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UK: Awareness Week Dispels Negative Image of Islam at Windsor University
The Islamic Awareness Week at the University of Windsor will be held on March 11-15 at the CAW Student Centre.
Displays, literature and presentations will be on offer through the week as the Muslim Students’ Association presents Islamic Awareness Week in the CAW Student Centre.
“This whole week of events is meant to counteract the negative depictions of Islam,” says association executive member Hanan Khaled. “Our dedicated volunteers are there to explain what Islam is all about to those who have any questions.”
Two events highlight the week’s activities: Four converts will share their stories during “Why I Became a Muslim” on Tuesday, March11 and Munir El-Kassem will explain the unique features of the Islamic scriptures in “Quran: A Light Amidst the Darkness,” on Thursday, March 13.
Rima Khaled cannot say how long the University of Windsor has been hosting Islam Awareness Week but she knows it’s still necessary.
It was going on, the director of the annual cultural event said, long before she came to the university to study and she expects it will continue after she has graduated because it fulfills an important need for the school’s Muslim population to express their identity and “raise awareness on campus about the true nature of Islam.”
She said the event, sponsored by the Muslim Students’ Association, has become an important means for Muslims to counteract negative depictions and common misunderstanding of their faith and to foster a more tolerant and accepting atmosphere. Standing amid the displays and information booths of the event at the CAW Student Centre Monday, Khaled said there is a lot of ignorance about the religion.
“Our goal is to raise awareness and be available to address negative perceptions,” she said. “There are a lot of misconceptions because of the media but we’re here to say that we are normal, just like you.”
She said many of the misconceptions in popular culture are that Islam is a severe and strict religion that represses women.
“We have the whole set of rights and freedoms,” she said. “We choose to wear the hijab.”
She said the idea that the traditional head scarf is a symbol of servitude seems to be most widely held by women outside the religion. But when spoken to, and the religious observance is explained, one-on-one, “95 per cent walk away with a more positive impression.”
“Many people believe women are forced to wear the hijab and are oppressed,” she said.”That’s a hot topic but it’s completely not true. It’s not a way to dress it’s a way to act and has to do with character and attitude. It encompasses so much.”
She explained that the hijab is a symbol of strength of character and a way to present oneself respectfully rather than submissively. In fact, she added, the code of conduct that the hijab represents, also applies to the Muslim male, who is also expected to dress modestly.
“Once we explain it and give perspective people walk away and you see a light flick on in their heads,” said Khaled.