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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Details will be made available in the next few days. (File photo)
UPDATED: Community vaccine program to open in Golden

The clinic will be held from Saturday, May 8 until Sunday, May 16.

A medical worker prepares vials of the COVID-19 vaccines, Chinese Sinopharm, left, Sputnik V, center, and Pfizer at a vaccine centre, in the Usce shopping mall in Belgrade, Serbia, Thursday, May 6, 2021. Serbian authorities are looking for incentives for people to boost vaccination that has slowed down in recent weeks amid widespread anti-vaccination and conspiracy theories in the Balkan nation. The government has also promised a payment of around 25 euros to everyone who gets vaccinated by the end of May. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
38 new COVID-19 cases, more than 335k vaccines administered in Interior Health

Interior Health also to start targeted vaccinations in high transmission neighbourhoods

FILE PHOTO
Second doses of COVID-19 vaccine will be available, as AstraZeneca supply runs low: Interior Health

Province expecting large volumes of Pfizer BioNTech as age-based cohort immunization program ramps up

Greg Nesteroff and Eric Brighton, the historians behind popular Facebook page Lost Kootenays, are set to release a book of the same name and have just unveiled its cover showing the ghostly Hotel in Slocan City shortly before its 1953 demolition. Photo courtesy of Greg Nesteroff and Eric Brighton.
Popular historical Facebook page Lost Kootenays set to release book

128-page hard copy documenting history of East and West Kootenays coming this fall

Al Kowalko shows off the province's first electric school bus, running kids to three elementary and two secondary schools on the West Shore. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
Okanagan schools shifting gears to electric buses

Vernon, Central Okanagan, Rocky Mountain and Okanagan-Skaha on board

(The Canadian Press)
Trudeau won’t say whether Canada supports patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

‘Canada is at the table to help find a solution’

Five properties have been added to the Lake Country fire protection zone, after council moved to expand the local service area Tuesday, May 4, 2021. (Google Maps)
Lake Country expands fire protection zone, covering 5 exposed properties

The properties petitioned to join the local service area after being left out ‘for reasons unknown’

VSAR’s Air Rescue One unit assisted in a rescue in West Kelowna May 3, 2021. (VSAR screenshot)
VIDEO: VSAR’s Air Rescue One team assists in West Kelowna Rescue

The Vernon Search and Rescue helicopter team pulled off a successful rescue Monday

Peachland resident and cleanup volunteer Lloyd Stinson Sotas holds up a discarded TV riddled with bullet holes. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
PHOTOS: Peachland residents clean up community watershed

More than 70 people gave back to Mother Earth by assisting with the cleanup

Officials are surveying the streets of Vernon to get a better sense of the issue of homelessness in the city, as part of the province’s point-in-time homeless count for 2021. (Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)
Province conducts homeless count in Vernon

It’s the first time Vernon has been included in the provincial homeless count

A map showing where the most number of cases were recorded from April 23 to 29. This map, revealing a breakdown of infections by neighborhood, was pulled from a data package leaked to the Vancouver Sun last week (and independently verified).
36 Abbotsford schools flagged for COVID-19 exposures in the last 2 weeks, shattering record

Clearbrook Elementary recorded an ‘exposure’ on all 11 school days

A proposed development would see two four-storey affordable housing complexes erected on Adair Street in Armstrong, next to the Nor-Val Arena. (Google Maps)
Local tenants to be prioritized for Armstrong affordable housing project

Staff have drafted an expression of interest to find a developer to move forward with on the project

Canada’s chief public health officer is reminding Canadians even those who are fully vaccinated are not immune from transmitting the COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s top doctor warns full vaccination does not equal full protection from COVID-19

Post-inoculation, Theresa Tam says the risk of asymptomatic infection and transmission is far lower but not obsolete

Most Read