Incidents targeting Muslims drove rise in hate crimes in 2015: StatsCan

The Canadian Press | June 13, 2017

OTTAWA — An increase in incidents targeting the Muslim population drove a five per cent rise in hate crimes in 2015, Statistics Canada reported Tuesday.

Hate crimes targeting Muslims rose from 99 incidents in 2014 to 159 incidents in 2015, the agency said. The total number of criminal incidents motivated by hate was 1,362, 67 more than the year before.

« The number of hate crimes presented in this release likely undercounts the true extent of hate crime in Canada, as not all crimes are reported to police, » Statistics Canada said in a note accompanying Tuesday’s data release.

The agency did note that in 2015, police services increased outreach to ethnic groups and, in addition, the National Council of Canadian Muslims made efforts to encourage reporting of hate crimes to police.

A spokesperson for the organization, Amira Elghawaby, said Tuesday that former prime minister Stephen Harper’s decision to focus on the use of face coverings at citizenship ceremonies during the 2015 election campaign contributed to discrimination among Muslim women.

« You can almost immediately see the moment that Mr. Harper started talking about the face veil, we immediately started getting reports of women being harassed in Canada, » she said during a news conference on Parliament Hill.

« We can’t make a direct link per se but … certainly it was a factor. »

Of the hate crimes reported to police, 48 per cent were motivated by hatred of a race or ethnicity, 35 per cent were motivated by hatred of a religion, and 11 per cent were hate crimes targeting sexual orientation.

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Part of this work will involve police services across Canada to reporting annually on hate crimes and incidents, said Elghawaby.

« Toronto police and Hamilton are the only police services that we are aware of that do that, » she said. « Everybody else is only reporting to Stats Canada . . . that’s why we are here talking about 2015 numbers. We need these numbers sooner. »

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