Canada witnesses numerous anti-Muslim attacks in recent weeks
Canada witnesses numerous anti-Muslim attacks...
Canada was considered to be the world’s most tolerant country in a comprehensive study conducted in 2015, which assessed 142 nations based on eight different indicators. However, it now finds itself in a serious downward spiral of violence against Muslims. The country has witnessed a sharp upsurge in Islamophobic attacks in the last few weeks. The country has now been rocked by cases of blatant Islamophobia, such as vandalism against places of worship, the slaughter of an entire Muslim family, and threats of violence against Muslim women.
Baitul Kareem Mosque in Cambridge, Ontario, has been vandalized in what officials are calling an act of hate. "It was an act of hate, with damages exceeding tens of thousands of dollars." Said Lal Khan Malik, national president of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama'at Canada. "Our mosques have always served as symbols of peace in the community, and it is hurtful for us to see our mosque attacked and vandalized in this fashion."
Moreover, a 40-year-old man was arrested by Hamilton police in what is being investigated as a hate crime after a Muslim mother and her daughter faced racial slurs and threats to their lives. The mother, 62, and daughter, 26, were walking through a parking lot in the Ancaster Meadowlands area around 9:30 p.m. ET on Monday. A vehicle pulled out of a parking spot, officers say, and almost hit one of them. The driver uttered threats toward the mother and daughter while using slurs targeting the Muslim community, according to police. A day later it emerged that the mother and daughter were family members of Kamal Gurgi, the Imam of Hamilton Downtown Mosque. Immediately after the incident occurred, the local Muslim community expressed fear for the safety of their masjid leader and his family.
In another “premeditated attack” in London, Ontario, a 20-year-old Canadian man has been charged with four counts of first-degree murder and one of attempted murder after driving his pickup truck into a Muslim family. Two women, a man and a girl were killed. “There is evidence that this was a planned, premeditated act, motivated by hate,” Det Supt Paul Waight of the London police department told reporters. “We believe the victims were targeted because of their Islamic faith.”
The London attack is only one in a long and growing list of anti-Muslim hate crimes across Canada and words of condemnation without concrete action do little to quell fears. After this tragic incident a new wave of chilling hate crimes is further increasing the fears of Muslims across the country. In the city of Surrey, British Columbia, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) began an investigation on Wednesday. This was after multiple hate messages had been found scrawled in various public areas, including a particular message left on a utility pole near a masjid. The despicable notes targeting Muslims were first spotted on July 5, and have begun multiplying in a number of locations since. Surrey RCMP Constable Sarbjit Sangha said that police suspect that the graffiti was drawn by either a single person or a small group of people. Sangha warned that the notes are unacceptable and pose as a challenge to the safety of the Muslim community: it stated “Islam is evil.” “Hate crimes and hate-motivated criminal activity has no place in Surrey, and our officers are working diligently to identify those responsible for these incidents.” Said the local police chief.
These recent anti-Muslim attacks and expressions of hate reflect a generally increasing level of Islamophobic sentiments. UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief Ahmed Shaheed argued in March of this year that the amount of hostile feelings against Muslims has risen to “epidemic proportions”. Ahmed Shaheed addressed the Council in Geneva, blaming a number of countries and governmental organisations around the world for the increase in anti-Muslim hatred. While not disclosing any names, Shaheed accused such nations and entities of exacerbating the issue of Islamophobia “by adopting measures which disproportionately target Muslims and define Muslims as both high risk and at risk of radicalization”.
For many Muslim immigrants, Canada has represented a beacon of safety. But in recent years some have begun to question that belief, and wonder aloud if their children will be able to practice their religion openly without fear.