Let’s Stand up to Islamophobia!
Dear colleagues and friends,
Canadians are outraged by the recent killing of four members of a family, and Muslim Canadians are particularly feeling the pain and living in a state of heightened fear. Our hearts go out to all of them, particularly our Muslim colleagues, during this difficult period.
According to police, on Sunday evening five members of the family were out for a walk when a man driving a pickup truck mounted a curb and hit them, killing Salman Afzaal, 46, his wife Madiha, 44, their 15-year-old daughter Yumna and Salman's 74-year-old mother. Fayez Afzaal, 9, survived the attack and is recovering from “serious injuries".
“We believe the victims were targeted because of their Islamic faith,” London Police Chief Stephen Williams said. “I'm also able to tell you at this time that based on information collected during the course of the investigation, we believe that this was an intentional act, and that the victims of this horrific incident were targeted.”
“To the Muslim community in London and to Muslims across the country, know that we stand with you. Islamophobia has no place in any of our communities. This hate is insidious and despicable - and it must stop,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said. “Their lives were taken in a brutal, cowardly, and brazen act of violence. This killing was no accident. This was a terrorist attack, motivated by hatred, in the heart of one of our communities.” He added that he does not see how Canadians can still say racism and hatred do not exist in this country, when there is a child in a hospital bed who just lost his closest family members.
Interim Clerk Janice Charette tweeted, “My heart goes out to the young survivor of this horrific act of hatred in London, Ont., to the Muslim communities grieving across Canada, and to all those affected. Islamophobia and other forms of hate have no place here.”
The number of police-reported hate crimes targeting Muslims in Canada more than tripled between 2012 and 2015, despite the overall number of such crimes decreasing over the same period, according to Statistics Canada data. Islamophobia has manifested itself as vandalism of mosques and physical assaults on Muslims, including violence against Muslim women wearing the hijab or niqab.
On March 23, 2017, the House of Commons passed private member's motion that sought to identify and root out hate against Muslims, calling on the federal government to:
- Condemn Islamophobia and all forms of systemic racism and religious discrimination.
- Quell the increasing public climate of hate and fear.
- Compel the Commons heritage committee to develop a government-wide approach for reducing or eliminating systemic racism and religious discrimination, including Islamophobia.
Canada launched an updated national anti-racism strategy in 2019, which lists Islamophobia as a form of discrimination. However, there are calls to include specific measures in the strategy to combat Islamophobia.
Hatred has serious consequences. Nobody should have to live in fear that their faith, ethnicity or any other identities will make them the target of violence. Let’s stand together with our Muslim colleagues and root out Islamophobia wherever it exists.
We all have an important role to play in denouncing and preventing racism and discrimination, whether online, on our streets, or in our workplaces. Please be assured that support is available, and do not hesitate to reach out to the Visible Minorities’ Network, the Employee Assistance Program, the Respect Bureau or your union representative.
Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions, suggestions or comments.
Stay safe, stay well!
President, National Consultation Team