that identified as Islamophobes, that is the fear or prejudice against Muslims," she explained, adding sometimes people perceived her as "threatening."
The fourth-year criminology student said her goal with the event was to create a space where people felt comfortable discussing the sometimes tricky topic.
"I decided to host a panel with different professors and students discussing what Islamophobia means, what Islam stands for, how they identify as allies, as followers of the faith and how other students can help out," she said.
The panel addressed topics including Islamophobia in a school setting, stereotypes and what it means to be white and Muslim.
The group also discussed "Islamoracism", a term used to describe a non-Muslim who experiences Islamophobia because of the colour of their skin.
Jocelyn Gates is a non-muslim student at the University of Windsor. She was one of five panelist who participated in the event out of a desire to learn.
"I'm here ... to be a better ally," she said, explaining the event was about education, not hate.
Ahmed Khalifa says islamophobia is real at the U. "Why did the U cancel all of its Arabic courses when there's a large Arab population?" pic.twitter.com/XyNVpRNj1X— @MelNakhavoly
Another panelist, Ahmed Khalfia, said he's faced Islamophobia in Windsor and described it as a growing problem in need of a solution.
"I think the first step to solving a problem or an issue we have in society is starting a conversation," said the fourth-year student. "Today I think is a great way to start that through this panel and through this discussion."