A Message from the Muslim Students’ Association

Bara Abuhamad of the MSA having conversation with passerby during Islam Awareness Week in the EV building. Courtesy MSA Concordia

In a university known for its diversity, the threats made on Wednesday morning were shocking and out of place.

They represent a disturbing effort to intimidate the campus community at large, and to target Concordia’s Muslim student population during Islam Awareness Week.

The MSA congratulates and thanks law enforcement and the Concordia administration for their prompt response and the measures taken to ensure the safety at the facilities of Concordia University. We thank the Concordia Student Union for their words of solidarity and support. Indeed, “A threat against one of us is indeed a threat against all of us.”

The letter containing the threats mentions a complaint made against the MSA to the student union. However, the association has not received any complaints and we would like to emphasize that we are committed to promoting inclusive and welcoming spaces and fully support the university’s rights and equity policies. Furthermore, the MSA stands shoulder to shoulder with other faith groups, and remains committed to promoting safe and respectful communities. We have an open-door policy and welcome feedback or concerns and are committed to working with concerned parties to rectify any issues that may arise.

Overall, the MSA wants to show the greatest appreciation towards the student body for their support during these hard times. We want to highlight the effort made by Dahlia Madden, the president of the Centre des femmes de l’Université de Québec à Montréal:

“It was important for the Centre des femmes de l’UQÀM to let MSA know we stand in solidarity with them. Because they are students and part of our community. We can’t control the results of Islamophobia but we can control whether we support our community or not. Which is why I lent a hand during Islam Awareness Week. I had the chance to meet resilient members who greeted my presence with open arms. The ambiance was heart warming; many students and staff members came to show their support towards MSA. I witnessed beautiful dialogues opening a better understanding of Islam.”

Unfortunately, we also feel the need to highlight that policies taken in our neighbouring country, and an increase in the number of reported hate crimes within our own country—including the tragic terrorist attack in a Quebec City mosque a few weeks ago—makes Wednesday’s bomb scare mentioning Muslims not a surprise. Canada is by no means immune to this rising hostile political climate, where sadly even a largely symbolic anti-Islamophobia motion like M-103 is being met with opposition.

As students, we often focus on exams and deadlines and do not realize how much we support each other. The Concordia community came together and we received great support from clubs, organizations, and individuals. An unfortunate event brought us together and made more people aware of the issue of Islamophobia.

We do acknowledge the safe environment that Concordia university is, but as we witnessed we are not immune to intolerant individuals or organizations. The solution—or at least one of them—is to keep being open-minded and push for more interfaith dialogue. University is a place where we can find people from all over the world. It is the perfect place to discuss and understand one another in our differences, and to combat stereotypes and discrimination as much as we can.

It is therefore only fitting that our theme for the 2017 Islamic Awareness Week was: “One conversation = one misconception down.”