Muslim leaders talk to students about Islam
Published Monday, April 4, 2016 6:10PM ADT
A Cape Breton high school invited Muslims from a local mosque to speak with students Monday, in an effort to help eliminate stereotypes and dispel misconceptions about Islam.
Umran Bhatti was inspired to begin holding public discussions about his culture after he experienced a racist encounter at the Sydney Flea Market last fall.
“I had one person come up to me and said, 'go back to your country. I'm going to burn your house down. I'm going to burn your stall down,’” says Bhatti.
Today, he spent time with students at Riverview High School, in Coxheath, N.S. Members of the school’s Interact Club asked him there as a guest speaker.
“We've been raising money to help out Syrian refugees, so I thought it would be a really good idea to get somebody in here to educate our student body and teachers even,” says Lauren Kelly, student.
“There's obviously a lot of negativity towards Muslims and the Islamic community here in Canada and other western countries, so it's great to bring him in and dispel some of those,” says Ryan Magee, student.
Bhatti’s presentation touched on topics like prayer, fasting, and Syrian refugees.
Students say it was an eye-opener.
“When you hear about it on the news, you just see them as refugees, you don't really see them as people,” says Jenny MacPherson, student. “Knowing more about their religion and culture kind of puts a face to them.”
Bhatti says one of the biggest catalysts for change will be refugees themselves, as they settle into our communities showing people first-hand what he calls the true meaning of Islam.
“They will integrate with the community and apply the peaceful teachings. So through that, as well, they will be able to see that not all Muslims are bad people,” says Bhatti.
Bhatti says with troubling misconceptions still making the news, such as Donald Trump's anti-Muslim comments, educating people at a young age is important.
“The young people are the foundation of the future of society. So if they have a better education, they can sometimes help their elders,” says Bhatti.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Ryan MacDonald