Author: Kathryn Greenaway
Source: Montreal Gazette
I don’t wear a scarf in public. That way people don’t hate you as much. I know young Muslim families who won’t give their babies Muslim names because they don’t want them to be bullied. – Amira Elias, vice-president of the Montreal chapter of the Canadian Council of Muslim Women
Elias has worn many the hat as a teacher, school principal, author, filmmaker, dedicated volunteer, spiritual animator and real estate agent. She is also a Canadian Muslim with a mission.
Elias wants to foster better relations between the Muslim community and Canadians at large through discourse. And she said the media can help set the tone. She would like to see the media here and around the world tread more carefully when reporting the facts in the days following murderous attacks, such as the 2014 attacks at the Canadian War Memorial in Ottawa and in a parking lot in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu which left two soldiers dead.
Elias supports the media taking a more measured tone and confirming details before releasing reports that could incite fear and hatred of an entire community.
“I propose that an investigation be done on the background of these (homegrown) attackers,” Elias said. “Most of them are not even born Muslim. They are mentally unstable individuals who were radicalized. They commit a crime shortly after they convert to Islam, so the attack is declared the media as ‘Islamic terrorism’.”
Elias, who lives in Beaconsfield, travelled to Ottawa this week with a group from the Montreal chapter of the CCMW to show support for MP Iqra Khalid who spearheaded the anti-Islamophobia Motion-103. The motion, which passed in parliament last month, calls for the government to condemn religious discrimination and systemic racism.
The motion also calls for a standing committee to collect data on hate crimes.
“If a crime is committed by the Mafia, do the media call it “Christian terrorism”,” Elias said. “When I hear ‘Islamic terrorism’ in the news it makes my blood boil.”
Elias said she wore a hijab when she first came to Canada in 1966, but eventually stopped because “when I went shopping, people wouldn’t serve me.”
She and her husband raised three daughters she described as “very strong, opinionated women.”
The oldest is a judge in Scotland and the two other daughters are marketing executives in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
“Muslim Canadians are an educated people who contribute to society,” Elias said. “We don’t deserve to to have this kind of hatred against us. It is our duty as Canadian women to support (Khalid).”