News / Calgary

Anti-Islam graffiti appears days before Calgary mosque open house

The incident is the third in recent months that appears to target Calgary’s Muslim community

Shima Safwat, founder and CEO of One Nation Foundation, encourages non-Muslims to ask questions about her faith.

Elizabeth Cameron/For Metro

Shima Safwat, founder and CEO of One Nation Foundation, encourages non-Muslims to ask questions about her faith.

A burned Qur-an. A smashed glass door.

This weekend, it was anti-Islam graffiti that showed up on a playground near a Ranchlands Mosque, days before the Muslim Association of Canada’s Calgary Chapter hosted an open house for their non-Muslim neighbours.

It’s third incident in Calgary within the past year that appears to target Muslims.

“Everyone feels it’s very un-Calgarian,” said Shima Safwat, founder and CEO of One Nation Foundation, which aims to connect Muslims and non-Muslims through events and activities.

The Al-Salam Centre in northwest Calgary organized Sunday’s open house to give non-Muslims a chance to ask frank and honest questions about Islam – something Safwat said needs to happen more often.

“Muslims are your friends and neighbours, they want to have a good relationship with the community,” she said.

“Sometimes I feel there are so many barriers between Muslims and non-Muslims because we are not connected that much, and people are afraid to ask about our religion.”

As a Muslim woman, Hana Kadri said she invites questions about her faith. The most common query she gets is about the hijab or niqab.

“Women choose whatever is comfortable for them, it really comes down to personal choice,” she explained, cloaked in a niqab covering everything but her eyes.

“I wear the niqab because I wanted to do more (to follow the prophet),” she said. “Some women feel it’s enough to wear the hijab.”

After wearing a hijab for many years, Kadri said she “didn’t think twice” about how non-Muslim Canadians would react when she decided to up her modesty game and don a niqab.

“It shows who I am – it’s not like I shy away from being Muslim,” Kadri said, laughing.

“Obviously if you’re wearing something in public, you want to be known.”

Kadri said it’s a matter of pride for Muslim women, including herself.

“(The women are) doing it out of their own choice – give them the respect that they’re doing it because they understand it and they want to do it. Why label them as oppressed?” she said.

“If you don’t know about something, learn about it. Don’t fear it,” she adds.

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