Muslims in Miramichi invite people to tour mosque, ask questions about Islam
'Meet your Muslim neighbours,' group says in notice of event tonight aimed at fostering education
The Miramichi Islamic Centre will open its doors to everyone tonight for a full tour of the city mosque.
The event is being held by the Miramichi Regional Multicultural Association in partnership with the Miramichi Muslim Association to encourage more education and inclusion.
The idea was in the works for a while but had been derailed because of COVID-19 restrictions.
The associations saw a greater need for it after the attack in London, Ont., last month, when a man ran over four members of a Muslim family in what authorities say was motivated by anti-Muslim hate.
After the attack, Miramichi held a vigil, where Niaz Khan, vice-president of the Muslim association, noticed that members of the community were expressing greater interest in learning about Islam.
"We heard from a lot of people who wanted to know more about how Muslims contribute to Canadian society," said Khan.
So Khan thought the best course of action would be to have people visit the town's mosque.
It's an opportunity for people to educate themselves and speak with people who practise the religion, which could foster a greater sense of community and dispel potentially harmful misconceptions.
"We are not different from anyone else. ... Our kids go to the same school, we go to the same doctors. We believe in faith, freedom, respect and we are peaceful people."
Khan estimates that more than 100 people in the community practise Islam.
A lot of change
"I came here 20 years ago," he said. "At that time, there were a few Muslims.
"But then over time, we got the growth and there's a lot of Muslims from different origins, different cultures, different languages."
The tour will be short, Khan said, since there are only two rooms in the mosque at 514 Water St.
But there will be someone at the desk as well as materials to help answer any questions community members have.
These include a slide-show presentation and copies of the Qur'an, translated into English and given to anybody who wants one, with pamphlets inside as educational material.
A chance to meet new community members
Ibrahim Faizal, the president of the Miramichi Regional Multicultural Association, said the association has been helping newcomers adjust to the community. Now, Faizal also hopes the tour will give people a chance to meet new members of the community.
"We've become part of the community, so it's kind of an introduction and say thank you to the city of Miramichi and the community for welcoming everyone here."
Ultimately, Faizal wants the event to emphasize the importance of treating your fellow community member with respect and kindness.
"I hope everyone realizes that we are all human beings and that we are all together in this world."