Muslim woman deals with racism, feels support during Multicultural Week

This year Saskatchewan Multicultural Week falls at a time where questions of race and religion are heated topics following terrorist attacks in Paris on Friday.

Faeeza Moolla says anger has been misdirected since attacks on Paris

Rhonda Rosenberg with the Multicultural Council of Saskatchewan and Faeeza Moola, a Muslim immigrant from South Africa joined The Morning Edition's host Sheila Coles to talk about the discrimination Muslims are facing in the wake of the Paris attacks. 12:39

Amidst a rash of racially-charged comments and actions in Canada following Friday's attacks in Paris, a Saskatchewan organization is pushing forward in its celebration of Multicultural Week. 

The annual event is organized by the Multicultural Council of Saskatchewan. Executive Director with the organization, Rhonda Rosenberg, says supporting all cultures is crucial, especially at tumultuous times.

"This is a time we really need to have empathy. We need to be working from our heads and our hearts," Rosenberg said. 

"We need to remember that when refugees are coming here, they're coming from unimaginable situations for us, and we need as communities to really come together and support them."

Community feeling backlash and support

Although not a refugee, Faeeza Moolla is experiencing the backlash from the Paris attacks first hand as a Muslim immigrant. 

Moolla, who immigrated to Canada from South Africa during Apartheid years ago, said she has noticed a big change in how she and others are getting treated since Friday.

"I felt like my shoulders are getting heavier and heavier carrying this burden," Moolla said.  

Faeeza Moolla, a Muslim immigrant to Regina, Sask., from South Africa, condemns the attacks on Paris. (Micki Cowan/CBC)

Moolla said although some are going out of their way to be kind, she's concerned by racist comments online and threats being made in Canada to members of the Muslim community.

She said she heard about a young student in Regina who was told her friend isn't allowed to play with Muslim children.

"On Monday morning the little girl was told 'My mom said I can't be friends with you anymore," Moolla said. 

She said these kinds of comments are hurtful, scary and misdirected against people who have nothing to do with ISIS. 

"In my eyes, the people who are doing it are not Muslims. In no way do I identify with them. In no way do they represent me. They've hijacked our religion," she said.

Rosenberg said everyone needs to take a stand to encourage the values of multiculturalism, not just people of a visible minority. 

"We need to recognize and reject racism. There is work for everybody to do in those areas," Rosenberg said. 

Multicultural Week continues until Nov. 22. 

Rhonda Rosenberg and Faeeza Moolla were guests on CBC's Morning Edition on Nov. 18 to discuss the current state of multiculturalism following the attacks on Paris on Friday. (Micki Cowan/CBC)