New charter urges Canadians to unite against Islamophobia

Toronto Star | July 4, 2016

Politicians, law enforcement agencies and community groups are set to publicly declare their solidarity with Muslim Canadians at the launch of a charter condemning Islamophobia across Canada.

News conferences are planned to announce the endorsement of the charter in Toronto, Calgary, Montreal, Vancouver, Windsor and London, where two random attacks on Muslims were reported recently.

“Islamophobia, like all other forms of racism, hate, xenophobia and bigotry, has no place in Canadian society,” said the Charter for Inclusive Communities, which was initiated by the National Council of Canadian Muslims.

“All levels of government, civil society, communities and public officials have a duty to work together in developing policies, programs and initiatives to reduce and eliminate Islamophobia in all of its forms.”

The initiative was prompted by a dramatic increase in hate crimes against Muslims in recent years.

“Islamophobia is real and it is wrong, despite what some may say to downplay it or dismiss it,” said the charter in its preamble.

“This type of hate and discrimination tells Canadian Muslims that they do not belong by isolating them and their communities through stigmatization and casting them as outsiders and the ‘other.’ ”

According to Statistics Canada data, police reports of hate crimes against Muslim-Canadians have doubled from 54 incidents in 2012 to 99 in 2014, while overall hate crimes were down over the same period.

“This only represents what is reported, as Statistics Canada reports that up to two-thirds of hate crimes are never even reported at all,” said Amira Elghawaby of the National Council of Canadian Muslims.

“The goal of the charter is to bring Canadians together to reaffirm our shared values of equality, respect and justice for all people in Canada. This charter is a clear statement of solidarity and unity against Islamophobia.”