CAIRO - Living in a cultural melting pot, Winnipeg's Muslim community are opening the doors of their mosque on Sunday, May 26, to welcome their neighbors from different cultures and faiths to dispel myths about Islam.
"We really want to open the Muslim community up to the public," Louay Alghoul, a lawyer and member of the Manitoba Islamic Association executive, told Winnipeg Free Press.
"They can ask 'Who are you really? What do you do when you're not at the mosque? What country do you come from?' "
Living in Winnipeg since he was 17, Alghoul has encountered dozens of cultures and close to 50 languages spoken.
With increased immigration, the Muslim population in Manitoba has more than doubled to nearly 12,000 in the last decade.
Trying to break barriers between these cultures, the Manitoba Islamic Association is inviting the public to its first Islamic Culture Day on Sunday.
The event will include sharing dishes and modeling costumes from diverse cultures, including different styles of women's head scarves from different parts of the world.
Connecting with non-Muslim neighbors is at the heart of the event, said Alghoul.
It will also aim at showing the difference between Islamic faith and culture prevailing in Muslim countries.
For example, women in Saudi Arabia are not allowed to drive because of their culture, not because they're Muslim, said Alghoul
"It's our job to explain the difference," he said.
"We can't just say 'Oh well, people don't understand.'"
Along with mixing cultures, the event aims at extending bridges between churches, synagogues, temples and dignitaries.
"I think it would be great for the whole community," university student Lubna Usmani said.
Usmani and her husband are making gulab jamun -- a kind of Pakistani Timbit soaked in syrup -- for the event.
Sunday's event will also showcase Muslim contributions to civilization such as advances in math and science, as well as some culinary creations.
Muslims make around 1.9 percent of Canada's 32.8 million population, and Islam is the number one non-Christian faith in the country.
A survey has showed the overwhelming majority of Muslims are proud to be Canadian.
Interfaith events usually help to correct misconceptions about Muslims which resulted in a sharp increase in anti-Muslim views among Canadians.
Last March 2012, a new survey by the Association for Canadian Studies and the Canadian Race Relations Foundation found that more than half of Canadians distrust Muslims, the lowest level of trustworthiness of religious groups in the country.
Another recent survey by the Canadian Studies (ACS) found that the Muslim minority in Canada is still facing negative perceptions a decade after the 9/11.
Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net