Kitchener-Waterloo Unity Mosque in solidarity with Black Lives Matter, condemns systemic racism
'We deplore violence and the profound lack of respect shown to Black and Indigenous peoples,' coordinator says
A group of Muslims — who practise an inclusive and compassionate form of Islam — has expressed solidarity with Black people everywhere who are suffering and fighting because of institutionalized anti-Black racism and state-sanctioned violence.
The Kitchener-Waterloo Unity Mosque — a gender-equal and LGBTQ affirmative mosque — is speaking out as anti-Black racism across North America has moved to the forefront of public consciousness with the recent deaths of Regis Korchinski-Paquet, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Ahmaud Aubrey, and Tony McDade to name just a few.
"We proclaim that there is no room for racism in our world," coordinator Fran Pappert-Shannon told CBC News.
"As our prophet proclaimed the fundamental importance of equity and justice, we also declare that Black Lives Matter, and we stand by this truth.
"We deplore violence and the profound lack of respect shown to Black and Indigenous peoples across [North America]," Pappert-Shannon added.
A call for cessation of anti-Black and Indigenous racism
Pappert-Shannon said Unity Mosque members also recognize with acute awareness that Muslim communities are not exempt from racism and discrimination.
In addition to calling for the cessation of anti-Black and Indigenous racism, they are also calling for the end of inequity, isolation and alienation enacted against some Muslims within their own mosques and communities because of their race, cultural background, sect, language, gender identity and sexual orientation.
"As Muslims, we at the Unity Mosque believe that we cannot denounce Islamophobic and discriminatory actions that are committed against our community without recognizing that many of us practise discrimination against our own Muslim siblings, particularly due to the colour of their skin, the country of their origin, their gender, and who they choose to love," Pappert-Shannon said.
"The time for rising up is now. We must listen to, respect, and support the Black and Indigenous voices across Turtle Island, and within our mosques and communities."
"We must align ourselves with anti-racist groups and be on the front lines against systemic racism and institutionalized violence in our country. We must knock on its head the concept of white supremacy and uphold the Islamic principle of justice for all," Pappert-Shannon added.
Meanwhile, Unity Mosque co-founder and imam El-Farouk Khaki members of his Toronto-based mosque experience systemic racism on an on-going based.
"In terms of people's actual lived experience, people will tell me things around difficulty in finding jobs or how they are treated in the workplace differently from non-racialized or non-Black co-workers. The list is long," Khaki told CBC News.
"One person I encountered … was a woman from Africa, Muslim and Black who presented a very sort of proper English name; and what the person told me is that before they changed their name they weren't even able to get an interview.
"When they changed their name legally, all of a sudden they were getting interviews and even job offers," Khaki added.
Voices of Black Muslims are disregarded, coordinators say
The Unity Mosque coordinators point to a need to centre Black voices and recognize the ways in which people contribute to anti-Black racism.
"We must listen to Black Muslims whose voices are disregarded and silenced in the Muslim community," reads a statement from the mosque.
"Often, this silencing is dismissed by asserting that we are equal in the eyes of Allah. Unfortunately, this does not mean we are all treated as equal within our communities."
The time for complacency is over
The Unity Mosque coordinators noted that "the time for complacency is over" and "the time for action is now."
They pointed to a recent statement by University of Toronto professor and author Sherene Razack, who articulated: "We must act to dismantle systemic racism. We must act to disrupt white supremacy. We must acknowledge racist practices and unlearn racist ideologies. We must do better."