‘Feeling unsafe’: Muslim Canadians want politicians to do more against Islamophobia – National



Dareen Shilbayeh can’t help but look over his shoulder in public.

The London, Ont. Resident, who wears a hijab, said she feared being targeted for her faith since a Muslim family was killed in the city this summer.

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“Every turn I take, even at the mall, when it’s a public place, it’s like I have to be careful,” said the 19-year-old who grew up in London and is a university student. Western town.

It’s a sentiment many Muslim Canadians shared after four members of the Afzaal family, who were out for a walk in the evening, were run over and killed by a vehicle in what police described as a hate-motivated attack.

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In a vigil outside a London mosque two days after the June 6 tragedy, federal party leaders condemned Islamophobia and promised to fight it.

But some, including Shilbayeh, say there has been little action since then, and argue the issue was not discussed enough during the campaign.

“I don’t think they approached it in any way,” Shilbayeh said. “Act according to what you say. “

Gihan Shaheen, who also lives in London, feels the same way.

“They’re not helping at all,” said Shaheen, who also wears a hijab. “I don’t feel safe.”

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Muslim family killed in London, Ont. Attack identified

Muslim family killed in attack in London, Ont. Identified – June 8, 2021

Saboor Khan, a friend of the Afzaal family, said the issue of tackling Islamophobia appears to have been pushed back onto the political priority list.

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“There’s more attention than before, but I don’t think it’s enough,” he said.

The Liberals have said that if re-elected, the steps they will take to tackle Islamophobia will include presenting a national anti-hate action plan by 2022, investing 10 million dollars in a national fund for survivors of hate crimes and the introduction of a bill within 100 days. to combat hateful online content.

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“We recognize that much remains to be done, and a re-elected Liberal government will continue to work closely with Muslim communities and all Canadians to fight hate in Canada,” said spokesperson Adrienne Vaupshas.

Meanwhile, the Conservatives have said they are determined to work with the Muslim community to “do the hard work to find concrete solutions to these problems.” They also said they plan to tackle hate online “by clearly criminalizing statements that encourage violence against other identifiable people or groups.”

“A Conservative government will continue to fight Islamophobia, intolerance, hatred and institutional racism in Canada,” said party spokesman Mathew Clancy.

The NDP has said it will work with provinces, law enforcement and nonprofits to develop a “national action plan to dismantle far-right organizations.” The party said it will also work with justice officials to normalize the way hate crimes are handled by the courts.

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“The attack on London was a horrific by-product of the systemic racism and Islamophobia that Canada continues to struggle against,” said a spokesperson. “New Democrats know that we cannot turn away from this uncomfortable truth, but face it in order to eliminate it. “

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Muslim group visits New Brunswick to fight Islamophobia

Muslim group visits New Brunswick to fight Islamophobia – September 6, 2021

Aarij Anwer, an imam at the Muslim mosque in London, said it “meant a lot” for federal party leaders to attend the vigil held in London in the aftermath of the attack on the city.

“Not so long ago, even mentioning sympathies for Muslims would be seen as unbalanced for some politicians,” he said.

At the same time, Anwer said “this is not enough progress, because nothing has happened since then with the substance. “

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Fatema Abdalla, spokesperson for the National Council of Canadian Muslims, agreed, saying there is “certainly a lot more that could be discussed” by politicians vying to form the next federal government.

“Over the past few months, we have heard all political leaders come on the scene and commit to change,” she said. “However, it’s a little sad that we don’t see the same thinking in their platforms when it comes to real and tangible policy change and a commitment against Islamophobia.”

Abdalla said the national organization is calling on the next federal government to create a national action plan against white supremacy and to challenge Quebec’s Bill 21 in court, among other measures. This law prohibits some public sector workers from wearing religious symbols, including turbans, kippas and hijabs in the workplace.

Anwer, from the London Mosque, said he would like to see a non-partisan office set up to specifically tackle Islamophobia as well as a dedicated office to tackle hate crimes.

He added that he hoped people would recognize the problem of Islamophobia and other forms of discrimination as a “Canadian problem” that deserves to be tackled.

“It’s not something that’s going to go away,” he said. “I hope Canadians don’t see this as something that can be ignored and hopefully just out of sight, out of mind. It is a problem that must be tackled head-on. “

© 2021 The Canadian Press


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