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Islamophobia in Kingston is very real: Muslim residents share their experiences

Global News logo Global News 2021-06-10 Kayla Karim
A woman sits and weeps at the scene of Sunday's hate-motivated vehicle attack in London, Ont. on Tuesday, June 8, 2021, in honour of the four members of a Muslim family that died and the youngest boy who is in hospital. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Geoff Robins © Provided by Global News A woman sits and weeps at the scene of Sunday's hate-motivated vehicle attack in London, Ont. on Tuesday, June 8, 2021, in honour of the four members of a Muslim family that died and the youngest boy who is in hospital. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Geoff Robins

The Muslim community around the nation is grappling with the horrible act of violence that occurred in London, Ont., earlier this week.

In Kingston, Muslim community members and allies alike stood in solidarity as over 100 people gathered downtown at a vigil to remember the lives of three generations who officials say were targeted because of their Islamic faith.

However, the issue of discrimination and racism still exists.

Mona Rahman, who has lived in Kingston her entire life, says she hasn't experienced any racism, but she knows it is there.

"People are scared. And this attack didn't happen in some place like a mosque. It's very easy to spew hate these days and that can seem like the whole world is against you. But it's important to remember that your community isn't always against you," Rahman says.

Kingston’s Muslim community share their experiences with racism and Islamophobia
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However, Rahman says "right now Islamophobia is something that hasn't been addressed, it hasn't been recognized, and it hasn't been taken seriously."

Other community members say experiencing racism and Islamophobia in Kingston was not something they were surprised about.

Sabrina Masud, a graduate student at Queen's University, moved to Canada three years ago and says she has been harassed twice while living in Kingston. She says she was in a group setting but is afraid of what might happen if she happens to be alone.


Video: Kingston's Muslim community share their experiences with racism and Islamophobia (Global News)

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Read more: Kingston gathers in solidarity with London attack victims, Muslim community

"This incident happened while I was with other people. So even when we are together we don't feel safe. It has its own impact. Those who are instigating these incidents are not afraid of any consequence. That's why they don't care when they attack us," Masud says.

Unfortunately, for those attacked, the effects of these events don't stop when the incident passes.

Meena Waseem is an undergraduate student at Queen's and says although her experience wasn't in person, she is still dealing with the impact of the hate she received.

After managing an account on social media that dealt with racism two months ago, she says people would send hateful direct messages.

"I distinctly remember being harassed with anti-Muslim, Islamophobic hate. Vulgar words and comments that, frankly, left me traumatized," Waseem says.

Read more: Kingston’s Muslim community says that Islamophobia is deeply rooted in Canada

She says the trauma she carries affects her day to day.

The attack in London is proof that racism and Islamophobia is alive and well in Canada.

"In light of recent events that happened in London, I feel that Anti-Muslim hate popped up suddenly but that is not really the case," says Waseem.

For those who continue to deal with the effects of hate — whether related to the London attack or a personal experience — or simply want to be educated, the Queen's Muslim Student's Association is hosting a drop-by care event Friday, June 11 at 6 p.m. It is intended to provide space for those who identify as Muslim to share their stories and experiences. But it is also a space for those who just want to listen and be in a safe space with their community.

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