MSA Reviews its Collection after Meeting Dean of Students

Concordia’s Muslim Students Association has started removing controversial texts from the their library after meeting with the university’s administration following a TVA report.

A new statement released by Concordia’s director of communications, Chris Mota, stated, “Concordia is not a place where books are censored, either in the MSA collection or elsewhere. The university and the MSA will continue to work together in the weeks ahead.”

Earlier this week, the university made it known that they were taking TVA’s allegations seriously, and the MSA began pulling the books. The MSA executives met with the Dean of Students on Thursday.

The association is currently auditing its collection with the help of the university library. The catalogue has grown slowly over the years through donations.

Last week, a TVA reporter visited the MSA’s library looking for explanations for books found on their web catalogue by radicals who support genital mutilation, domestic abuse and have been banned from entering other countries.

The legitimacy of removing controversial books from a university environment is being questioned.

In an email statement Wednesday, MSA president Majed Jamous reiterated that the books are for academic purposes only.

“We are like any other library by offering any books for purposes of knowing what these authors said,” he wrote.

TVA used unconventional means to report the story when it arrived on the scene without warning and began filming students, who were in the middle of preparations for the following week’s activities, without permission.

“We are like any other library by offering any books for purposes of knowing what these authors said.” — Majed Jamous, Muslim Student Association

Noor Salah, Vice-President for Education at the association, was at the office getting ready for Islamic Awareness Week, which ran from March 2 to 5.

She says she did not consent to being filmed, and thinks the report is one of many against Muslims guided by “fear of the unknown.”

Meanwhile, Islamic Awareness Week was meant to dispel those fears. Booths were set up on the seventh floor of the Hall building, breaking down important elements of the religion and encouraging conversation.

Salah says most people ask about the headscarves every year, so one booth let students try on a hijab or beard.

“Women like to try them on and take photos of them, and they actually realize it’s not as suffocating as people make it seem,” she said.

Yasmin Jiwani, a professor in the communications department, says this situation is part of a wider trend of condemning Muslims.

“To suggest that because they have these [controversial] books, that they’re like that—that’s the implication,” she said.

Controversial discourse such as the submissive role of women in Islam are being opposed by Muslim feminists, she argues.

“This is the sort of debate that is going on all the time with Islam within the theological circles.”

Jiwani says this story and Rania El-Alloul’s ordeal are sending a message to Muslims that they are not a part of Quebec.

El-Alloul was dismissed by a judge when she refused to remove her hijab in court. As a result, the Montreal resident was unable to retrieve her seized car. A crowdfunding campaign raised $44,000 to help her buy a new one.