National ‘bring a friend to the mosque’ event aims to foster dialogue

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MONTREAL — A Muslim group is organizing mosque visits across Canada on Saturday and Sunday, in hopes of building bridges with other communities after an uptick in Islamophobic and antisemitic incidents nationwide.

Jari Qudrat, faith outreach director with the Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association, said more than 20 mosques were expected to host tours for the two-day “bring a friend to the mosque” event. Refreshments, exhibitions about Islam and conversations with imams were also in the program.

Qudrat said the goal of the event is to foster dialogue between participants of all backgrounds and educate non-Muslim Canadians about Islam. He believes creating opportunities for better mutual understanding will help curb the Islamophobia and antisemitism that emerged following the outbreak of war in Gaza.

“The only way to combat these hate crimes, whether it’s antisemitism, Islamophobia or any form of faith or ethnicity-based targeting, is to build bridges of understanding,” Qudrat said in an interview Saturday. “We will quickly learn that the second we decide to lend an ear and actually listen to what the other party has to say, we have so much more in common than we have different.”

Imam Farhan Iqbal said he hopes the open-door mosque event will be an opportunity to address misunderstandings that can stem from emotional responses to global conflicts. He’s expecting several non-Muslims to turn out for mosque visits in Ottawa, where he is based.

“What is happening in our world today is that there are a lot of conflicts and there’s a lot of polarization,” Iqbal said in a phone interview Saturday. “So the goal should be to bring people of different faiths together, to bring people of different faith communities together to learn more about each other, explore our similarities.”

The Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association is using an online sign-up sheet to match prospective event participants with local mosques — a process that doubles as a security measure, Qudrat said.

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