Bridging Gaps Foundation organizes booths in cities around the Lower Mainland and on university campuses as a way to bridge the gap between Muslims and non-Muslims through education and discussion. (Bridging Gaps Foundation photo)

Bridging Gaps Foundation organizes booths in cities around the Lower Mainland and on university campuses as a way to bridge the gap between Muslims and non-Muslims through education and discussion. (Bridging Gaps Foundation photo)

Group targeted with anti-Islam hate speech while hosting ‘Meet a Muslim’ booth in Vancouver

Bridging Gaps Foundation said incident highlights how much work Canada still needs to do

A B.C. Muslim group is calling for kindness and understanding after being berated by a woman in Vancouver while hosting a Meet a Muslim outreach event on Robson Street earlier this week.

Members of the Bridging Gaps Foundation were at a booth in downtown Vancouver on Dec. 27 when president Adnan Akiel said a woman walked up to his team and started shouting hateful insults and anti-Muslim comments.

The group organizes booths in cities around the Lower Mainland and on university campuses as a way to bridge the gap between Muslims and non-Muslims through education and discussion.

“Our immediate response to aggression is that we let people speak, so that is what was done,” Akiel told Black Press Media.

“Then when we engaged in a conversation, that invitation was refused and returned with more insults.”

That’s when Akiel started recording the incident as a colleague called the Vancouver police.

ALSO READ: B.C. minister says she ‘cannot remain silent’ about increase in anti-Asian hate crimes

A video posted to the group’s Facebook page shows the unidentified woman berating the group for at least another five minutes. Akiel said she left before police arrived.

The latest situation is one of several that have been highlighted in a year of reckoning for racism.

(Bridging Gaps Foundation photo)

(Bridging Gaps Foundation photo)

“I want to highlight as a group and as an individual that I don’t think this person represents our city and province,” Akiel said, adding that they didn’t post the video to shame her, but instead to show a clear gap in how all faiths and cultures co-exist in the country.

“At the same time, one cannot deny that such individuals and such ideologies and such sentiments – whether it is anti-Muslim or sentiments against other minorities – is in our province.”

Earlier this year, amid the height of the pandemic, Vancouver police announced a spike in anti-Asian hate crimes in the city.

READ MORE: Anti-racism protesters gather in communities across B.C.

Statistics Canada’s latest data from 2018 shows that Jewish and Muslim people continued to be the most frequently targeted groups for religion-based hate crimes reported to police. Advocates estimate two-thirds of all incidents go unreported.

Due to bans on gatherings and safety risks associated with COVID-19, Akiel and the Bridging Gaps team turned their Meet a Muslim events virtual for much of the year in the form of a website, which provides reading material and one-on-one discussions through video, email and phone calls.

READ MORE: ‘Am I racist?’ campaign asks British Columbians to confront their unconscious biases

Akiel said he wants to see federal and provincial government make commitments to provide more specific programs addressing racism in schools, university and workplaces.

As for the woman in the video, “If she was was to contact us again, we would be absolutely delighted to explain to her what Islam is.”

Warning: Video contains disturbing, offensive content.

You can watch the video here.


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

racism

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Shane Ertmoed’s application for Escorted Temporary Absences was granted following a hearing May 4, 2021. (File photo)
Surrey child-killer an ‘average’ risk to sexually reoffend: Parole Board

Written reasons behind approval of Shane Ertmoed’s request for escorted absences shared

This map illustrates the number of active COVID-19 cases in Greater Vancouver from May 2 to 8, 2021. (BC Centre for Disease Control image)
Active COVID-19 cases in Delta down to six-week low

169 cases May 2 to 8; overall number in Fraser Health down for the third week in a row

Trucks line up for food during a drive-thru event on the PNE grounds last May. (Photo: Darryl Dyck/CP)
Drive-thru food truck fest coming to North Surrey Secondary lot

School a ‘great location – high traffic, very visible, and a very large parking lot’

Volunteers unload 1,000 meal kits at the Cloverdale Community Kitchen May 12. CCK was gifted the meals from Goodfood and distributed the entire truckload to the needy in less than 24 hours. (Photo: Submitted)
Cloverdale Community Kitchen distributes 1,000 meals in less than 24 hours

Meal kits went to charities in Surrey, Langley, White Rock

Prince Rupert was one of the first B.C. communities targeted for mass vaccination after a steep rise in infections. Grey area marks community-wide vaccine distribution. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. tracks big drop in COVID-19 infections after vaccination

Prince Rupert, Indigenous communities show improvement

The bodies of Carlo and Erick Fryer were discovered by a local couple walking on a remote forest road in Naramata on May 10. (Submitted)
Kamloops brothers identified as pair found dead near Penticton

The bodies of Carlo and Erick Fryer were discovered by a local couple walking

Municipal governments around B.C. have emergency authority to conduct meetings online, use mail voting and spend reserve funds on operation expenses. (Penticton Western News)
Online council meetings, mail-in voting option to be extended in B.C.

Proposed law makes municipal COVID-19 exceptions permanent

A nurse prepares a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in Kelowna on Tuesday, March 16. (Phil McLachlan/Black Press)
British Columbians aged 20+ can book for vaccine Saturday, those 18+ on Sunday

‘We are also actively working to to incorporate the ages 12 to 17 into our immunization program’

The AstraZeneca-Oxford University vaccine. (AP/Eranga Jayawardena)
2nd person in B.C. diagnosed with rare blood clotting after AstraZeneca vaccine

The man, in his 40s, is currently receiving care at a hospital in the Fraser Health region

Brian Peach rescues ducklings from a storm drain in Smithers May 12. (Lauren L’Orsa video screen shot)
VIDEO: Smithers neighbours rescue ducklings from storm drain

Momma and babies made it safely back to the creek that runs behind Turner Way

Signage for ICBC, the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia, is shown in Victoria, B.C., on February 6, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
$150 refunds issued to eligible customers following ICBC’s switch to ‘enhanced care’

Savings amassed from the insurance policy change will lead to one-time rebates for close to 4 million customers

Lorna Seip touches up the mural on the wall at MRSS, working with students from the Rainbow Club. (Neil Corbett/The News)
Rainbow club puts message of inclusion at Maple Ridge School’s main entrance

Maple Ridge secondary grad says SOGI symbols are powerful

Police investigate a fatal 2011 shooting in a strip mall across from Central City Shopping Centre, which was deemed a gang hit. The Mayor’s Gang Task Force zeroed in on ways to reduce gang involvement and activity. (File photo)
COVID-19 could be a cause in public nature of B.C. gang violence: expert

Martin Bouchard says the pandemic has changed people’s routines and they aren’t getting out of their homes often, which could play a role in the brazen nature of shootings

Most Read