TORONTO - Connecting with the broader community through arts, humor and entertainment, Canada's annual Muslim festival has closed on a high note this weekend.
This festival is a great opportunity for Ontarians of all backgrounds to experience Muslim culture in all its diversity and vibrancy, Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty said in a support message.
It is also an ideal occasion for the Muslim community to celebrate their identity and achievements, and to strengthen the bonds that keep them together.
Muslimfest, now in its 9th year, featured over 50 local and international artists, concerts, comedy shows, film screenings, and art exhibits.
A multicultural bazaar and an outdoor children's carnival were also held during the festival, held in Mississauga, Ontario.
Over 25,000 participants attended the two-day event which drew praise from politicians across the region including McGuinty and the City of Mississauga's Mayor, Hazel McCallion.
Some highlights of the festival included performances by local Canadian favorite, Dawud Wharnsby, and vocal artist, Junaid Jamshed, from Pakistan.
South African performer, Zain Bhikha, unfortunately was unable to attend, but audiences were treated with an encore performance by Dawud Wharnsby in his place.
There were also two surprise performances by Sound of Reason and Allah Made Me Funny.
Launched in 2004, Muslimfest is a joint initiative of DawaNet, Young Muslims Canada, and Sound Vision.
It aims to connect with the broader community through the language of art, humor, and meaningful entertainment.
The success of Muslimfest this year sets the stage for next year when the popular event will be celebrating its 10-year anniversary.
New artists from within the Muslim community in North America also performed during this year's festival.
Ontario's Muslim community is diverse and dynamic, McGuinty said.
You share a faith and a rich culture, but you come from all parts of the world, speak many languages and carry many histories.
Two noteworthy displays included Stories from the Qur'an by Mezba Mahtab, who uses lego pieces to build model displays showcasing scenes from the Qur'an.
Another entitled, A Child's View From Gaza, exhibits 26 full-color drawings compiled by activist Susan Johnson from her travels in the region following a deadly Israeli offensive on the Palestinian enclave in 2008.
Films screened this year included Wham! Bam! Islam!, which documents the story of the first Muslim inspired comic book series.
There was also Qur'an by Heart, whichfollows the path of three children as they make their way to world's oldest Qur'an recitation contest in Cairo.
A Son's Sacrifice follows the journey of an American-Muslim who struggles to take over his father's slaughterhouse.
All the films screened drew full houses and rave reviews highlighting the appetite from Muslims for well-produced films that reflect their lived experiences.
Muslims make around 1.9 percent of Canada's 32.8 million population, and Islam is the number one non-Christian faith in the North American country.A recent survey has showed the overwhelming majority of Muslims are proud to be Canadian.