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

A Victoria parks staffer turns compost made from organics collected in the parks. Piles of this steaming, nutrient-rich stuff will be handed out between April 12-18. (Zoë Ducklow/News Staff)
Victoria shovels free home-made compost out to gardeners

Ideal for prepping food gardens, the compost, mulch and wood chips will be at city parks for pick up

New programs and services aimed at helping the unhoused find shelter or housing in Victoria, and to take advantage of support services of various kinds, could be funded if a City of Victoria grant application is successful. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria seeks $3M to $4M in grant funds to enhance community services for unhoused population

Various supports, services for unhoused population part of broad-based funding application

Victoria Police Department seized a replica firearm during an early morning call to the 100-block of Gorge Road East on April 11. (VicPD handout)
Victoria police seize replica firearm in early Sunday morning call

Officers called to temporary housing facility in 100-block of Gorge Road East

Road improvements in Sooke are nearing completion . (Dawn Gibson/News Staff)
Sooke road work nears completion

Projects part of $5.7 million in improvements

Vaisakhi normally would have volunteers like these women (in Surrey from a past year) preparing food ahead of the festival to be given out to the hundreds of thousands of spectactors. (Black Press Media file photo)
Greater Victoria Sikhs observe Vaisakhi virtually, but find a way to give out food

Food and taking care of those in need is a big part of Sikh teachings

Burnaby MLA Raj Chouhan presides as Speaker of the B.C. legislature, which opened it spring session April 12 with a speech from the throne. THE CANADIAN PRESS
B.C. NDP promises more health care spending, business support in 2021 budget

John Horgan government to ‘carefully return to balanced budgets’

A youth was arrested following a car crash on Wallace Street on Saturday, April 10. (Karl Yu/News Bulletin)
Onlookers laugh and jeer as B.C. teen beaten, then forced to strip and walk home

Police arrest older teen, call video shared on social media ‘disturbing’

A lady wears a sticker given out after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count slows after last week’s peak

3,219 new cases since Friday, 18 additional deaths

North Cowichan councillor Tek Manhas did not violate the municipality’s code of conduct by posting a sexist meme on Facebook, council concludes. (File photo)
B.C. municipality to take no action against councillor who posted sexist meme

Tek Manhas’s meme doesn’t violate North Cowichan council’s code of conduct, municipality concludes

A 41-person air task force, including 12 members from 407 Long Range Patrol Squadron at 19 Wing Comox, seized more than $3 million CND worth of cocaine as part of Op Caribbe. Photo by Canadian Armed Forces Operations/Facebook
Vancouver Island team helps make $368 million three-tonne cocaine seizure

12 members from 19 Wing Comox involved in Op Caribbe

Killer whales surface near Sebastion Beach in Lantzville on Sunday, April 11. (Photos courtesy Ella Smiley)
Chainsaw and friends near the beach thrill orca watchers in Lantzville

Jagged-finned orca named Chainsaw and 17 others spent hours off Sebastion Beach this weekend

Nootka Sound RCMP and DFO Conservation and Protection Officers seized this 30 foot vessel, fishing gear and equipment as well as Chinook salmon, salmon roe, rock fish and ling cod after an investigation on Sept. 11. A judge in Campbell River on February hit the owner and his accomplices with significant fines, a ban on holding fishing licences and loss of equpment, including the boat’s motor and trolling motor. RCMP photo
Washington State trio’s fisheries violations the worst veteran officer has seen in 20 years

Judge bans three men from fishing or holding a fishing licence anywhere in Canada

—Image: contributed
Indoor wine tastings still allowed in B.C., not considered a ‘social gathering’

“Tasting is really just part of the retail experience. The analogy I use is you wouldn’t buy a pair of pants without trying them on.”

A sign on a shop window indicates the store is closed in Ottawa, Monday March 23, 2020. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business is raising its estimate for the number of businesses that are considering the possibility of closing permanently. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Small business struggling amid COVID-19 pandemic looks for aid in Liberals’ budget

President Dan Kelly said it is crucial to maintain programs to help businesses to the other side of the pandemic

Most Read