World, Americas

Islamophobia remains in Canada after mosque shooting

Hate incidents, Bill 21 target Muslims

Barry Ellsworth   | 29.01.2020
Islamophobia remains in Canada after mosque shooting


The anniversary of the Quebec City mosque shooting should be used to look at hate and Islamophobia in Canada, community groups said Wednesday.

Canadians “will never forget their memory and honor them by fighting Islamophobia,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s said in a statement marking the third anniversary of the shooting at the Centre Culturel Islamique de Quebec.

The horrific attack Jan. 29, 2017 saw six worshippers die and 19 wounded by a lone gunman.

But while politicians and members of the general public lined up in sympathy with Muslims in the days after the massacre, some parts that has faded away.

“For a moment, it seemed that Canada and governments and society was ready to meet the challenge of this type of discrimination,” said Amira Elghawaby of the Canadian Anti-Hate Network. “But then, that moment sort of dissipated.”

In other words, Islamophobia, racism and discrimination remained.

In 2017, there were 349 incidents of hate crimes against Muslims reported by police. That was an increase from 139 in 2016. In 2018 , the latest figure available, the number was 173.

But the situation is much worse, since according to Statistics Canada, about two-thirds of hate crimes go unreported.

One of the problems in tackling hate crimes is that many Canadians have a hard time acknowledging that Islamophobia exists.

Ayesha S. Chaudhry of the University of British Columbia participated in hearings on Bill M-103, a federal proposal to condemn Islamophobia brought forth a month after the mosque attack. “Instead of thinking about the people that had clearly been targeted and murdered because they were Muslim, and having a conversation – what is it about our culture and our country, what is it about our education system, what is it about our media that fosters this kind of hatred against Muslims – the conversation was, ‘Is this even a thing?’” Chaudhry said.

The motion passed, but Member of Parliament Iqra Khalid, who put for the bill, was the target of so many threats she had to have police protection for a period.

And Bill 21, the new Quebec law that forbids many civil servants from wearing religious symbols at work, is seen by many Muslim groups as an attack on those who wear the hijab.

Quebec Premier Francois Legault is slated to attend Wednesday’s community supper to remember the victims of the attack and mosque President Boufeldja Benabdallah said Legault is sure to be asked a question.

“They’ll surely ask him to be the premier of all Quebecers, which is what he promised to be,” Benabdallah said. “And if they insist on that point, it will be because he hasn’t lived up to that promise with Bill 21. That hurt us.”

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