NCCM: Government’s Terrorism Report Unfairly Stigmatizes Canadian Minority Communities

-For Immediate Release-

Urges government to recognize report’s deeply flawed nature and to stop using misleading language in public reports

(Ottawa – December 14, 2018) The National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM), a prominent civil liberties and advocacy organization, says that the federal government’s 2018 Public Report on the Terrorism Threat to Canada unfairly stigmatizes Canadian Muslim communities and other racialized minority groups while minimizing the growing role of white supremacist and far-right groups in perpetuating violent attacks inside Canada.

In recent months, senior law enforcement officials have stated that far-right extremists are becoming more “emboldened” in Canada.

“It is deeply disappointing that the government’s latest public report on terrorism uses counter-productive language and selective analysis that only perpetuate harmful stereotypical views about Canadian Muslims and reinforce the securitization of Muslim communities. Over the years, we have repeatedly urged the government to abandon the use of loaded, misleading and vague terms like ‘Islamist extremism’ which only serve to falsely conflate the threat of terrorism with Canadian Muslim communities and to create public misunderstanding about national security concerns,” says NCCM Executive Director Ihsaan Gardee.

The report contains several problematic elements including:

  • Under a graphic titled “Key Plots or Attacks Conducted in Canada”, the report only references attacks involving Muslims and does not mention any of the right-wing extremist attacks in Canada from recent years.
  • Erroneously includes the July 2013 ‘Canada Day Plot’ which was found by a B.C. superior court judge to be a case of entrapment by law enforcement.
  • Describing « Sikh extremism » as a current terrorism threat without any substantiation of this claim, especially given no terrorist incidents involving Sikhs in Canada have occurred in over 30 years.
  • Despite several cases of online threats by anti-Muslim extremists, the report concludes that right-wing extremist groups do not tend to promote violence.

“This report fails to properly account for the growing prominence of white supremacist and far-right groups in Canada and minimizes the impact of their hateful ideologies in launching violent attacks by describing them generally as ‘sporadic’ and ‘opportunistic’. By doing so, the government is harmfully suggesting to the Canadian public that only Muslims and other racialized communities are the real terrorist threat,” says NCCM Communications Coordinator Leila Nasr.

“In the context of today’s political climate, the consequences of poorly developed and skewed reports to the public are that minority Canadian Muslim and Sikh communities are made more vulnerable. As a result, we are left with little reason to trust that the security establishment takes the interests and safety of our communities seriously,” adds Nasr.

“We urge the government to recognize the deeply flawed nature of this report and to end using misleading and stigmatizing language in its public reporting on national security issues,” says Gardee.

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