The Calgary Police Service organized a basketball game for Muslim ladies and young girls at the Akram Jomaa Islamic Centre.
The event provided the local youth a chance to meet other youth in their neighbourhood and get to know the police.
“I think the goal is to make sure that there is a community among us and the police, to show that there can be a good relationship there,” Ganivat Sadique said. “And I think today is a success and a testament that there can be a really good fostered relationship between the two communities.”
Sadiq was at the evening event and enjoyed conversing with the police officers who came to play basketball with the event attendees.
She talked about why she felt this was something important for the community. “I think a lot of us don’t trust the police, so it’s really nice.”
According to Statistics Canada, the number of police-reported hate crimes targeting Muslims in 2021 climbed 71 per cent over the previous year.
Recent standing committee meetings held during September, had a Senate committee on Human Rights address the increase of hate crimes and targeted attacks against Muslims in recent years, they found key themes and issues that arose from the hearings.
The under-reporting of hate-motivated threats and violence and the relationship between Muslim communities and the police were just some of the issues that came up.
Const. Ahmed Shahein was at the basketball session to give a speech and show support.
“We’re here for the community, with the community to show we’re not a foreign service,” said Shahein. “We want kids, youth, and adults to feel comfortable to talk to us.”
He brought up the issue of lack of awareness and representation of diverse peoples in the police ranks.
“There was actually a young boy here, and I see him and he saw me and said, ‘ I didn’t know there was people like you in the police ‘ so that’s, I think the challenge, its just there’s a lack of awareness.”
Shahein said the sessions will continue with different sports in hopes of having people connect, interact and ask questions.