During the course of the political campaign in the United States, many people have been considering the possibility that their leader might end up being Trump—the billionaire turned “politician”—and Clinton, also known as Crooked Hillary. People—mainly marginalized groups like Muslims—are now starting to feel as though their own homes are turning into dangerous places, where they don’t belong. They’re humoring the idea of moving to Canada, a place where the prime minister does Yoga and went to theatre school.
In the States, for example, the leaders are less enthused about the Muslim community compared to Justin Trudeau. They showcase their fear of Islam and their apprehension at the idea of more refugees coming in. But Trudeau is the polar opposite of that; not only does he celebrate the idea of a Muslim community but he welcomes the Syrian refugees with open arms.
Knowing that I live in a country where I can freely express myself and my religion is refreshing. Obviously, Islamophobic attacks still occur in Canada, but not to the extent of the States. Here, we truly celebrate our diversity instead of allowing it to tear us apart.
Javaid Akhtar, 55, has lived in Canada for over twenty years and feels extremely excited at the opportunity to see a Muslim-friendly leader directing the country. “Trudeau participates in events with Muslim communities and that is such a fun thing to see. He visits mosques and big events and he involves himself, like a real leader should do.”
Akhtar thoughtfully shifts his head and says proudly, “He’s doing a good job and he’s bringing all of the communities together. This is the best way we’re united in Canada, and this is how we bring peace and good understanding between other cultures.”
Many Canadians feel proud of their prime minister being elected, especially considering the fact that Stephen Harper—Canada’s previous prime minister—was spiraling downwards into a pit of xenophobic and discriminating ideologies. Harper, who was Conservative, is a stark contrast to Trudeau who is Liberal—and not only is his party Liberal, but the man himself seems to free himself from political gains and focuses on issues that truly matter such as the refugee crisis, the environment, and the investigation of the deaths of Aboriginal women.
Isha Sheikh, 20, lives in Toronto and feels safe and secure knowing her prime minister’s relationship with Islam is a positive one. “It’s good to know that Canada has a leader who, on top of being white and non-Muslim, is so accepting of all cultures and religions. I’m not going to say that because of him, Islamophobia doesn’t exist or is coming to an end…but I would say that Trudeau being the way he is encourages everyone else to be accepting and loving as well.”
Sheikh continues enthusiastically, “I also feel like because so many other countries in comparison to Canada are seen as problematic, Canada is becoming one of the best countries in the world. This encourages us to make this country even better. Having such a Muslim friendly leader gives hope to the Muslim community and makes us feel better about our future in Canada because he’s already made such a difference within the short time he’s been around.”
Not only do Canadians feel this way, but Americans do too. Our prime minister showcases good behavior which allows him to clearly convey his message about unity, diversity and acceptance. Zeshan Bari, 21, lives in New York and feels that the recent political campaign in the US has exposed a lot of underlining tensions that are between the different communities that make up America. “After the recent events in Orlando, Brussels, and Paris, I feel cautious since I am a visible Muslim. Everyone I know tells me to be careful, and I have to be conscious of my surroundings.” He tweaks his glasses slightly and mutters, “Honestly, I still feel anxious going through airports and I feel so uncertain. And living in a supposedly progressive and liberal city, I still feel really unsure and cautious. If Clinton won and Trump lost, I feel like what has been said and done in this last campaign encouraged some of the worst people in our society and that’s unforgettable.”
When asked about Trudeau and Canada, Bari says, “Seeing Trudeau and how he’s being more inclusive of POC and Muslims and Islam—essentially all minority groups who have been historically underrepresented in politics— it’s very encouraging and a stark contrast between what we’re experiencing in the United States today. And when I visit Canada, I feel safer and I don’t feel the same tension I feel in New York. I feel less cautious, I don’t stick out and I feel like in the States, people are going to assume I’m Muslim and it makes me on guard and prepared to defend myself and my religion. In Canada, I don’t feel that…which…I don’t know maybe that’s a product of having Trudeau as a leader?”
The comparison between United States and Canada shows how differently a country can function when the leader is someone like Trudeau; kind, accepting and inclusive. Countries where leaders are more prone to be Islamophobic result in tearing their communities apart and allowing peoples’ diversities to separate them. It is important to know who you are electing as a leader, especially when you are a minority. Trudeau promised unity in his campaign and today, togetherness and acceptance is a large part of what makes Canada a great country.