Canadian Muslims have doubt, cautious hope anti-Islamophobia summit will carry actual change

2021-07-22 23:56:00

Canadian Muslims expressed each doubt and cautious hope because the federal anti-Islamophobia summit is being held within the wake of a horrific car assault on a Muslim household in London, Ont.

Jasmin Zine, one of many audio system on the summit, has been researching Islamophobia for greater than 20 years and has robust doubts that the federal government will ship on tangible change.

“The proof will probably be within the pudding if they’re really going to place some significant consideration and energy behind making suggestions actionable,” Zine, a professor of sociology at Wilfrid Laurier College in Waterloo, Ont., advised in a cellphone interview.

MPs voted unanimously in favour of a movement calling for a nationwide summit a couple of days after the June 6 assault on the Afzaal household in London, Ont., which police say was motivated by anti-Muslim hatred. The one-day summit on Thursday follows the same one the federal government held on antisemitism Wednesday.

Many Muslim teams and audio system attending Thursday’s largely digital summit are placing forth their very own proposals to sort out Islamophobia and anti-Muslim hate. Earlier this week, the Nationwide Council of Canadian Muslims, which has been spearheading the summit, launched 61 coverage suggestions, which included:

  • a particular envoy for Islamophobia;
  • an investigation into nationwide safety businesses and the way they cope with white supremacist teams;
  • reviewing faculty curriculums with an anti-Islamophobic lens and offering assets for Muslim storytelling;
  • a nationwide assist fund for survivors of hate-motivated crimes;
  • and amendments to each metropolis harassment bylaws and the Prison Code to raised cope with hate crimes.

“Governments attending the summit should know that we would like greater than their attendance. We wish to see their dedication to timelines,” Mustafa Farooq, the CEO of the NCCM, mentioned throughout a press convention on Monday.

However Zine, who’s been part of varied authorities hearings and summits since 9/11, says the best way the federal government timed and arranged this summit doesn’t encourage confidence.

Jasmin Zine

She felt it was “disrespectful and unacceptable” to schedule it throughout the Muslim vacation of Eid al-Ahda, and was upset by the quick discover she and others got, with a authorities staffer solely inviting her to talk a couple of days in the past.

Regardless of many invited visitors having good intentions, she will’t assist however really feel “we’re simply there for a canine and pony present.”

She additionally mentioned insurance policies proposed on the summit may very well be placed on the backburner or probably ignored in case of a fall federal election, including that any tangible actions can even rely upon which political occasion kinds authorities.

She mentioned these potential roadblocks are unwelcome given the troubling spike in anti-Muslim assaults throughout the nation. “The Muslim neighborhood is coping with loads proper now when it comes to very tangible, existential fears for security,” Zine mentioned.

“The truth is that Canada has suffered extra mass killings motivated by Islamophobia within the final 5 years than another nation within the G7,” Farooq mentioned at Monday’s press convention. “This can’t be allowed to proceed.”


Zine and others have their doubts as a result of they are saying there hasn’t been any authorities acknowledgement that its insurance policies over time have contributed to “a local weather of Islamophobia on this nation.”

Azeezah Kanji, a neighborhood activist, authorized educational researcher and author, mentioned authorities discourse is “overlooking the central function of the Canadian state itself — notably within the context of the struggle on terror — in legitimising Islamophobia and the demonizing stereotypes of Muslims.”

Kanji additionally criticized the 2015 Harper-era “Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act,” which claimed to guard immigrant girls and women by criminalizing pressured marriages and barring migrants into Canada in the event that they observe polygamy. However critics say it unfairly perpetuated stereotypes.

Azeezah Kanji

She additionally mentioned some proposals involving policing powers on the summit may find yourself “backfiring on the very communities that they are meant to guard.”

“There’s been an emphasis on dangerously utilizing expanded counterterrorism powers and expanded policing powers within the identify of addressing Islamophobic hate,” Kanji mentioned, referencing proposed adjustments to the Prison Code to raised penalize hate-motivated assault, homicide, threats, and mischief; and provincial laws barring white supremacist teams from rallying on public land.

Kanji will as an alternative be in search of authorities commitments to finish systemic racism inside state powers themselves.

She labored with the Ottawa-based non-profit Worldwide Civil Liberties Monitoring Group to provide you with its personal proposals, a few of which overlap with NCCM’s.

These embrace the discharge and assortment of disaggregated race- and religious-based information by the federal government; and reviewing how the Canada Income Company works with nationwide safety businesses to hold out its audits, which critics say occurs with little accountability and have disproportionately affected Muslim charities.


Rania Lawendy, director of junior youth at Muslim Affiliation of Canada (MAC), shares lots of Zine’s and Kanji’s issues however mentioned she is “cautiously optimistic” in regards to the summit.

MAC is bringing forth its personal proposals, based mostly on weeks of consultations with a few of the 55,000 folks from its dozens of affiliated-community centres and Islamic colleges throughout the nation.

Rania Lawendy

“We all know that the neighborhood doesn’t have an urge for food and isn’t prepared to simply have dialogue. There must be actual motion that comes out of this summit,” Lawendy mentioned, including that Muslims communities gained’t settle for something much less.

Human rights advocate Amira Elghawaby says whereas she’s in search of lengthy and short-term targets — such because the feds offering funding to mosques and neighborhood centres for elevated safety upgrades — she’s enormously managing her expectations.

“The actual work occurs after the summit is full,” Elghawaby, a columnist and board member of the Canadian Anti-Hate Community, advised in a cellphone interview, including it’s the upcoming weeks when elected officers throughout the board put “their cash the place their mouth is” and advance suggestions.

NCCM, for its half, is pledging to concern a doc 60 days after the nationwide summit asking governments to point a timeline for attaining targets.

Amira Elghawaby

Elghawaby urged grassroots teams to not surrender on their advocacy throughout a possible federal election.

“It is as much as our communities, our allies, and common voters from throughout communities to anticipate from candidates — who’re operating for public workplace — to make commitments in direction of enhancing the experiences of minority communities within the nation.”

Kanji, who’s additionally director of programming on the Muslim Toronto-based Noor Cultural Centre, was blunt about her expectations.

“I am by no means optimistic in regards to the willingness or the capability of the federal government to provoke change,” she mentioned.

“However the place my optimism does lie is with Muslim communities and allyships who hopefully are actually extra galvanized across the concern of Islamophobia and can proceed to press for the deep seated adjustments needed.”

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