Members of the Muslim community gathered Saturday night at Westboro mosque to attend the first federal election debate of the 2019 campaign, CBC reported.
“We are a non-partisan organization. For us, this is an education session for the community,” said Ahmed Ibrahim, president of the Ottawa Muslim Association.
At the event, five Ottawa Centre candidates shared their views in front of more than 100 people.
Ibrahim said he hoped the debate would encourage Muslim voters to head to the polls.
“The issue we are seeing is people don’t know who to vote for. We are helping them to make their own decision,” Ibrahim said.
“We are Muslims, we are part of Canada and we will continue to be part of Canada.”
The 2019 Canadian federal election is scheduled to take place on October 21, 2019, to elect members of the House of Commons to the 43rd Canadian Parliament.
Meanwhile, the debate moderator Ginella Massa said the debate was a good way to show that Muslim-Canadians are engaging civically.
“A lot of times, issues that relate to Muslims are talked about by politicians. [But] we are often used as rhetoric in this campaign without being engaged in these conversations,” she pointed out.
Muslims are the fastest-growing religious community in Canada, according to the country’s statistical agency, Statistics Canada.
Historically, Canada’s Muslim population increased by 82 percent over the past decade – from about 579,000 in 2001 to more than 1 million in 2016.
Muslims represent 3.2 percent of Canada’s total population.
Approximately, 79 percent of Canadian Muslims voted in the 2015 federal election. Muslim voter turnout was as high as 88 percent in some ridings.
“There is concentration of Muslims in enough ridings in Ottawa that — depending on where they vote — they can actually swing ridings,” said local activist Fareed Khan, who was at Saturday’s debate.
“I think Canadian political parties need to pay greater attention to Muslims and to issues important to Muslims.”