Is a Muslim help line necessary?

Is a Muslim help line necessary?


Photo: "Hello Yellow" by blogTO Flickr pooler dave_in_t_o.

The CBC is reporting that a new phone help line specifically for Muslim teens will be launching soon in Mississauga, allowing local youth to ask questions and get advice on matters that co-founder Farheen Khan believes other services are not well-prepared to address.

The Aqsa Parvez tragedy late last year increased the media awareness of the cultural and generational divide that exists in many parts of the city, bringing questions of religion, culture, tradition, and upbringing to the minds of many Torontonians.

The new help line, called Naseeha, will be staffed by anonymous peer counsellors and will provide young Muslims with an opportunity to have their voice heard on various matters that affect their everyday lives.

Looking closely, however, it isn't strange to ask: is this help line actually necessary?

I don't argue against the fact that youth — Muslim or otherwise — need an outlet to be heard and to get advice. What I am questioning is why a separate help line needs to be created when services like Kids Help Phone already exist.

Sure, Kids Help Phone may not have the resources or the skills necessary to deal with problems and issues that can be considered "Muslim" specific, but instead of creating a separate service, would it not be best to help established services build their capacity and knowledge?

I applaud the efforts of Naseeha creators to see the lack of outlets available for Muslim teens. Sadly, by creating an entirely separate help system instead of trying to add value and resources to existing services, they run the risk of further excluding the Muslim community at a time when what is needed most is inclusion and understanding.

Of course, I could be completely off-base here, so I welcome your thoughts and opinions. So tell me: is the new Muslim help line a bit exclusionary, or the best way to get out to people who need to be reached the most?


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