Lineman turns teacher

JIM BENDER -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 7:56 AM ET

The resident Muslim in the Winnipeg Blue Bombers camp was unaware that a Muslim mosque in Toronto had been targeted by vandals recently.

And it is believed that it was damaged because 17 suspected terrorists were recently arrested in Eastern Canada.

But Obby Khan is well aware of the misconceptions that exist about his chosen faith.

"That's definitely upsetting," the offensive lineman said yesterday in response to the mosque being targeted. "It's definitely tragic, the state of affairs going on in the world today. Everyone can see that, whether you're Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Hindu. Any time you see something like that happen, it's definitely upsetting."

Unfortunately, terrorists are being associated with Islam these days despite the fact that an overwhelming number of Muslims believe that there can be no justification for terrorism.

Although the Toronto mosque was hit, Khan is not overly-concerned about the safety of his family in Ottawa.

"I'm not worried about my family being targeted," he said. "Everybody has to be concerned about what's happening. I mean, there's a reason why these people are doing the things they believe in. Now, we have to figure out why they're doing it and get away from that. That has more to do with than being Muslim. It affects everyone. I mean, every time something happens, it's not like only the Muslim stuff or only the Christian stuff or on only the non-believers' stuff. It's everyone, the whole world, the whole society."

Khan, 25, has been educating his new teammates about his religion.

"Being a devout Muslim, people are curious more than anything," he said. "They want to know what's going on and it's just through the lack of education on the topic that leads to fear and hatred and ignorance. And prejudice, too.

"So, I try to talk to guys and say, 'Hey, this is what Islam is about, it has nothing to do with what's going on (with terrorists).' Once you educate people, it gets people away from being ignorant. I've already talked to 40 guys about my diet, about world affairs and already guys are saying, 'Wow, we didn't know that.' So already, you're dispelling a lot of misconceptions about Islam and that's what I use my role as on the team and hopefully, I will get out in the community and talk to people about stuff like that."

Khan said hasn't experienced any particular prejudice.

"Being such a visible minority, I haven't felt any," he said. "People might look at me (differently) just because of my size -- just because I'm 6-foot-4 and 300 pounds, or because I'm Pakistani, or because I'm Muslim, or just because I hang out with big guys. It's a whole lot of things but anybody who gets to talk to me knows that this guy's OK.

"In all faiths and all societies and all groups, there's always some people who have their own views and do what they want and unfortunately, that has an impact on everyone."


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