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Islamophobia in Canada


As a proud Canadian who immigrated to Canada in 1970 with my family, I am mourning the deaths of the Afzaal family of London, Ontario. The five members of this family were mowed down on June 6th, 2021, at the hands of a terrorist who’s sole purpose was to kill them due to their Islamic faith. Four members of this family were killed while the youngest is recovering in hospital.

This terrorist attack is yet another sign to all Canadians that deeply rooted hate and bigotry against Muslims continues and, in fact, thrives in certain groups and communities. Muslims in Canada and around the world feel devastated and more isolated and misunderstood as we continue to face religious persecution. Globally, the image of Canada is one of tolerance, peace and acceptance of immigrants which has now been shaken to the core.

Where do we go from here and what can be done to stop the spread of hate and intolerance?

The federal, provincial, municipal governments and community organizations need to work hard to root out individuals, organizations and websites that support and spread hatred and Islamophobia.

Sadly, the Canadian government has done an extremely poor job of tackling hatred and Islamophobia in Canada. As hate crimes against Muslims continue to rise, stronger laws, government actions and harsher penalties must be put in place for people who commit these crimes against Muslims and people of other faiths.

It is completely fair to say that Conservative and Bloc MPs especially are accountable and responsible in part, because of their opposition to a federal non-binding motion condemning Islamophobia in 2017. These same members who are now conveying their condolences should have taken a stand against Islamophobia years ago. Prime Minister Trudeau is not innocent in this matter either. His tiptoeing around Bill 21 in Quebec for political gain lays clear that crimes of hate against Muslims in Canada are not a priority. Hollow and meaningless rhetoric by our highest officials not only open, but provide the space for certain individuals and groups to spew their hate.

We demand truly active engagement and partnership with the Muslim community. Supporting motions, enacting policies, and strengthening our communities are the only ways we can fight against this insidious hate.

Canada is impacted by every act of racism and extremism regardless of which race or religion is being targeted. Muslims don’t need lip service and photo ops from our elected officials which we have been subjected to for years. The Prime Minister’s speech regarding the deaths of the Afzaal family made no mention of any future change in policy, funding and national dialogue to combat this issue.

The Canadian education system also requires changes so that educators and students learn the facts about Islam and Muslims. Most don’t know that many inventions and discoveries made by Muslims are ingrained in everyday modern society. Students from a young age who learn about Islamic history and valuable contributions will be kinder, respectful and accepting adults.

There is still much work that is required to rid our communities and country of Islamophobia, and all Canadians have a responsibility to stand up to racism and acts of hate toward any member, community or faith group. As Muslims, we are a strong community and we will always stand together. We feel unsafe right now, but this is our country and we we will not let hate scare or intimidate us. Patriotic Canadian Muslims too have a right to a Canada that is safe and peaceful.

As a British Colombian, I ask all elected officials including Prime Minister Trudeau and Premier John Horgan, to take concrete steps in combating Islamophobia and racism in all forms.


Mahmood Awan