NCCM denounces latest anti-Muslim incidents
Calls on leaders to speak out
(Ottawa – October 2, 2014) The National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM), a prominent Muslim civil liberties & advocacy organization, today condemns a recent spate of anti-Muslim hate incidents and urges political and community leaders to speak out publicly against Islamophobia, particularly at a time of heightened geopolitical tensions.
On September 26, shots were fired at the Pickering Islamic Centre in Southern Ontario while worshippers were inside. A few days later, the words « F*** Islam » were spray painted at a train overpass a few kilometers away.
That same week in Windsor, Ontario, police say they believe a Muslim-owned hair salon was deliberately set on fire. The shop owner said that shots had been fired around the store earlier in the week, and that the windows had been spray painted with anti-Arab messages.
« With the ongoing coverage of violent extremism being perpetrated in the name of Islam and Muslims, we notice a spike in reported hate crimes and incidents, » says Amy Awad, NCCM’s Human Rights Coordinator. « And this only tells part of the story as hate crimes are typically underreported. The current geopolitical climate offers a fertile breeding ground for those few who choose to act out their bigotry by attacking Canadians in their places of worship and businesses. »
« These reports are deeply troubling and there is real concern within Canadian Muslim communities about the possibility that such incidents will only escalate in the days and weeks ahead with increased focus on military interventions in the Middle East, » says NCCM Executive Director Ihsaan Gardee.
« We call on our federal, provincial, and municipal leaders to speak out forcefully and clearly against anti-Muslim sentiment, and to reiterate that violent extremists do not represent Muslims or Islam. It is their duty, as well as the duty of all Canadians, to stand united against any attacks on minority communities.
« We are confident that these incidents do not represent the sentiments of the vast majority of Canadians.
« We fully expect the authorities to prosecute the perpetrators to the fullest extent of the law in order to send a strong message against potential hate crimes and intolerance, » says Gardee.
The NCCM urges anyone with any information about either of these incidents to contact their local police service.
« We urge community leaders to remain vigilant and to immediately report suspicious behaviour to the proper authorities, as well as to the NCCM, in order to establish a clear record of such incidents. »
For more information on keeping their communities safe, the NCCM urges Muslim communities across the country to review the NCCM’s community safety guide. The NCCM presents workshops to educate communities about their rights and responsibilities when confronted with a possible hate crime.
The NCCM is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit grassroots advocacy organization. It is a leading voice for Muslim civic engagement and the promotion of human rights.
Amy Awad, Human Rights Coordinator, 613.254.9704; amy.awad(at)nccm.ca