Toronto Canada – Canada has suffered more Islamophobia-motivated mass killings in the past five years than any other G7 country, according to the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM).
While political leaders have taken positive steps to combat Islamophobia, Canadian Muslims, who make up 3.2 percent of the country’s population, say that much remains to be done to address the problem as Canada prepares to vote in the next federal elections on September 20.
There is a “sense of fear and frustration” among Muslims as many women have been verbally and physically assaulted in Edmonton, Noor al-Henedy, director of communications and public relations at the al-Rashid Mosque in Edmonton, told Al Jazeera, Alberta.
Caution has been especially heightened since June, when a man ran over a Muslim family on his night walk with his pickup truck in London, Ontario, killing four of the family members. A nine-year-old boy was the only member of the Afzaal family to survive, but he suffered serious injuries.
Some hijab-wearing women and girls have chosen to wear touches to cover their hair when going for a walk, especially at night, so that they are not visibly Muslim and a target, al-Henedy said.
“They are more attentive. They don’t go out for a walk putting on their air capsules. They try to go out in a group, ”he said.
“Talk about attacks against [Muslims] it’s a huge shock to us. “
Since 2017, 11 Canadian Muslims have been killed in three deadly attacks fueled by Islamophobia.
In 2017, Alexandre Bissonnette stormed a mosque in Quebec City, killing six Muslim worshipers and wounding several more, the worst anti-Muslim mass murder in Canadian and American history.
In September 2020, a suspected neo-Nazi Satanist fatally stabbed 58-year-old Mohamed-Aslim Zafis in an unprovoked attack outside a Toronto mosque where he volunteered as a caretaker.
Mosques like al-Rashid have been subjected to vandalism and threats. Earlier this month, the Langley Islamic Center in British Columbia received an anonymous note, threatening the mosque to close in two months, or else a Christchurch-inspired murder would ensue.
We are aware of a violent threat directed at the Muslim community in Langley, BC.
We are in contact with the Langley Islamic Center and will provide further updates as they become available. pic.twitter.com/JrPuD4PCuH
– NCCM (@nccm) September 1, 2021
Al-Henedy said that while federal party leaders have supported verbally, especially after the Islamophobic attacks, “not much work is being done on the ground.”
The Alberta government provided the al-Rashid mosque with some additional funding to support a self-defense initiative for Muslim women and other programs, but it was “more at the grassroots organization level, not at the national or provincial level,” al- Henedy said. .
“I don’t mean that words no longer matter, but they are no longer powerful enough. We need changes on the ground. We need this problem to be taken seriously because we cannot afford to lose any more lives. “
‘Address second-class citizenship’
TO Ipsos survey released Wednesday showed that the Liberals, led by incumbent Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and the Conservatives led by leader Erin O’Toole, are in a “tie” in the federal race.
Both were predicted to win 32 percent of the decided national popular vote, with the New Democratic Party (NDP) in third place, receiving 21 percent of the vote.
The NCCM said the current liberal government has acted to address Islamophobia by taking a firmer stance on dismantling white supremacist groups, but that some gaps still need to be addressed.
The council noted that none of the federal leaders in the run-up to the elections have committed to fighting Quebec’s 21 bill in court.
The bill, adopted in 2019, prohibits some officials, including teachers, police officers and government lawyers, from wearing religious symbols at work (such as the hijab, kippah or turban).
When the moderator asked Yves Francois Blanchet, leader of the Bloc Quebecois why his party “supports these discriminatory laws” like Bill 21, during the televised debate of the leaders last week, the question was met with a wave of criticism. .
The top three federal leaders asked for an apology from the consortium of media broadcasters, calling the question about Quebec’s secularism law offensive and unfair.
Mustafa Farooq, executive director of NCCM, told Al Jazeera that the top three leaders have sacrificed “principle for political expediency.”
“The fact that someone has apologized because someone has the recklessness to ask a question about a bill that is discriminatory because of their faith is mind blowing to me,” Farooq said.
The NCCM said in Twitter: “We cannot take the fight against Islamophobia seriously, but not commit to addressing second-class citizenship on the books of Muslims who choose to wear the hijab in Quebec.”
‘Lack of response’
The Conservative Party of Canada has said it is committed to fighting incitement to harm online, but there are no mention of Islamophobia or racism across its platform, the council said.
The party has shown “a lack of response to a series of political recommendations presented during the National Summit on Islamophobia. Of the more than 30 national recommendations submitted by NCCM, the Conservative party only committed to two, ”said the NCCM.
While federal leaders have spoken about Islamophobia in the election campaign, “it is very evident that the three did not do what needed to be done in terms of fully addressing the rise in hatred and the reality of systemic discrimination in this country.” , Farooq said.
Among the dozens of proposals listed in its Federal Election Policy Guide (PDF) Released last week, the NCCM is asking for funding for a special envoy to tackle Islamophobia.
For Steven Zhou, in incident It struck close to home last July when a man stood outside the Toronto mosque entrance, where he volunteered as a caretaker, and made derogatory comments and threats to worshipers when they arrived for a sermon Friday afternoon.
Fortunately, the incident did not cause any deaths or injuries and the man left before the police arrived.
Zhou told Al Jazeera that the government still does not “understand us very well.”
“The liberal and progressive wing say they are friends of Islam, but most have never been involved in the Muslim community before,” Zhou said.
“They see Islamophobia, Muslims as potential opportunities to get votes that belong to their platforms, not as fully living human beings with complex existences.”