Muslim Canadians have and continue to face numerous issues in Canada. From the Quebec Mosque shooting to hate crimes against Muslim women to lack of representation in the public sphere and the list goes on, it is time that we address these issues as a community.
Islamophobia is real and present in Canada. Islamophobia is systemic in Canada. For something to be systemic, it must be prevalent in and perpetuated by institutions rather than an individual’s bias and misconceptions. We must eradicate Islamophobia in our institutions so that it is not normalized and passed on to Canadians.
Although the term ‘hate crime’ is not codified in the Criminal Code of Canada, ‘hate-motivated’ or ‘bias-motivated’ crimes is a criminal offence. Anti-Muslim hate in this form is prominent in Canada. In 2017, the percentage of hate crimes against Muslim Canadians went up by 151% from the previous year.
After 9/11, Muslim Canadians have unjustly and discriminatorily been at the forefront on national security issues. Notable examples include Muslim Canadian workers in Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) experiencing discriminaton and CSIS unfairly targeting Muslim students.
In March 2019, the Coalition Avenir Québec tabled a ‘secularist’ bill that targets religious freedom – notably against Muslim women – from wearing religious symbols in the public sector. Quebec should not be forcing people to choose between their religious beliefs or their profession. It is unconstitutional.
Lack of Muslim Representation
There is a lack of Muslim representation in the government. As a community, we need to provide leadership programs to our youth that will help shape and build the next generation of leaders.
Far-Right Extremism & White Supremacy
The growing threat of far-right extremism and white supremacy is real and affects Canadian Muslims. A few notable examples of far-right extremism and white supremacy include The Quebec City Mosque shooting in 2017, the cold-blooded murder of Mohamed-Aslim Zafis and the fatal London attack against a Muslim family.
Despite the majority of Canadians finding that Islamophobia is a problem in Canada, public polls and surveys suggest that a lot of Canadians still hold a negative view about Islam and Muslims. This disconnect is an issue that must be addressed and as a Muslim community should strive to change the narrative.