In the face of increasing Islamophobia, a group of Muslims in Toronto is vowing to reclaim the mosque as a sacred and safe space for women.
The Women’s Mosque of Canada marked its first prayer meeting in Toronto Friday, in an effort to build an inclusive space for Muslim women to practice their faith, and heal from Islamophobic attacks that organizers say plague the community daily.
“There are women, including myself, that have experienced gender islamophobia and been attacked,” Farheen Khan, co-founder of the Women’s Mosque of Canada, told CTV News by phone shortly before the organization’s first prayer began at Trinity-St. Paul’s United Church.
By offering bi-weekly Friday prayers—for women, by women —Khan says organizers hope to create a community that not only supports its members’ faith, but breaks down social barriers that fuel anti-Muslim sentimentsas well.
The efforts come after several prominent attacks on mosques, including the deadly attack in New Zealand last month, and the Quebec City mosque attack in 2017.
“It feels like there has been an attack on the sanctity of the mosque,” Khan said of the violence.
The most recent data released by Statistics Canada shows that although hate crimes had increased by 47 per cent in 2017, incidents targeting Muslims had increased by 151 per cent.
The biggest increases were seen in Ontario and Quebec where police-reported hate crimes involving Muslims increased by 207 per cent and 185 per cent, respectively.