New Brunswick

'Islam in Motion' mobile exhibition seeks to tackle bigotry through conversation

The Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association has been travelling across Canada in an effort to allow Canadians to ask any questions about the Muslim faith. They stopped in Fredericton on Sunday.

Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association has travelled across the country to speak about Islamophobia

The Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association has been travelling across the country as part of a mobile exhibition called Islam in Motion. (Mrinali Anchan/CBC)

For 30 year-old Nabil Ahmad Mirza, Islamophobia has been an ongoing struggle. 

"I was born and raised in France and in France … there [is] lots of talk about Islam ... there are lots of misconceptions," Mirza said Sunday.

Mirza has been travelling across Canada with the Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association in an effort to allow Canadians to ask any questions they may have about the Muslim faith. 

The group has been travelling in a truck that has served as a mobile exhibition to carry out their initiative, Islam in Motion: I am a Muslim, Ask Me Anything.

Nabil Ahmad Mirza is an Imam with the Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association (Mrinali Anchan/CBC)

They stopped in Fredericton on Sunday and had discussions with residents as they went about their shopping at grocery stores. 

Growing up hearing about misconceptions related to the religion motivated Mirza to dedicate seven years of his life to further studying the faith and becoming an Imam.

Mary White, a Fredericton resident, approached the group because she wanted to know how they had been received.

"I wanted to know if Muslims face prejudice, and kind of the negativities that seem to be part of cultures in the West, and I was absolutely delighted to hear their response. They have been met with nothing but kindness and acceptance here and that's really heartwarming."

The group has been travelling in a truck that has served as a mobile exhibition and initiative called Islam in Motion: I am a Muslim, Ask Me Anything. (Mrinali Anchan/CBC)

The association started its journey two weeks ago, making stops in Vancouver, Saskatoon, Montreal and Toronto.

In the last leg of their tour, they visited Saint John, Moncton and smaller towns like Oromocto and Grand Bay-Westfield.   

Islamophobic incidents 

Across the country, concern has grown about the number of anti-Muslim hate attacks that have taken place.

In August, Mohammed Benyoussef of Irishtown, N.B., was attacked during a road rage incident while driving into Moncton.

Members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association speak to a woman who had questions about Islam and Islamophobia. (Mrinali Anchan/CBC)

One of the most extreme attacks seen in the country this year occurred when a man fatally attacked a family of five in London, Ont., by running them over with a truck.  Police later said the family was targeted because they were Muslim. 

"We know that in Canada as a whole, we've had many incidents in the past few months and, very sadly as a Muslim, it touched us as well because we've been living in this very multicultural society of Canada," said Mirza.

"We would have never imagined we would seen such hatred toward the Muslim community." 

But Mirza said the response to the mobile exhibition has been overwhelmingly positive and that they have spoken with people from different faiths who expressed an interest in learning more.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mrinali has worked in newsrooms in Toronto, Windsor and Fredericton. She has written and produced stories for CBC's The National, CBC Radio's Cross Country Checkup, CBC News Network and CBC Entertainment News. Have a tip? Mrinali.anchan@cbc.ca

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