Canada: Muslim group sets recommendations to tackle Islamophobia

List of recommendations from National Council of Canadian Muslims come days before National Summit on Islamophobia.

Aya Elmallah, 24, holds up a sign during a rally to commemorate the Muslim family that was killed in London, Ontario, last month in what authorities called an attack motivated by hate [File: Carlos Osorio/Reuters]

A leading Muslim advocacy group has issued dozens of recommendations to tackle Islamophobia in Canada in the aftermath of deadly attacks and hate incidents targeting members of the Muslim community in recent years.

The National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) issued 61 recommendations on Monday, including the development of a federal anti-Islamophobia strategy by the end of the year and funding to help support victims of hate-motivated crimes.

“While we have heard many words from politicians condemning Islamophobia and standing in solidarity with Muslims in Canada, action to tackle Islamophobia has been slow and piecemeal,” the group said in its report.

The group also urged Canadian provinces to ensure their anti-racism directorates are well resourced and for municipalities to fund community-based efforts to tackle Islamophobia.

“We cannot stand by and see any more lives lost. Islamophobia is lethal and we need to see action now,” it said.

The recommendations come just days before a summit on Islamophobia that Canadian parliamentarians unanimously voted to hold in the aftermath of a deadly attack in London, Ontario, that killed four members of a Muslim family.

Local police said the attack was motivated by anti-Muslim hate and the suspect has been charged with “terrorism” offences.

The National Summit on Islamophobia will be held on Thursday, a day after a National Summit on Antisemitism.

“In Canada, diversity is one of our greatest strengths, yet we continue to see hate fueled by racism and discrimination take an unacceptable toll on our communities,” Bardish Chagger, Canada’s minister of diversity and inclusion and youth, said in a statement this month about the summits.

“We know that this serious issue will not be solved with a top-down approach, so we must actively listen to the voices of communities directly affected by racism.”

Muslim community advocates have raised alarm for years amid a string of violent attacks, including a deadly mass shooting at a mosque in Quebec City that left six Muslim worshippers dead in January 2017.

A caretaker of a mosque in the west end of Toronto, Ontario, was fatally stabbed in October last year, while Muslim women in Edmonton, Alberta, have demanded urgent action amid a string of verbal and physical attacks that they say has left them feeling unsafe.

This month, a mosque in Cambridge, Ontario, about 100km (62 miles) west of Toronto, was vandalised, while a Muslim mother and daughter in Hamilton, another city west of Toronto, were threatened by a driver who hurled racial slurs at them.

“An individual drove dangerously up to our family members. He swore at them. He cursed them with a number of racist and Islamophobic slurs. He threatened to murder them. He tried to tail them home in his vehicle. In light of the London attack, this is incredibly terrifying for our family,” the family, which has not been identified, said in a statement released by NCCM last week.

Mohamed Labidi, the former president of the Quebec mosque where the 2017 attack took place, said during a news conference on Monday that the mosque was invited to participate in the anti-Islamophobia summit.

“We were hit hard by Islamophobia and hate. We are the best positioned to give solutions to the government to fight against Islamophobia and hate in general,” Labidi told reporters in French.

Source: Al Jazeera