By: Sarah Watson
“It has been a difficult weekend for many people, and I would like to begin this week by affirming our commitment as a college to valuing diversity, inclusion and respect,” said Humber President and CEO Chris Whitaker in a statement posted in Chris’s Corner: The President’s Blog, last week.
The statement was a reaction to recent Islamophobic events which made headlines across the globe.
Here in Canada, an attack on a mosque in Quebec City left six dead the day before Whitaker’s remarks, while across the border in the United States, President Donald Trump created an executive order for a travel ban which restricted the entry of citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries.
The ban has since been halted by a U.S. district judge in Seattle, a ruling upheld this week by the 9th Circuit Court. Trump has vowed to continue fighting the decision.
President of the Muslim Student Association at Humber College, Hassan Elbaytam said news of the Quebec city shooting was disturbing.
“There was a feeling of shock all around,” Elbaytam said, “Canada is such an open space, an accepting space, we never expected it to be here. But we can never say never.”
Despite that feeling, Elbaytam, and others in the Muslim community, have experienced a wave of support from those at Humber.
“They’ve been very supportive, from day one.” Elbaytam said.
He’s been contacted by the dean of students, the director of student life, and the chaplain’s office, all offering their support.
“And one of my teachers actually, on Monday, she came to me and she started apologizing,” said Elbaytam. “I’m not sure for what, but it’s just a show of solidarity.”
Some found another way to show their solidarity.
Dan Shaikh, a 26-year-old business analyst, attended a protest on Saturday, known as Against Islamophobia & White Supremacy – National Days of Action, that started outside the US consulate in downtown Toronto.
“It gave me a new perspective on the whole movement of inclusion and what it means,” said Shaikh.
Shaikh had never been to a protest and wanted to see what would happen. Despite the cold, hundreds turned out for the event.
Shaikh said that everyone at the protest was strikingly friendly; a stranger even gave him some tea to warm up. The speeches he saw, including some spoken-word poetry, were impassioned.
“It seemed like they cared a lot,” Shaikh said, “All types of races were there chanting to stand by Muslims. Never seen that before. Having been born in a Muslim environment, it was cool to see so many people cared.”