Myanmar: Who are the Rohingya?
Interfatih forum on racism and extremism at Al Jamia Masjid Vancouver On Sept10th an interfaith forum on racism and extremism was hosted by the Al Jamia Masjid Vancouver. This long planned program program was rededicated as a dialogue and call to action to benefit the Rohingya people facing persecution, starvation and genocide in Myanmar. The event was attended by a diverse assembly of men, women, children, social activists of all faiths and backgrounds who have come together to stand up to racism and stand up for peace. The program was emceed and moderated by Haroon Khan and included first person accounts from Rohingya natives now living in Canada including Sister Yasmin Ullah and Brother Nasir Khan who relayed searing and heartbreaking stories of the conflict and how it continues to affect them and those in danger back home. Common sentiments among speakers and attendees included a call to revoke the honourary Canadian citizenship and Nobel laureate status of Myanmar leader Aung Saan Suu Kyi, international sanctions against the regime and military of Myanmar, UN peace keeping forces on the ground and assistance to NGO’s delivering emergency aid and support for Rohingya refugees fleeing the region. Why the interfaith and social justice advocacy is so important on this and other matters that affect humanity. Speakers included: Ihsan Malik: Chairman, Islamic Trust, Pakistan Canada Association who greeted the assembled audience on behalf of the PCA and Masjid and gave a statement condemning the atrocities factor Ng the Rohingya people in Myanmar. Sister Fatima Benhatta: BC Chair, Islamic Relief, Canada, spoke of the situation unfolding in Myanmar, the mistreatment of the Rohingya and ongoing relief efforts by Islamic Relief, an esteemed relief agency currently in the conflict zone delivering needed emergency aid on the ground. Sikandar Khan: Past President, BC Muslim Association gave greetings on behalf of BCMA, spoke of the historical importance of Al Jamia Masjid Vancouver, and founder Riasat Ali Khan’s impact and dedication to the Islamic and multicultural communities and gave his views on the situation in Myanmar. Annie Ohana - Stand up to racism metro vancouver co-chair and a BC teacher gave an address and delivered a systematic set of points relaying as to why the situation in Myanmar has escalated from Identification, to Ostracism, Confiscation, Concentration, and Annihilation of the Rohingya people. Rabbi David Mivasir spoke movingly by not speaking at all at first by using tonal hums and then spoke relating the experience of the holocaust of the jews and the parallels occurring today and echoed Annie Ohana’s call on why the phrase Never Again applies to all and most especially to the Rohingya who are facing a genocide here and now. Imtiaz Popat: co-op Radio, Anti-Bigotry Coalition - long standing supporter of human rights gave voice to an appeal for UN Peace Keepers to intervene and take charge of the security situation in Myanmar. Jesse Kaur: gave a moving reading of her work silence violence Tarek Ramadan: Muslim Association of Canada chairman and long standing community activist gave an impassioned speech on the situation in Myanmar and gave an honest assessment of the failures by the international community to bring peace there and other regions affected by war and sectarian violence. Furquan Gehlan: Canada Peace Initiative BC Chair gave a talk and call to action about the importance for Canada to establish a Ministry of Peace within the Canadian Government. Mufti Aasim Rashid of Al Ihsan Educational Foundation and Islam Unravelled lead us in prayer and gave an insightful take on the situation in Myanmar, Extremism and racism and presented an important talk on Islam Unravelled an educational initiative that now more than ever is needed to counter the misinformation and Islamaphobia that exists today and that has impacted the situation in Myanmar and has contributed to the rise of extremism today. Musa Ismail: Past President, BC Muslim Association, Islam Unravelled co-chair delivered his remarks on the tragedy facing the Rohingya and why it is so important for all faith based groups to come together for humanity. Haroon Khan gave his closing remarks and relayed a message from Brother Kwan of the Buddhist community, too heartsick to attend the forum but who passed on the message that the Buddhists committing atrocities in Myanmar do not represent Budhists or the teachings of the Buddha. Haroon Khan concluded that Extremism and Racism expressed by those claiming to represent, Muslims, Jews, Christians, Sikhs, Hindus, Buddhists, agnostics and otherwise must be seen as fanatacism and murderous extremism under the guise of religion and not representative of the teachings and examples of our prophets and faiths. This is a reminder to heed the command of the allmighty to not hate and mistrust one another but for us to understand and know one another. The forum concluded with representatives of all communities attending and supporting the forum to come together to continue the work towards peace and to organize fundraising benefits for the Rohingya peoples and to direct our federal leadership to match funds dollar for dollar to deliver desperately needed aid. Haroon Khan, Yousef Barakat and Bilal Cheema were given directive to lobby in this regard and all affirmed to push for diplomatic pressure in keeping with our national identity as advocates for peace and peace keeping in the world. The people united will never be defeated. Stand up to Racism Stand up for Justice.