NCCM: Claims of Islamophobia and discrimination inside CSIS « deeply disturbing »

-For Immediate Release-

Perceptions of bias within security agencies risk eroding public confidence

(Ottawa – July 14, 2017)  The National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM), a prominent civil liberties & advocacy organization, says allegations contained in a lawsuit filed yesterday by five employees of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) about pervasive discrimination, racism and Islamophobia within the spy agency are « deeply disturbing and should be investigated immediately. »

The lawsuit,  which does not publicly identify the five individuals making the claims against CSIS, details various incidents involving staff and management.  A Black woman, a gay man, two Muslim men, and a Muslim woman are at the center of the lawsuit and describe some of their experiences in the 54-page claim,  including:

  • A manager yelled that « all Muslims are terrorists ».
  • A Muslim intelligence officer faced scrutiny about how she could carry out her duties after she started wearing the hijab.
  • A supervisor stated that U.S. President Barack Obama was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood.
  • A colleague told a gay employee whose partner is Muslim that: « Careful
    your Muslim in-laws don’t behead you in your sleep for being homo. »
  • The claimants allege that management ignored or dismissed their complaints of discrimination.  They allege that a culture of impunity caused them additional harm and left them no choice but to commence legal action.

    « For several years, concerns have been frequently raised about racial profiling and discrimination by CSIS against Canadian Muslim communities, and against other minorities.  If proven, these allegations point to a poisonous culture within the Service and raise questions about its ability to carry out its mandate for the benefit of all Canadians without discrimination, » says NCCM Executive Director Ihsaan Gardee.

    « These allegations are of particular concern in light of the recent debate on the intrusive security powers given to CSIS under new national security legislation. It is unacceptable for discriminatory attitudes to be left unchecked in any context, but especially in the context of intelligence gathering when Canadian Muslims already face disproportionate scrutiny.

    « The NCCM will be following this case closely and will await its full outcome before drawing any conclusions.  At the same time, these serious allegations necessitate the government to take immediate preventative action.  Canadians need to be reassured that they can fully trust their national intelligence agency to fulfill its mandate professionally and without bias, » says Gardee.

    The NCCM is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit advocacy organization. It is a leading voice for Muslim civic engagement and the promotion of human rights.