News / Edmonton

Muslim women's group fights xenophobic attacks, puts up billboard condemning violence

Following a wave of hateful anti-Muslim posters in the city, Islamic Circle of North America Sisters is inviting the city to learn about their religion

Afshan Fatima stands in front of the billboard put up by the local chapter of ICNA - Sisters to counter misconceptions about Islam.

ALEX BOYD/Metro

Afshan Fatima stands in front of the billboard put up by the local chapter of ICNA - Sisters to counter misconceptions about Islam.

The billboard reads, “Muslims condemn all violence,” and has a phone number for Edmontonians to call to learn more about Islam.

Following a wave of hateful anti-Muslim posters in the city, the local branch of the Islamic Circle of North America Sisters is inviting the city to learn about their religion by placing a billboard at 106 Avenue and 101 Street with that message.

The billboard is part of a larger attempt to dispel misconceptions about what the religion is, according to outreach coordinator Afshan Fatima.

To that end, the group provided relief help after the Fort Mac fire, reached out to other faith groups and is planning outreach events at local mosques.

“We’re neighbours, our kids go to the same schools,” Fatima said. “It’s natural to have concerns, we’d like people to reach out to us, to build bridges, to ask questions.”

There have been at least three waves of anti-Muslim posters and pamphlets being distributed in the city recently, which Fatima calls “concerning.”

One of the posters referred to all Muslim men as pedophiles, and had a URL link at the bottom to an anti-Muslim group called “Stop Islamization of the World.” Another called for the religion to be banned. Police are still investigating.

Fatima calls the messages “hateful” and “xenophobic.”

While she says Canada isn’t seeing the same shift towards anti-immigration as the United States, she said they’d like to see city residents learn more about the religion.

Sajida Asghar, another member of the group, agrees.

“We are living together and we need to know each other, if you don’t know us, how can we live peacefully?

Both women argue that’s what their religion is actually about — peace.

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