By Mo Cranker on February 13, 2017.
A group of Hatters from all walks of life gathered Sunday afternoon in Riverside Veterans’ Memorial Park to show their support for the local Muslim community, as well for diversity in the world.
The gathering was arranged by STAND Medicine Hat, which was started as a way to bring Hatters together in a peaceful way, to stand together and show support for each other, said one of STAND’s organizers, Shelley Ewing.
“We saw the racial targeting that was going on in the United States against Muslim people, and we know it went on before this, but it is very in the mainstream news right now,” she said. “It really angers me to see this — the people who the media and society are targeting are not the people we should be afraid of, so we decided to get people together to get to know each other.”
The day of multiple speeches ran from 1-3 p.m. with hundreds showing up, many of which had colourful signs, to lend their support to the Muslim community.
Ewing says she believes people have far more in common with each other than we generally believe, and getting them all in one place is the best chance to show off the similarities.
“When Muslim and Christian, and anyone else of any other religion speak to each other, they’ll often find they have a lot in common and that the differences they have are not that extreme,” she said.
Gail Thompson helped organize the event and says she has realized how important it is to be accepting of other cultures.
“My background is very white Anglo-Saxon, and even through university it was like that,” she said. “As I grew up I realized I could either embrace new cultures or I could fear what I don’t understand — I’ve chosen to try and learn about other cultures and embrace them.”
Hatter Munir Baruwa says he thinks it is important for communities of every size to accept the people living in them.
“I think Islamophobia is becoming a global concern — not just in big places, but little places too,” he said. “We saw what happened in Quebec and it is really great how Canadians have stood together — but it can happen anywhere, even here in Medicine Hat, so I think coming together to condemn hate speech or acts of any kind is important.”
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