It was an honour to join the Edmonton chapter of “Justice for All Canada” fundraiser on Sunday, December 4, 2022. Thank you Tazeen Hasan, for the warm invitation you extended to me and my husband Asher.
I, as a Christian, and Asher as Jewish, came in the spirit of solidarity with the goals of Justice For All Canada. We came in the spirit of joining the Muslim Ummah – to expand this community of believers who care deeply about human rights for all. We came in the spirit of humility to God/Allah who we both look to for wisdom to respond to violence in ways that will bring the powerful to their knees without adding to the violence: so that violence can cease and peace with justice for all can reign.
The stories that were shared connected me to the present realities of deep, ongoing, long-standing and quickly evolving injustices to minority groups that JFA focuses on. The poetry connected us to the Olive Tree, the symbol of rootedness to land, and fruitfulness and resilience – the memory of peace, and the longing for peace.
The story of the Palestinian youth who was murdered for standing up to a settler – for not submitting to the oppressor – captured the anger and the sorrow of our brothers and sisters living under occupation for 70 years. I have met Christian and Muslim Palestinians who clearly state: we have no hatred of Jews; it is the extremist settlers, the military, and a government that allows them to act with impunity that we oppose.
The Kashmir reality of their extreme militarized society was another reminder of a community held hostage by violence.
And the impassioned plea by Mehliya to help us understand the dire situation of the Uighurs in East Turkistan. When our ability to get updates and stories on the genocidal agenda of the Chinese government is compromised, our work to get the truth out becomes even more urgent.
A theme I heard from several of the speakers was the danger of our complacency. The encouragement to put our faith into action reminded me of a book I have been reading by Christian theologian Safwat Marzouk. He suggests that our faith community includes those of us who are settled, and those of us who are refugees, migrants – i.e. unsettled. For us to remain well-connected to our global faith community, we, the settled need to challenge ourselves to bring into our consciousness and prayers – our dua – the struggles and injustices of those whose life experiences are unsettled. I heard the speakers urging us to unsettle ourselves in order to act!
I am so grateful to the organizers of this event for helping me connect with these stories. Connecting is only the first step. The follow-up is action. “Justice for All” gave us concrete ways to put our deep concern for human rights into action. One is to help fund an organization that speaks out on our behalf for just policies from our Canadian government regarding treatment of minorities in countries with whom Canada has relations. Another is to find ways locally to educate our communities and bring people on board to increase our voice and influence. Let us not stop with this urgent work with the fundraiser event. Let us work together – across communities – for the good of us all!
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