Muslim groups working hard to get out the vote in their community

By: Noor Javed News Reporter
Toronto Star | September 18, 2015

Stephen Harper’s absence on the website for the Canadian-Muslim Vote is hard to miss.

In August, the grassroots organization working to increase voter turnout in the Muslim community sent invitations to all four federal party leaders asking them to send a video message to be posted on the website encouraging the community to engage in the political process.

“We are still awaiting a response from the Conservative Party of Canada,” says the message on the website for the non-profit and non-partisan organization, where Harper’s video would have appeared, alongside those of the other three main party leaders.

In the meantime, the CMV has been working frantically with a handful of non-profit groups in the Muslim community over the past six months to get their own message across to the masses: this could be the most important election the community has ever faced.

. . .

“There has been a lot of negative political rhetoric around Islam and Muslims,” said Amira El-Ghawaby, a spokeswoman for the National Council of Canadian Muslims, which is co-sponsoring a federal debate called “Young, Canadian and Muslim: Making our ballots count” taking place Friday evening at the Aga Khan Museum. The 500-seat event sold out in two days, and was advertised only on Facebook. The event will be live streamed by and viewing parties for the debate are expected to be held across the country.

“This political rhetoric will get the attention of Muslims, because it impacts them. It has an impact how they are perceived by their colleagues and peers, and it has an impact on their sense of belonging,” El-Ghawaby, adding that discussion around the niqab, Bill C-51, ISIS, and the plight of Syrian refugees are just some of the concerns of Muslim voters.

“Most are worried about the same things as others: employment, poverty, health care and the environment,” she said. The NCCM is also preparing to publish and distribute an election primer laying out the party positions at mosques and community centres across the country.

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