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

Bella Coola Valley Arts Council’s (BCVAC) Ida Eriksen enjoys a full life since retiring to the Bella Coola Valley Coola in 2013. She volunteers for BCVAC and likes to carve out time for art, gardening and hiking. (Photo submitted)
Art House Gallery keeps community connections close during COVID times

An art sale of the artwork of Ernest and Jill Hall will take place this weekend

A grass fire west of Williams Lake, seen here Tuesday, is considered to be being held by members of the BC Wildfire Service. (Photo submitted)
Photo collage of loved ones lost to substance use and overdose. (Photo courtesy Moms Stop The Harm)
B.C. overdose deaths still rising 5 years after public health emergency declared

Moms Stop the Harm calls on B.C. to provide safe supply in response to deadly illicit drug use

A black bear tries to get at a bird feeder at a home near Williams Lake. (Laura Ulrich photo)
Managing bear attractants a top priority in B.C. for 2021: Conservation Officer Service

Garbage, fruit trees, bird feeders, compost and livestock are common attractants for bears

B.C. Cattlemen’s Association general manager Kevin Boon. (B.C. Cattlemen’s Association photo)
COVID, BSE, water access and private land rights: B.C. Cattlemen’s general manager weighs in

Kevin Boon said positive aspect of pandemic is more people interested in where their food comes from

A woman wears a protective face covering to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as she walks past the emergency entrance of Vancouver General Hospital in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Top doctor warns B.C.’s daily cases could reach 3,000 as COVID hospitalizations surge

There are more than 400 people in hospital, with 125 of them in ICU

The father of Aaliyah Rosa planted a tree and laid a plaque in her memory in 2018. (Langley Advance Times files)
Final witness will extend Langley child murder trial into May or June

Lengthy trial began last autumn with COVID and other factors forcing it to take longer than expected

The corner of 96th Avenue and Glover Road in Fort Langley now has traffic signals, and new “touchless” signal activation buttons. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance Times)
Busy Fort Langley intersection gets ‘touchless’ crosswalk signals

The new traffic light started operation in April

A crossing guard stops traffic as students wearing face masks to curb the spread of COVID-19 arrive at Ecole Woodward Hill Elementary School, in Surrey, B.C., on Tuesday, February 23, 2021. A number of schools in the Fraser Health region, including Woodward Hill, have reported cases of the B.1.7.7 COVID-19 variant first detected in the U.K. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
COVID-infected students in Lower Mainland schools transmitting to 1 to 2 others: data

Eight to 13 per cent of COVID cases among students in the Lower Mainland were acquired in schools, B.C. says

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Norm Scott, president of Royal Canadian Legion Branch # 91, is disappointed the Legion does not qualify for COVID financial assistance from the provincial government. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C.’s pandemic aid package passing Legion branches by

Federal non-profit status stymies provincial assistance eligibility

Latest modelling by public health shows cases generated by COVID-19 infections into places where it can spread quickly. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
Industrial sites, pubs, restaurants driving COVID-19 spread in B.C.

Infection risk higher in offices, retail, warehouses, farms

Vancouver Canucks forward J.T. Miller said it would be “very challenging and not very safe” for him and his teammates to play as scheduled on Friday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Canucks’ return to ice postponed again after players voice COVID health concerns

Friday’s game against the Edmonton Oilers was called off after the team met virtually with the NHLPA

Most Read