By: Isabel Iglesias
JHR Concordia and the Thaqalayn Muslim Association of Concordia have come together again to present a night in commemoration of Malcolm X, a human rights activist who had many lessons and values that were relevant to the theme of the evening: the Illusion of Rights. Malcolm was faced with many questions of identity, towards the end of his life he proved that he can stand for his own race and religion but also took a stand against racism, and prejudice.
Last night Malcolm X’s beliefs were projected through two spoken word artists: Jamal Rogers, and Nasim Asgari. Rogers began with his own rendition of Canada’s National Anthem, breaking down every verse to elaborate on how Canada does not stand true to its national song by exposing the mistreatment of the First Nations.
Nasim Asgari took the stage and beautifully voiced a piece she wrote at eleven-years-old about the great Malcolm X. She then proceeded with a more recent piece that proved her maturity and understanding of the world at only seventeen-years-old.
The night continued with three distinct speakers, the first presented by JHR. Ethan Cox, a journalist, editor, communications consultant and one of the founders of Ricochet Media. Cox was persuasive and clear in his talk explaining that we need new media forms that are non-profit, non-corporate, and fully independent. As Cox talked about the illusion of the media he explained how it could be blamed by true journalism fading away with the expansion of the Internet and social media. Journalists are not eager to voice their opinions and provide fair coverage of stories because they are afraid of risking work and pay.
Dr. Randy Short was up next to the podium beginning with a soulful song to get the crowd engaged. Dr. Short described Malcolm X as a martyr comparing him to powerful figures throughout history: Che Guevara, Muammar Gaddafi, Hugo Chavez. As a Christian, Dr. Short was adamant on expressing he had as much love for followers of his own religion as for Muslims, Jews, and anyone of any colour and sex. He also made the audience think with his unique and fresh views on ISIS, Ebola, and the murder of Malcolm Shabazz (Malcolm X’s grandson).
The last speaker Hajj Hassanain Rajabali shifted the night from politics to spirituality. A man who stopped chasing money to become a philanthropist, Hassanain Rajabali was quoting verses of the Qur’an in Arabic. Using his way powerful way with the English language he then translated the verses so that the audience could better understand the beautiful lessons held in every verse. As he spoke about his God, and how he sees him in everyone and everything he became very emotional and while his voice disheartened, and his speech slowed down a single tear rolled down his cheek.
“Sometimes I am in the airport and I look around and I don’t see anyone who is ugly, I see beauty in everyone. God in everyone”.
The event ended with a question panel with the three very different men seated side by side: a Muslim philanthropist; a Christian scholar; and an Atheist journalist. The audience was thirsty for information about Ethan Cox’s new and innovative media form, questions about Randy Short and his views on Charlie Hebdo and Oprah Winfrey, and advice from Hajj Hassanain Rajabali on the inner struggle for spirituality and historical lessons of Islam and slavery. Although these three men represented very different cultures they all seemed to be in agreement with their values of human rights and equality.