Here in Canada, American politicians make it into our news all the time (and not just Donald Trump). But it’s not everyday that one of our politicians (minus Trudeau, of course) makes international headlines for being, well, spectacular. NDP MPP and party leader candidate Jagmeet Singh went viral this weekend for how he handled a racist outburst at one of his campaign events.
Singh was speaking at his ‘JagMeet and Greet’ on Thursday when a woman aggressively approached him, accusing him of being in support of Sharia law. Instead of fighting hate with hate, Singh responded by letting the woman know that, despite her aggression, he respects her.
‘It’s okay,’ Singh said to the crowd, ‘We don’t want to be intimidated by hate. We don’t want hatred to ruin a positive event. So let’s show people how we would treat someone with love.’ He then addressed the woman directly.
‘We welcome you,’ he told her, ‘We welcome you. We love you. We support you and we love you. We all here, everyone in this room loves you. We all support you. We believe in your rights. But this isn’t the best way to do it, but it’s okay. We’re going to talk some more.’ He then started a chant of ‘love and courage.’ The woman eventually stopped her protest and left.
This Sikh politician responded with kindness as a woman verbally harassed him pic.twitter.com/ysaZ9j7VQL
— NowThis (@nowthisnews) September 8, 2017
While Singh’s handling of the situation is admirable, this incident is a reminder that racism is still alive and well in our beloved Canada as much as the United States. This woman assumed that because Singh wears a turban that he is Muslim, and thus a follower of Sharia law which is based in Islam. Many Westerners have an aversion to Sharia law in general because some of its harsher iterations call for violent punishments like stoning adulterers and chopping off thieves’ hands. However, many Muslims say there are multiple ways to interpret the teachings of Islam. In general, they say it’s about ‘the principle of treating other people justly.’ There are many Muslims who do not practice the more extreme interpretations of Sharia law.
Additionally, Jagmeet Singh isn’t even Muslim at all. He’s a practicing Sikh.
So we all need to be on the lookout for intolerance, bigotry, hate and just plain ignorance. Situations like this happen all the time and approaching it the way MPP Singh did–with love and courage–is exactly how we should be addressing it as a country and as individuals.