As part of my campaign to become leader of one of Canada’s largest political parties, I held an event in the city where my political career began.
I walked into a room filled with supporters and old friends. As soon as I was introduced, a person confronted me with angry, hateful, and islamophobic comments. I had to act fast and set the tone for the room.
Despite this person’s anger and hate, I told them that we loved them, respected them, and would protect their rights. I chose not to answer the questions asked because I didn’t accept the premise.
Many people have commented that I could have just said I’m not Muslim. In fact, many have clarified that I’m actually Sikh. While I’m proud of who I am, I purposely didn’t go down that road because it suggests their hate would be ok if I was Muslim. We all know it’s not. I didn’t answer the question because my response to Islamophobia has never been “I’m not Muslim.” It has always been and will be that “hate is wrong”. Once allowed to grow, hate doesn’t pick and choose, it spreads like fire. Once we say it’s ok to hate someone based on their religion, we’re also opening the door to hate based on race, gender, sexuality, and more.
It’s important that we stand united against all forms of hate.
It takes love to understand that we’re all in this together. It takes courage to come together, demand better and dream bigger, so that we can build a world where no one is left behind.
With love and courage,
Candidate for Leader of Canada’s NDP