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Canadian Muslim group unveils dozens of ways to combat Islamophobia

National Council of Canadian Muslims lists 61 recommendations ahead of national Islamophobia summit
Hate crimes against Muslims had spiked over the past decade, according to Statistics Canada.
Hate crimes against Muslims have spiked over the past decade, according to Statistics Canada (AFP)

A leading Canadian Muslim advocacy group has issued dozens of recommendations to tackle Islamophobia, following a sharp rise in deadly attacks and hate crimes targeting the country's Muslim community.

The National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) released a report on Monday that listed 61 recommendations, including pausing "Countering Violent Extremism" programmes and ensuring Muslim communities will not be subjected to mass surveillance.

The NCCM's recommendations also include the development of a federal anti-Islamophobia strategy that includes a clear definition of Islamophobia by the end of the year and funding to help support victims of hate-motivated crimes.

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"While we have heard many words from politicians condemning Islamophobia and standing in solidarity with Muslims in Canada, action to tackle Islamophobia has been slow and piecemeal," the group said.

"We cannot stand by and see any more lives lost. Islamophobia is lethal and we need to see action now."

The group also called for Canadian provinces to ensure their anti-racism directorates are well resourced and for municipalities to fund community-based efforts to tackle Islamophobia.

The recommendations come before a summit on Islamophobia on Thursday that Canadian parliamentarians unanimously voted to hold in the aftermath of a deadly attack in London, Ontario that killed four members of a Muslim family.

"In Canada, diversity is one of our greatest strengths, yet we continue to see hate fueled by racism and discrimination take an unacceptable toll on our communities," Bardish Chagger, Canada's minister of diversity and inclusion and youth, said in a statement this month about the summit.

"We know that this serious issue will not be solved with a top-down approach, so we must actively listen to the voices of communities directly affected by racism."

'We need to see action'

Experts in Canada told Middle East Eye last month that despite its image of being a multicultural haven, the country had witnessed decades of anti-Muslim bias from both politicians and the media.

According to Statistics Canada, hate crimes against Muslims spiked over the past decade and increased by 151 percent in 2017, compared to the previous year.

That year, a white Canadian shot and killed six worshippers at a mosque in Quebec City shortly after evening prayers. He was not charged with terrorism. 

More recently, the caretaker of a mosque in Toronto was stabbed to death just outside the centre's doors, and in the province of Alberta, multiple Muslim women were attacked between December 2020 and February 2021 in what were deemed "racially motivated" incidents.

Just this month, a mosque in Cambridge, Ontario was vandalised, while a Muslim mother and daughter in Hamilton, another city in Ontario, were threatened by a driver who hurled racial slurs at them.

"We need to see action and we need to see it now," Mustafa Farooq, chief executive officer of the NCCM, said on Monday.

"Governments attending the summit must know that we want more than their attendance. We want to see their commitment to timelines."