October 27, 2015 - 1:00 PM
'IF WE DON'T SPEAK ABOUT THESE ISSUES... WE START DEVELOPING ALL THESE MISCONCEPTIONS.'
KELOWNA - A UBC Okanagan graduate is organizing a forum on campus to address some of the misconceptions about his religion that are clearly still a problem in Kelowna.
Adnan Akiel Ahmad Bhat holds a masters in electrical engineering from the Okanagan campus. He has helped organize several information seminars trying to bridge the gap between Muslims and non-Muslims, and it was some ignorant comments at one in September that spurred his latest event.
“We set up a booth downtown and called it Meet a Muslim,” he says. “It was a very good experience and we got mostly positive reviews… but I was asked why do I fund Islamic extremists and I was also asked why do I beat up my wife. I’m single.”
Bhat worked with the UBCO Muslim Student Association to organize a forum next week titled 'Misconceptions about Islam' that he hopes will help answer some of those kinds of questions.
“We did an event called 'What is Islam and who are Muslims' and it was a success,” he says. “A lot of people came out and there were a lot of questions we couldn’t address due to time limitations so this would be the next step forward.”
The format will include a 45-minute introduction by the city of Calgary’s first Muslim chaplain Navaid Aziz, followed by a 45-minute question and answer period.
“Most of the questions are concerning IS, terrorism, hijab, niqab, there are other questions as to what we believe in and why do we believe it,” he says. “We usually get questions like do you think non-Muslims will go to hell and other theological questions.”
Bhat says despite the ignorance still held by some, he does not see Kelowna as a prejudiced city.
"A lot of times speaking about religion is kind of taboo. If we don’t speak about these issues and we just keep to ourselves we start developing all these misconceptions from limited information. By opening up and asking questions in a positive environment will definitely help achieve our goal," he says. "I’ve got a lot more positive comments from the community. There have only been a few negative comments and I don’t even look at those. One or two doesn’t matter."
The event will be held at the UBC Okanagan campus on Monday, Nov. 2, starting at 7 p.m. in the ASC 140 room. For more information, visit the UBCO Muslim Student Association Facebook page.
To help promote the event, the association has produced a promotional video asking students of UBCO what they think when they hear the words Islam and Muslim.
To contact the reporter for this story, email Adam Proskiw at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 250-718-0428. To contact the editor, email email@example.com or call 250-718-2724.
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