Islamophobia erodes sense of self

Muslim students battle with identity, and struggle with focus in school as a result

(From left to right) Perminder Chohan, Fatima Jaffer, Brenda Binns, Indira Prahst, Kamilla Singh and Minnijean Brown-Trickey

stand together after Jaffer is honoured with a recognition for her work. Photo by Missy Johnson

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Reported by Missy Johnson

The impact of Islamophobia on students’ sense of well-being can affect their ability to succeed in school, according to a Langara sociology instructor.

Here, and the world over

Last Thursday, Langara held its 15th-annual Stop Racism event on campus. In an impassioned speech, Fatima Jaffer, an anti-racism activist and PhD candidate at UBC, said the recent shootings at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, shows how the Muslim community is still targeted by racists.

“Homogenizing our approaches to racism, to activism, have failed Muslims on the basis of race and religion,” she said.

Battling with identity

Langara sociology student Vicky Malonda said victims of Islamophobia are forced to downplay their Muslim identity.

“They’re not as open as they can be. They have to portray a different self than their actual self,” Malonda said.

Indira Prahst, a Langara sociology instructor who specializes in race and ethnicity, said students who are affected by racism often remain silent.

“Racism has consequences in the lives of individuals and in shattering the self,” she said.

Hope for the future

In an effort to combat Islamophobia and other forms of racism in the city, Vancouver councillor Pete Fry said they are taking applications for a new racial and ethno-cultural equity advisory committee.

“This is a great opportunity to actually truly reflect some of the diversity of our city,” he said.

Malonda said combatting racism on campus requires everyone to be more open minded.

“If you do see something, if you see someone making negative comments, just help and try to stop it,” she said.

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