A Victoria imam hopes to combat Islamophobia by inviting people to share a meal with Muslims during Ramadan.
Speaking at a media event at Victoria City Hall, Ismail Mohamed Nur said anyone is welcome to attend Victoria’s Al-Iman mosque for Iftar, an evening meal to break the daily fast during Ramadan, which started on May 5. The mosque is hosting Iftar every night until Ramadan ends on June 4.
Mohamed Nur said misinformation and a lack of knowledge fuels irrational fears surrounding Islam and Muslims.
The way to combat that fear is through education and events that bridge the divide, he said.
Mohamed Nur encouraged people to attend Iftar at the mosque to interact with Muslims and learn about the faith “from the source itself.”
The ninth month of the Muslim calendar, Ramadan is a holy month, during which Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset. “There is a spirit to the month, and that spirit is generosity,” Mohamed Nur said.
Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps said she plans to fast for a day during Ramadan and invited people to follow her lead in an effort to better understand Muslim customs.
Helps said a rise in hate speech has inspired her to think about what “love speech” looks like.
“How do we counter hate and fear with love?” she asked. “There’s nothing like sharing a meal together, sitting down and really looking each other in the eye and just understanding who we are as human beings.”
The mayor said the city has been building relationships with the Muslim community since a 2017 attack on a mosque in Quebec City that left six people dead.
“I want to reiterate that Victoria is an inclusive, welcoming, loving community,” she said.