B.C. legal groups and lawyers set up hotline to help victimized Muslims

Camille Bains, The Canadian Press
CTV News | March 9, 2016

VANCOUVER – Legal groups and lawyers in Vancouver have banded together to launch a hotline for Muslims who have faced discrimination in British Columbia because of their religion.

The Islamophobia Legal Assistance Hotline is supported by various organizations including the B.C. Civil Liberties Association, the B.C. branch of the Canadian Bar Association and groups that represent black, Asian and South Asian lawyers.

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Amira Elghawaby, a spokeswoman for the National Council of Canadian Muslims, said Muslim women who wear a niqab or a hijab are victimized more often than Muslim men but about two thirds of incidents are never reported.

“It’s rather unfortunate, but what we’re noting, and what Statistics Canada’s most recent data show, is that there is a rise in anti-Muslim incidents,” she said from Ottawa.

“Canadian Muslims are looking for and need support,” she said, adding there’s typically an immediate spike in discrimination after a terrorist attack allegedly involving Muslims.

“Right after the Paris bombing, within 24 hours there was a mosque in Peterborough that was fire bombed and a woman walking to school to pick up her children was beaten up in broad daylight.”

So far across Canada this year, 10 hate crimes against Muslims have been reported to police in Ontario, B.C., Quebec and Alberta, compared to three at the same time last year, Elghawaby said.

They include vandalism as well as verbal, physical and online harassment, she said.

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