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January 20, 2013 / Man in the Mirror

cbc news: Muslim campaign against domestic violence kicks off

A new campaign against violence against women kicks off at the end of the month.

Ahmed Azzam is with the Muslim Association of Canada-Windsor. He is behind the local effort of the “Muslims for White Ribbon” campaign.

“Every mosque, Islamic centre, school and even the MSA on [the University of Windsor] campus will be utilizing lectures, Friday sermons, classes, anything they can do to speak, to tackle this issue,” Azzam said.

Two years ago, Azzam committed his life to one woman. Now he’s taken yet another pledge to never commit, condone or be silent about violence against violence women.

The campaign originally started in Toronto in 2011in reaction to the Shafia case, in which three sisters and their father’s first wife were killed in Kingston by family members.

“Personally, I’m a husband. I’m hoping soon to be a father to a daughter. I have sisters. I have lots of friends and I wouldn’t want what’s happened to happen to these women or girls in my life,” Azzam said.

Domestic violence organizations say this is an issue that impacts everyone. Here in the Windsor-Essex region, one in four women are victims of abuse.

“It is a societal issue and it doesn’t just impact one ethnic group. It crosses all socio-economic lines,” said Genevieve Isshak, clinical director residential and outreach services at the Hiatus House. “So the fact that the Muslim community is doing this I think is great.”.

Long before she met her husband Remy Boulbol was a victim of domestic violence. She carried the scars from that past relationship into her marriage and they surfaced during an argument with husband.

“I thought, ‘Oh god, he’s going to hit me now.’ He stopped and he turned around and looked at me and he saw the look of sheer terror on my face and he nearly – this 6-foot-2, 220-pound man – nearly crumpled at the look on my face and the idea that I thought that might happen.”

Boulbol said her husband and those with “Muslims for White Ribbon” can make a difference.

She said she hopes the campaign will grow to include a white ribbon March sometime in the future. Ahmed Azzam says he too hopes that will happen.

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