Windsor Muslims hold open house to challenge misconceptions

Windsorites were invited to an open house to learn what it's like to practice the Islamic faith.

'It's our differences that make us stronger,' says volunteer

Aliya Arif organized the ICNA Sisters Canada Islamic Heritage Exhibition to help provide answers to misconceptions of Islam. (Stacey Janzer/CBC)

Muslim women with the Islamic Circle of North America Sisters Canada put on an Islamic heritage exhibit at Windsor's Optimist Community Centre so Windsorites could learn more about Islam.

The exhibit featured booths including the history of Islam, modern Islam, and what it's like to be an Islamic woman. Attendees also got a chance to put on a hijab and have henna done for free.

Organizer Aliya Arif said she hoped to provide answers about Islam.

Two young women put henna designs on their hands. (Stacey Janzer/CBC)

"We want to bring more awareness of Islam," said Arif.

Right now, said Arif, some people malign Islam. She wanted people to have the chance to talk to practicing Muslims, to learn the truth about the religion.

Some of the women at the event wanted to have open conversations with people of other religions, in part because of the recent U.S. election.

The open house was a chance to "show people what you are and why you shouldn't be scared of anybody who's different, and because it's our differences that make us stronger," said volunteer Sidra Anise.

"I am scared," Anise said. "I think this takes a mental toll on you and you're not comfortable being who you are anymore."

Anise believes the best way to combat fear is to let people know you are there for them, be kind, and to not standby if you are seeing someone bullied.

"Today it's us, tomorrow it could be somebody else," Anise said.