Activate Youth (AY) delivered the inaugural Dismantling Islamophobia and Racism (DIR) workshop, in collaboration with Wyndham Community and Education Centre (WCEC) and Wyndham City Council (WCC) on Saturday 20 August 2022.

The sold-out event had over 80 participants who learned how to hold racists and Islamophobes accountable in a range of common scenarios. 

AY President and Co-Founder Dr Aaqil Rifai addressed the audience by highlighting AY’s objectives to improve mental wellbeing and advance education through accurate information.

He stressed that at the core, the organisation aims to build confidence in the Australian Muslim Multicultural Identity, and this workshop is in response to the social climate that our youth have informed us they are facing. 

Vice President of AY, Zakia Haque, introduced the DIR Project  and explained that the program offered victims a reason to invest time and energy to report incidents and seek help from support services.

AY intends to work with local governments, and community organisations to educate and empower the community by delivering victim-centred solutions, rather than burdening victims with educating the oppressor. 

Dr Sara Cheikh Husain was the keynote speaker for the event. 

Having researched perceptions of and responses to Islamophobia, she delivered an insightful presentation about defining and responding to different forms of Islamophobia. She highlighted the importance of reporting incidents to make a positive impact on government policy.  

Discussion groups were organised covering select, nuanced Islamophobic encounters in places such as the office, doctor’s clinic, shopping centre and the school yard. Facilitators, trained in their respective scenario settings, immersed the audience in these scenarios before prompting discussions about holding the perpetrator accountable.

A couple of teams provided a live performance on how such a scenario could be managed. 

Cr Jennie Barrera, WCC’s Welcoming City portfolio holder, spoke about Council’s initiatives on embracing diversity in Wyndham.

The event was wrapped up with a panel discussion featuring Jazeer Nijamudeen, President of Muslim Legal Network, Dr Shiraz Mahkri, President of Muslim Health Practioners Australia and Dr Sara Cheikh Husain.

Jazeer Nijamudeen explained why you need to be able to identify Islamophobia and how the law can help you hold someone accountable. He also explained that it can be a complicated process so victims should always immediately contact the Islamophobia Support Service or Islamophobia Register Australia to help them through that process of seeking justice or even simply mental health support.

As part of the DIR Project, AY also coordinated a joint Khutba (drafted by Waseem Razvi) by Wyndham City Mosques including Virgin Mary Mosque, Melbourne Grand Mosque and United Muslim Residents Association (Point Cook). 

Activate Youth is excited to continue empowering, leading, and inspiring the next generation of Australian Multicultural Muslims by providing safe, empowering spaces for them to overcome Islamophobia and Racism.

Similar workshops will be conducted with other local Councils.

Support the DIR Project financially or connect  to the key decision makers in your local Council by emailing: vicepresident@ay.org.au