It was an evening of firsts as the Ottawa Main Mosque welcomed US Ambassador David Jacobson on his first official visit on April 8.
Almost 100 people attended the event titled “Strengthening Bridges & Working Together for a Better Future”. Security was discreet and the question period was uncensored which was unusual for a high-profile guest like the ambassador. But a unique set of circumstances had created the space for this gathering. As Ambassador Jacobson explained at the beginning of his speech:
In the dark days that followed September 11, 2001, as the precarious relationship between Islam and the West rapidly deteriorated, a diverse group of Muslim women from the Ottawa area gathered to confront the new reality of greater suspicion, mistrust, and scrutiny.
Confronted by openly hostile chatter in the media and on the street, this disparate collection of women united both by their faith and a fierce pride in their shared identity as Canadians, contemplated their options and deliberately declined to accept defeat by shuffling off, heads bowed, into the shadowy realm of the lost.
The first Voice of Muslim Youth provincial election engagement session took place on Sept. 10 at Ben Franklin Place. I decided to organize this session after attending the Voice of Muslim Youth's Town Hall Meeting in July, when concerns around the lack of Muslim political engagement were raised. I told Kauthar Mohamed, the co-founder of VOMY, that I had an idea of how to get Muslim youth interested in politics by showing them how the issues that concerned them most were linked to Canadian politics.
As the Ontario provincial election is taking place on Oct. 6, I felt there was a great opportunity to encourage Muslim youth to vote in the upcoming election by giving them the chance to meet and discuss their concerns with local provincial candidates. Thanks to the sponsorship of the South Nepean Muslim Community and the Ottawa Muslim Women's Organization, we were able to cover all the costs related to organizing this important event.