Hate crimes targeting Muslims up in 2015

Toronto Star | June 13, 2017

The number of hate crimes targeting members of Toronto’s Muslim community was on the rise in 2015, police say, despite a drop in the overall number of hate crimes reported that year in the Toronto area.

More than one-fifth of Canada’s 1,362 reported hate crimes in 2015 were in the Toronto area, where 295 incidents were reported to police, according to a Statistics Canada report released Tuesday. That number was down from 318 in 2014.

Nationally, the number of hate crimes rose five per cent, driven by an increase of incidents targeting Muslims from 99 to 159. Jews remained the most targeted religious group with 178 incidents across Canada, down from 213.

Close to half of all hate crimes were motivated by hatred of a race or ethnicity, including 469 against the black population, up from 429. About 11 per cent targeted sexual orientation.

Gilary Massa, a Toronto-based advocacy coordinator for the National Council of Canadian Muslims, said the findings confirmed what the organization has observed both locally and across the country.

“We know that during the last federal election, there were some real big debates around the Muslim-Canadian identity,” said Massa, pointing to focus on the niqab and the proposal of a “barbaric culture practices” hotline.

Massa said the organization keeps its own tally of hate incidents against Muslims. It recorded 20 in 2015, and she said they continue to occur at that pace.

“We know that women who choose to wear the hijab are often the main targets of Islamophobic or hateful incidents,” Massa said.

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