Jun 10, 2021

Statement on Islamophobia

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Mural was made by 15 year old Yumna Afzaal
By Dr. Umberin Najeeb

Together We Stand

A simple act of a summer walk with family members on a Sunday evening should have not ended in such a tragic and catastrophic manner. This unfathomable act driven by Islamophobia and anti-Muslim hate has resulted in the loss of four members of the same family. Salman Afzaal graduated from the University of Toronto’s Department of Physical Medicine in 2013. Madiha Afzaal was completing her PHD from the University of Western Ontario and their 15 year old daughter was in grade 9. A nine year old boy is left an orphan. In this moment of shock, grief, sadness, fear, the Department of Medicine stands with our Muslim learners, colleagues and community members.

In the current COVID-19 pandemic we are witnessing an epidemic of hate, racism, and religious discrimination in our communities. The Department of Medicine is one of the largest and most diverse departments in the Temerty Faculty of Medicine at the University of Toronto; we have to move beyond words of acknowledgement and translate our emotions into actions. Lets take a step further and enhance our understanding of Islamophobia. Initiate an act of kindness and check in with our Muslim and non-Muslim colleagues. In these challenging times it is important to embody our role as social justice advocates to address Islamophobia and all forms of religious discrimination in our academic environments and healthcare settings.  

Wellness and counselling resources are available for learners https://pgme.utoronto.ca/current-trainees/while-youre-training/access-wellness-resources/ and faculty Physician Health Program (oma.org). Counselling services are also available through Muslim Chaplaincy (imams) at https://studentlife.utoronto.ca/directory-of-chaplains/. 

“Hate, it has caused a lot of problems in the world, but has not solved one yet.” -Maya Angelou.

on behalf of Dr. Umberin Najeeb, Faculty Lead Equity, Department of Medicine 

Umberin Najeeb, MD, FCPS (Pak), FRCPC

Assistant Professor of Medicine, Faculty Lead Equity &
Co-Director Master Teacher Program
Department of Medicine, University of Toronto

Faculty Lead IMG/IFT Mentorship Program
Core Internal Medicine Program, University of Toronto

Staff Internist , Division of General Internal Medicine
Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, Toronto