On Aug 29th’s afternoon, on one radio show Muslims were being discussed as barbaric, and how there are verses in the Quran that only instruct Muslims about “beheadings,” “killing infidels,” and “how to beat wives,” And how women are “forced” to wear “burqas.”
That same evening, Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty was attending the Eid dinner thrown by the Council for the Advancement of Muslims Professionals (CAMP Toronto Network) and the Downtown Muslim Professionals Network (DMPN).
The gathering presented such a stark difference in how Muslims are still perceived as wife beating violent creatures by the mainstream in a diverse city as Toronto.
In this gathering of Muslim professionals, however, there were men in suit and ties, in skull caps, in sherwanis and much more. Some of these young men were clean shaven, others wore beard, and yes they wore beards in a very fashionable style. The same was true for Muslim women. They wore saris, dresses, latest fashion designer shalwar kameez and other style of dazzling designer dresses.
What I was looking forward to most was what the Premier of one of the most diverse places will say about how Muslims actually are and how they are perceived. While I wasn’t disappointed when Premier McGuinty noted that “the representation of Muslims in media” is so much different than how the community demonstrates itself, more needs to be said. He noted that Islam is a religion of peace and here inOntario“we value each others’ differences.” Mr. McGuinty said that there is no “us” versus “them,” and thatOntariobelieves in “us, all of us.” “We are all moving into the future with the same speed, simultaneously..together.” (Yes, it reminds of last year’s election slogan.)
Many of these young professionals would have appreciated more if the “Education Premier” would have guided them on how to fight the perception versus reality of Muslims, and how the Muslim community can portray itself in a manner where misperceptions remain misperceptions rather than becoming a norm.
While Ontario legislature was debating Back to School legislation, Mr. McGuinty took this community into confidence into why this legislation has to be brought forth.Ontariois in deficit, he said. And the government is asking its partners to accept pay freezes for a couple of years to fight the deficit.
Ontario Premier encouraged these young professionals to join Ontario public service. However he also urged these young professionals to be considerate of the fact thatOntariois in deficit and accepting pay freezes for a couple of years will reflect “commitment to the community.”
Some of the proceeds from this Eid dinner were donated to the Daily Bread Food Bank. Muslims from North America send millions of dollars because they believe that people in North America don’t need their money to fight hunger or poverty. This was an opportunity for Ms. Gail Nyberg to convince these Muslims to donate locally in their communities. However, this brilliant chance was missed to make the case that hunger exists in North America and we need to donate locally.