University of Toronto gets Muslim chaplain who hopes to fight stereotypes

News Agencies – September 28, 2012

 

The University of Toronto hired its first full-time Muslim chaplain and the man taking up the post hopes to combat stereotypes surrounding the faith. Amjad Tarsin is a 28-year-old of Libyan descent who hails from Ann Arbour, Mich. He began to devote himself to the religion when he was in university, dropping out of law school to get a degree in Muslim chaplaincy.

Tarsin sees himself as a different kind of Muslim chaplain, one who has travelled the world and identifies himself as a movie buff — especially when it comes to Japanese samurai films and the Lord of the Rings series. Tarsin’s goal is to have an open dialogue with students and create a strong Canadian Muslim identity on a campus with close to 5,000 Muslim students. To fill the position, the Muslim Students Association raised $70,000 with an online campaign that began in June. Funding came from around the world, with contributions pouring in from as far away as Denmark.

Opinion Piece by Jonathan Kay who suggests Islamophobia exists in Canada

The National Post – June 19, 2012

This opinion piece captures Jonathan Kay’s talk as a panelist at the “Message of Peace: Countering Islamophobia” conference, hosted by the University of Toronto’s Muslim Students’ Association and ICNA Canada. He says, “Contrary to what some pundits argue, I do believe Islamophobia is a real phenomenon. Which is to say: I do believe there are some Canadians out there who have an irrational fear of Islam. For these purposes, I define “irrational fear” as a fear that goes beyond (a) the very real, legitimate and widely shared fear of Islamist terrorism; and (b) the very real, legitimate and widely shared concern about retrograde Islamist attitudes toward women being imported into Canadian society.”

 

“Overall, I think Canada likely ranks as one of the least Islamophobic nations in the Western world (just as it is one of the least anti-Semitic nations in the Western world). This is not because Canadians are particularly wonderful people — but, rather, because we happen to have a generally well-educated and well-integrated Muslim minority population. Unlike many of the nations of Europe, there is no Canadian equivalent of the impoverished, ghetto-like Muslim cités on the outskirts of Paris, or the no-go (for non-Muslim) areas in central England. There are a few radical mosques in Canada with some bad apples, but they are well-penetrated by intelligence agents and informants.”

 

“The Muslim community in Canada needs to form a moderate, professional, authoritative NGO that brings together the alphabet soup of smaller groups that already exist; and which gives journalists and politicians a one-stop shop for liaising with Muslims on an organizational level.”

Montreal Islamic group defends itself by saying message is misunderstood

CTV – October 21, 2011

An Islamic group whose presence in Montreal sparked controversy has insisted that its message has been misunderstood. The Islamic Education and Research Academy (iERA) is a UK-based group that describes itself on its website as an “international dawah organization committed to educating and informing humanity about the truth and noble message of Islam.” However, a speech by the group’s chairman Abdurraheem Green, where he suggested it is alright for a husband to use physical force on his wife, drew a lot of negative attention to the group.

It led Concordia University’s Muslim Students’ Association to cancel a planned speech, but a Montreal group affiliated with the Muslim Association of Canada found another venue for another iERA lecturer to speak.