Amplifying Canadian Muslim voices

Amplifying Canadian Muslim voices

Muslim Sources, an online database, was recently launched to make it easier for journalists and media outlets to find credible Muslim experts and reflect Canada’s increasing diversity in their content.

“I was disturbed by the misrepresentation and negative stereotypes of Muslims that I would see in the media and I wanted to help change that,” said founder Naureen Aqueel. “I believed we needed a platform where our voices could be amplified and made easily available to the mainstream media.”

According to Aqueel, Muslim Sources is an independent project that was launched with support of community members and organizations as well as supporters through a crowdfunding campaign with the goal of helping the community reclaim its narrative by amplifying Muslim voices and stem misrepresentation.

“When Muslims are missing from stories that affect the community and sometimes stories that are about the community, we only get a partial or inaccurate picture of reality often leading to misrepresentation and content that propagates hate and Islamophobia,” she said.

“It is easy to overlook this, but an incomplete story is as dangerous as a fake story. To truly be fair and accurate, journalists must speak to and includ diverse voices from within the community they are covering.”

“Media professionals and editors often speak about how it is a challenge encouraging journalists to expand their go-to source lists and how it is easy for reporters to often fall back on the same old voices due to lack of time and connections.”

Journalists continue to seek out Muslims to, primarily, respond to Islamophobic incidents and hate crimes but Aqueel hopes that the database will provide experts who can address a range of issues.

“The most common issues are often Islamophobia, hate crimes, racism, diversity and inclusion, human rights, immigrants and settlement, recently Quebec's Bill-21 etc but I also hope that with this database, we will be able to collect Muslim experts on a diversity of issues like Muslims who are experts on health care, COVID-19 vaccines, climate change, sports, start-ups, mental health etc and not just issues related to Islamophobia and hate crimes,” she said.

“We do a weekly social media feature where we highlight Muslims and Muslim voices in the news. This is helpful in understanding what issues the media is reaching out to Muslims for as well as highlighting those voices and quotes.”

A future goal for Aqueel is to help Muslim communities acquire the skills to communicate their stories more effectively.

“We also hope to work with the Muslim community to encourage them and equip them with the tools and skills necessary to tell their own stories and to communicate their knowledge and opinions in an effective way.”