A Canadian Muslim group has released a report detailing the racism faced by Black Muslims in Edmonton, putting forth recommendations to improve inclusivity.
The Anti-Racism Muslim Collaborative (AMC) released the report based on the community engagement sessions, noting areas of improvement to make Muslim spaces more inclusive, safe and welcoming for Black Muslims, CBC reported.
Some of the issues addressed by the report included the lack of spaces for Black people in Muslim communities, inclusivity for non-Arabic speaking Muslims, and representation in Muslim leadership.
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Hanan Attitalla, education coordinator with the advocacy group John Humphrey for Peace and Human Rights, facilitated the project and said anti-Black racism “is rampant in most spaces in our city.”
“It’s validating to know that these concerns are shared across our sisterhoods, your brotherhoods, that we all share these experiences … it’s not me being overly sensitive,” Attitalla said.
“But it’s not something that’s just in Muslim spaces, it’s everywhere.”
Acknowledging organizations working to address racism against Black Muslims, the report recommendations include encouraging open discussion about racism, ensuring adequate translation at Friday prayer for non-Arabic speaking Muslims, and understanding how colonialism impacts the existing spaces.
“I think [the report] does highlight both the real and perceived layers of bias and discrimination toward the Black Muslim community,” Irfan Chaudhry, director of the office of human rights, diversity, and equity at MacEwan University, said.
Living and working in Edmonton, Chaudhry said he has seen Black Muslims excluded from places of worship. Yet, he has also seen the Muslim community becoming more receptive to change.
“Some of these mosques have been established through previous generational influence where they’re limited to be as welcoming or inviting as they could be,” Chaudhry said about how immigration patterns were a factor but have evolved over time.
“Black Muslim mosques have been opening in and around Edmonton, but also … trying to carve their own space,” Chaudhry said.
“Versus trying to be actively included into some of the existing dominant spaces that are there.”
Edmonton is the second most populated city in the province of Alberta. The Muslim population in Edmonton is diverse, with many coming from East African and non-Arabic speaking countries.
Christianity is the largest single religion in Edmonton. 55.8% of people are Christian. Catholics (25.9%) make up the largest single grouping.
Other major religious groups are: Muslim (5.5%), Sikh (2.5%), Buddhist (2.1%), Hindu (1.9%), Jewish (0.4%), and Aboriginal Spirituality (0.2%).