Hate crimes against Muslim-Canadians more than doubled in 3 years

By Anna Mehler Paperny
Senior Producer, Global News | April 13, 2016

The number of police-reported hate crimes targeting Muslim-Canadians more than doubled over a three-year period — even as the total number of hate crimes dropped.

In 2014, police forces across the country recorded 99 religiously motivated hate crimes against Muslims — up from 45 in 2012.

. . .

The National Council of Canadian Muslims has been swamped with reports of Islamophobic hate crimes: Four in one day this week, says spokesperson Amira Elghawaby — and they’re investigating a fifth.

“We’re deeply, deeply, deeply concerned,” she said.

“We live in a pluralistic society that really celebrates its diversity. And inclusion is the key to public safety. It’s so critical that we get this right.”

It isn’t clear whether the increase means there are more xenophobic crimes happening or that more of them are being reported, Elghawaby said.

“We do know that people are often reluctant to report a hate crime because there might be a sense of humiliation, a sense of bringing negative attention to themselves. And not always sure they’re going to get support.”

But she’s seen a spike in response to Islamophobic rhetoric in public discourse — whether during Canada’s election campaign, which featured a tipline for “barbaric cultural practices,” or in the wake of terrorist attacks in Paris last fall.

Even the widespread use of “Islamic State” to refer to the power-hungry group terrorizing Iraqi and Syrian civilians while sending radicalized emissaries to blow themselves up in European cities, she says, is “tarring the entire community.”

The result is that people feel unsafe in their neighbourhoods, in grocery stores, on public transit.

“Schools are asking for workshops on Islamophobia. This is becoming more top-of-mind, which we welcome,” Elghawaby said.

She argues it’s crucial for witnesses of hatred and ordinary Canadians to step up — it’s not enough to not actively participate in attacks.

“Canadians are overwhelmingly warm, generous, compassionate people who respect diversity.”

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