A Muslim students’ group is banding together to fight the extremist influence they say ISIS can have on Canadian youth.
The Stop the CrISIS campaign, created by the national group Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association (AMYA), starts Thursday with its first event at York University that will feature presentations and speakers who will talk about the peaceful teachings of the Qu’ran and prophet Muhammed. Almost 2,000 people registered to attend the event.
Farhan Iqbal is an imam at the Baitul Islam Mosque in Maple, Ont. and CrISIS spokesperson, says the growing number of young adults becoming radicalized has been cause for concern across the country. Several Canadians, many of whom were born or raised in Canada “have gone abroad to wage a bloody ‘jihad’ with terrorist groups in foreign lands,” he said.
“We are trying to provide the counter-narrative to the ideology of these people,” says Iqbal. “We’re going to discuss what radicalization is, what it means to be radicalized, and how one gets radicalized.”
The campaign events will also host speakers who are recent converts to Islam. Iqbal says the group wants people to know that conversion to Islam is not conversion to a radical faith.
He says that while the campaign is targeted towards all Canadians, these events will take place on university and college campuses because students are often the most susceptible to radicalization.
Blawal Aleem, president of Ahmadiyya Muslim Student Association (AMSA) at Ryerson, says Islamophobia exists in Canada. Although it’s not as prevalent as it is in some other countries, fear and misunderstanding of Islam is increasing due to the recent events in Ottawa and Quebec, he said.
The student group has been placing flyers all over campus to bring attention to their message and upcoming event. It has also been active on social media to stay in touch with the Ryerson community and its wider national campaign.
The campaign wants to target and combat Islamophobia nationwide and on campus, he said. It also wants to make sure if there are any individuals looking into Islam that they are properly informed about what it means to be a Muslim.
“Youth are naturally vulnerable to new things, so it’s necessary to educate them,” Aleem says. “We want to make sure we get to these people before ISIS does.”
Ryerson will host a Stop the CrISIS event on campus on Nov. 28 at 6:30 p.m. in the George Vari Engineering and Computing Centre. Aleem says that spaces are quickly filling up and they are considering moving the event to a bigger space.