Antiracist activist Aziz Khaki left a big footprint, MP Libby Davies says
The NDP MP for Vancouver East, Libby Davies, supports the establishment of a permanent memorial in Vancouver for antiracist activist and Muslim community leader Aziz Khaki. Davies made the comment on July 8 at a service honouring Khaki, who died on May 22 at the age of 82.
“It would be lovely if one of the lanes or something, a park or a square or something, would be known as Aziz Khaki, because he did have an enormous reach in this city,” the NDP MP told the Straight. “He left a big footprint.”
During the service at a community hall in Southwest False Creek, Davies offered lavish praise for the cofounder of the Committee for Racial Justice. “Whenever I saw him over many years—decades—what I remember most is this amazing smile of welcome, of joy, of love, of encouragement to people to be engaged,” she said.
At the same event, Liberal senator Mobina Jaffer, an Ismaili Muslim, described Khaki as a “good quilter” in the sense that he was able to pull together people with different views in the Muslim community. She called him a “bridge builder” because he connected local Muslims with the rest of society.
“He understood us all and he spoke for us all,” Jaffer told people at the gathering.
Khaki was born in Zanzibar in East Africa and moved to Vancouver in the 1970s. After arriving here, he worked closely with Sunni and Shia Muslims and never made a big deal about which path of Islam he preferred. Over many years, he offered advice to the media, police, and other institutions to help promote greater understanding of diversity and encourage the hiring of people from different cultures. He generated news from time to time by publicly opposing neo-Nazis, supporting the wearing of turbans by RCMP officers, filing antidiscrimination complaints, and working with religious leaders of many faiths to restore calm after the 9-11 attacks.
Khaki’s son, El-Farouk Khaki, a Toronto lawyer, joked at the service that his father was always giving candy to children and feeding cats, “even when they weren’t hungry”.
Khaki’s former colleague at the Committee for Racial Justice, Meryam Abbasi, described how he walked off a bus in apartheid-era South Africa rather than be told where to sit. “He gave an earful to the driver before leaving,” Abbasi recalled.
She pointed out that Khaki wanted to live in a society rooted in equality, human rights, and dignity for everyone. “His passion inspired me to live my life with the same values,” Abbasi declared.