Westdale Muslim Students Organize Ring of Peace
By Juliana Gligoric
Hundreds of students and staff members joined hands to surround Westdale Secondary School in a “ring of peace” Feb. 13 organized by the school’s Muslim Student’s Association (MSA) to pay respect to victims of the Quebec mosque shootings.
The MSA aims to raise awareness and to change the narrative surrounding Islam. The group has planned events such as Islam Awareness Week, which included workshops, guest speakers and positive messages about Islam shared with Westdale staff and students. Creating the ring of peace symbolized unity and solidarity at Westdale.
“We are trying to establish a presence in our school,” said Gachi Issa, secretary of MSA. “We are trying to give a voice to Muslims and to make sure they are heard.”
The ring of peace came together on a cold Monday during lunch period. Students streamed out of the building, and filled the sidewalk as local media outlets arrived to chat with organizers.
“In the last few months, I have noticed an increase in Islamophobia in our community as well as around the world,” said Sabreina Dahab, vice-president of MSA.
She says it is important to remind students that Islam stands for peace and submission. “I wanted to do something to promote unity and to show people what Islam actually is,” Dahab said.
The ring of peace was a success, but MSA stresses that more needs to be done to stop Islamophobia.
“We are fighting for a safe space, fighting for our presence to be known, and we demand that we be acknowledged as Canadians,” Issa said.
Westdale’s Muslim Student’s Association is collaborating with other student groups to plan a diversity week beginning March 6.
“We hope that Westdale and Hamilton can see that we want to support Muslims, and that we are against Islamophobia, against discrimination and we reject discrimination of any kind,” Issa said.