An increase in hate-induced violence against Muslims and Jews during the past year in the province of Manitoba and its capitol Winnipeg have brought the two faiths together to confront it.
In one of the many incidents, a young hijab-wearing woman driving a car is persistently stalked through traffic by a man making shooting gestures at her. In another, a girl's hair is set on fire at school by a boy making a slur against Jews.
Now Jews and Muslims in the Canadian province of Manitoba are getting together to stand up to the hate.
A number of organizations are getting together to hold a series of workshops on 25 March. Among these organizations are the the Islamic Social Services Association, the Canadian Muslim Leadership Institute and AdaMah'nitoba, the Manitoba Judaism and Ecology project.
The objective of the workshops is: "to build bridges of solidarity and understanding based on accurate information, between Manitoban Jews and Muslims to combat Anti-Semitism and Islamophobia proactively through collaboration and cooperation."
Local organizers say the people promoting hate in Canada -- especially in social and online media -- need to be challenged.
"Our focus is the next generation," said Shahina Siddiqui, of the Islamic Social Services Association.
"Our cultural, religious and democratic diversity feels under attack right now," said AdaMah'nitoba co-ordinator Alon Weinberg. Some "regressive" policies in Canada worry the man whose family was hit by the Holocaust.
The ecology project is trying to develop "a more unified sense of place," Weinberg said.
In the past, world politics have kept Manitoba Muslims and Jews from forming a united front to confront bigotry and racism, said Siddiqui.
"Whatever happens overseas should not impact us as Canadians and how we relate to each other," said the social worker.
"We wanted people in both communities to be talking and establishing solidarity.
Invited guests include a high-profile imam on the front lines of Islamaphobia in the United States, and a Winnipeg-born rabbi and author at Hebrew College in Boston. Rabbi Or Rose is the founding Director for the Center for Global Judaism at Hebrew College. Imam Abdullah Antepli is the Muslim Chaplain for Duke University and Adjunct Faculty of Islamic Studies.
"Bringing in the rabbi and the imam is important. We wanted people to see that religion, that faith is not the issue. If anything is going to bring us together, it's faith," said Siddiqui.
Rabbi Or Rose grew up in Winnipeg and occasionally experienced anti-Semitism.
"Teammates and competitors on sports teams made anti-Semitic comments from time to time, and random individuals would curse or say something derogatory on public buses or on the streets when they saw my kippah (Jewish head covering)," said Rose.
"But I also met many non-Jewish people -- teachers, coaches and peers -- who were respectful and hospitable, and who encouraged me to develop my religious identity."
Rose said whenever he had a chance to talk to people who were "angered or confused" by his Jewish identity, their attitudes usually changed.
"To my mind, the most important thing we can do is to forge relationships with people across religious and cultural lines... to overcome the ignorance, suspicion and bigotry that exist in our communities and beyond."
Imam Abdullah Antepli, who gave the opening prayer at the U.S. House of Representatives in Washington, says that growing up in a Muslim country, he was exposed to anti-Semitism as a youth.
After moving to the U.S., he toured Nazi concentration camps with other imams. He learned that the orchestrated evil didn't just happen secretly -- a good chunk of society was on board and allowed it.
Carol Sanders, "Jews, Muslims take on hatred" Winnipeg Free Press> March 19, 2012
"Muslims and Jews Standing Together" Winnipeg is Better March 11, 2012
Reproduced with permission from Islam Today