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Canada Muslim Women Learn Self-Defense

EDMONTON – A leading Muslim organization in Edmonton, Alberta, is organizing a new safety workshop for Muslim women, in order to give them practical tips on dealing with abuse and violence.

“The amount of Islamophobic violence we’ve been seeing in the last year compared to other years has been quite significant … it hasn’t gone away,” organizer Nakita Valerio, VP of external affairs at Alberta Muslim Public Affairs Council (AMPAC), told Edmonton Metro on Tuesday, August 16.

“And violence against women is always prevalent, so it’s timely and necessary information women need.”

The workshop, led by a black belt instructor with Strong Orange Violence Protection, is the first similar event to be organized by AMPAC.

It aims to give Muslim women the tools they need to deal with violence, defend themselves and get home safely.

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One of the practical tips it gives to Muslim women is how to defend themselves against someone trying to rip off their hijabs.

Held at the Westmount Fitness Center on August 25, the instructor will be dressed in a hijab and long skirt to reflect real-life situations.

“One of the best pieces of advice [the instructor gives] is whatever you have to do to get home safe is the right thing — whether that’s staying silent, saying something or calling an authority,” Valerio said.

Valerio said there has been “big-time demand” for such classes since she personally organized one, prior to joining AMPAC, at a mosque last December.

She said she hopes AMPAC can organize workshops every six months.

The course comes a few months after AMPAC launched an Islamophobia hotline in March.

Ever since, there has seen an increasing number of calls, about three to four a day on average, according to AMPAC president Faisal Khan Suri.

“We’re actually looking to get more people to man the calls,” he said.