TORONTO – More than 150 Muslim community leaders joined the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) for their annual luncheon briefing on the state of Canadian Muslim civil rights at the Intercontinental Toronto Center last December 22.
Each year, the briefing provides a unique window into the public advocacy issues affecting Canadian Muslims, providing a much-needed space for leaders to come together and reflect on the successes of the past year and how we can work together in the year ahead.
The theme of this year’s briefing was ‘Beyond the Headlines: Elections, Populism & You.’
Together, the participants discussed the challenges of far-right populism for Muslim communities as the 2019 federal election approaches – a year that is sure to be pivotal for Canada’s Muslim community.
The briefing was led by NCCM Deputy Director Nadia Hasan who provided an overview of key issues and trends and the NCCM’s advocacy in promoting the public interests of Canadian Muslims through grassroots engagement, defending civil liberties, public policy and more.
NCCM Quebec-based Board Member Stephen Brown then discussed the very unique socio-political environment in Quebec, the challenges faced by Quebec Muslims and what the NCCM will be doing to ensure Islamophobia and discrimination do not go unchecked
The luncheon also featured a special presentation by Mohamad Fakih, President and CEO of Paramount Fine Foods, who shared how he and his family were subjected to vicious Islamophobic verbal attacks in public, and how they fought back and won
Fakih shared some of the lessons from his struggle with a captivated audience, saying: “What we are telling them when we are silent is ‘keep doing what you are doing’. Our silence is not okay in our condemnation of hatred and bigotry.”
Attendees were then invited to take a deep dive into the topic of elections and populism through a live interview with New York City-based journalist Murtaza Hussain of The Intercept, conducted by Prof. Sulaimon Giwa of Memorial University.
At this year’s briefing, NCCM honored two individuals who make NCCM’s protection of fundamental rights and freedoms possible.
The NCCM presented Outstanding Volunteers of the Year awards to Prof. Faisal Bhabha, Chair of the NCCM’s National Security Policy Committee, and to Mihad Fahmy, Chair of the NCCM’s Human Rights Committee.
“These two individuals inspire us as they have dedicated several years to giving their skills, and their hearts, to seeking justice for members of our community,” said NCCM.