Naseeha: The Muslim kids help line

Today’s Globe and Mail (G&M) reports on a story about a young Christian woman who converted to Islam as a teen, without her parent’s knowledge. She empathizes with Aqsa Parvez and other teens who are not in step with their parents beliefs. She wishes she had someone to talk to when she was navigating/negotiating her beliefs with her parents.

The story tells us that such help is available: a help line, called Naseeha, or “advice” in Arabic has been in existence since 2005 and operates out of Mississauga. Ostensibly, like the Kids Help Phone line (est. 1989) the advice line provides advice and support, but specifically support to Muslim youth who are, according to the story experiencing “the pull between two worlds”. The now 27-year Muslim convert says the murder of Aqsa Parvez and other so-called “honour killings” are not Muslim issues, but cultural issues and that phone lines like Naseeha respond to the specific issues experienced by newcomer children and youth.

If you surf over to Kids Help Phone, you can see that among the FAQ kids pose are questions related to discrimination, prejudice, diversity and inclusion. The G&M says that Tarek Fatah, a frequent critic of Fundamentalist Muslim practices in Canada, calls the advice line “anti-Western” and believes advice provided would be critical of Canadian ways.

In response, the co-founder of Naseeha defends the need for a separate advice line: ‘You have a Mercedes, you take it to a Mercedes mechanic’. Further: “We lead them to the facts in the Koran, and to what they want to do. We don’t decide on someone’s behalf”.

What do you think? Do immigrant/refugee children and youth need a separate advice help line?