MONTREAL — The following was a document submitted to the Canadian National Summit to Combat Islamophobia by Imam Hassan Guillet, member of the Table interreligieuse de concertation in Quebec.
On June 6, 2021, a walk in a park in London, Ont. ended in a bloodbath, like on Jan. 29, 2017 when prayer in a mosque in Quebec also ended tragically.
In both cases, the killers did not know their victims. They chose them at random for the simple reason that they are Muslims.
To deny the existence of Islamophobia in these two and many other cases, even less bloody, would be like putting your head in the sand.
On Feb. 3, 2017, during my tribute to the victims of the massacre at the Grand Mosque of Quebec, I launched a cry from the heart so that after Jan. 29, 2017 should be different from before that day.
I have also called on our leaders and our entire society to take the necessary measures to ensure that these victims are the last victims of hatred and hate propaganda.
Unfortunately, there was one more murder in Toronto and four others in London. To these murders must be added the violent attacks on racialized women wearing hijabs, the hate rallies in front of mosques, and the targeting of Canadians of Muslim faith and Muslim community organizations by government agencies across Canada.
There was, following each of these attacks, a lot of speeches of sympathy and solidarity.
On March 23, 2017, the House of Commons adopted Motion-103 which condemned Islamophobia and “all forms of racism and systemic religious discrimination.” It also asked that a committee undertake a study on how the government could eliminate this problem and collect data on hate crimes.
On Jan. 28, 2021, the federal government announced its intention to make Jan. 29 the National Day of Commemoration of the Quebec Mosque Attack and of Action Against Islamophobia, in honour of the victims and in solidarity with the survivors of this tragedy.
These are steps in the right direction.
Unfortunately, we see the condemnation and the commemoration but we do not see the action to protect society from Islamophobia.
It’s time to act.
The victims of Quebec, Toronto, and London were killed because they were Muslims.
Islamophobia threatens not only Muslims but society as a whole.
As the slogan “Black Lives Matter” was repeated after the murder of George Floyd and the slogan “Every Child Matters” after the discovery of the remains of the Indigenous children, it is time to declare the slogan: “Muslim Lives Matter.”
The victims of the Quebec City and London killings were academics and professionals who contributed very positively to the society they chose and which welcomed them.
After the families of the victims, the biggest loser was not their countries of origin but rather this host society they served with dedication and loyalty.
The fight against Islamophobia is the responsibility of the three levels of government, the media, academic institutions, private sector institutions as well as the responsibility of each one of us.
Here are some recommendations that can help protect society from the dangers of Islamophobia:
- Pass laws and regulations to define and prohibit Islamophobia like all other forms of discrimination and hatred.
- Create a comission office at the federal level and in each province to monitor the progress of the fight against Islamophobia and other forms of hatred.
- Regulate social media to stop the spread of the culture of hate.
- Put an end to the tacit practices of certain government agencies of profiling and targeting of citizens of Muslim faith and of Muslim community organizations.
- White supremacist individuals and groups seem to have succeeded in infiltrating the ranks of the armed forces and certain police forces. It is important that these forces are at the service of citizens and that they ensure the protection of all citizens without discrimination.
- Our enemy is ignorance. It is time to revise our school and university curricula to show our students that their Muslim colleague is a partner in society and not an enemy or a threat.
- It is important to design and implement awareness programs in public, para-public and even private institutions in order to help people understand the issues and consequences of discriminatory practices.
- After all and probably above all, it is the responsibility of each one of us to be part of the solution and not of the problem. We should all have an obligation not to accept or tolerate injustice, discrimination, or hatred regardless of the identity of the perpetrator or victim.
Imam Hassan Guillet, member of the Table interreligieuse de concertation in Quebec.