Report: Windsor Youth Empower Themselves to Dispel Myths —

On June 20, participants in an after-school program provided by Windsor Women Working with Immigrant Women’s Youth Community Connections hosted an exhibition to showcase a campaign they developed to challenge Islamophobia.

Islamophobia is defined as the irrational fear of Islam and Muslims. The exhibition featured a display of news articles, photos and tweets about racist attacks that have taken place in Canada which clearly showed that this is a problem in Canada and not just the United States.

The students set out to directly expose Islamophobia and carry out social experiments to see what the opinion of other Canadians actually was. They presented people in the street with images showing Islamophobic signs and statements and asked them to comment on what thoughts they evoked in them, and what should be done about such things. People’s responses displayed at the event indicated that Canadians reject such racism and the targeting of any group based on their race, ethnic background or religion. Far from Islamophobia being commonplace, rejection of it was in fact the norm for those who were approached. The youth also carried out other social experiments to openly challenge myths about Islam and Muslims by encouraging direct interactions between Muslim and non-Muslim Canadians.

One participant spoke about what he expected before doing the experiments and how he felt after. He said he did not start out with any preconceived notion of what to expect. But as more and more people responded positively, he gained confidence and ended up feeling empowered with the actions he and the other youth took.