Wednesday, December 5, 2018 5:42:13 PM
Increase of Hate Crimes Against Muslims in Canada

The number of hate crimes targeting Muslims were up by more than 200 percent last year in Canada’s most populous province, Ontario.

Much like in the U.S., Canada has become politically more divided in recent years over issues such as migration and religion. Far-right groups have grown in number. Canada’s two most populous provinces, Quebec and Ontario, have elected right-wing populist governments, and Quebec’s government is planning to push through legislation that would bar public servants, including teachers, from wearing religious symbols such as hijabs and kippas while on duty.

“It’s fair to say that our political sphere has been a lot more polarized in recent years,” said Leila Nasr, a spokeswoman for the National Council of Canadian Muslims. She called for broad and concerted action from all communities and authorities to address the rise in hate crimes.

“All political leaders have a role to play speaking out very clearly and unequivocally about hate of all kinds,” she said, huffingtonpostreported.

Although the Canadian government hasn’t released official numbers for hate crimes in 2018, the National Council of Canadian Muslims said its tracking data on anti-Muslim hate incidents shows the upward trend continuing this year.

Statistics Canada reported that police-reported hate crime was up 47 percent in 2017. This comes after “steady but relatively small increases since 2014”.

There were 2,073 such offences in 2017, and the rise was “largely the result of an increase in hate-related property crimes, such as graffiti and vandalism”.

“Among the provinces, the greatest increase in the overall number of police-reported hate crimes was observed in Ontario, Canada’s most populous province, where incidents rose from 612 in 2016 to 1,023 in 2017 (+67%),” Statistics Canada stated.

“This increase was largely tied to more hate crimes targeting the Muslim (+207%), Black (+84%) and Jewish (+41%) populations.”

Quebec registered a 50 percent rise in hate crimes and a tripling of these offences against Muslims, Straight reported.

Hate crimes targeting people based on their religion were up by more than 80 percent across the country, including:

* a 151 percent rise against the Muslim population, from 139 to 349;

* and a 63 percent rise against the Jewish population, from 221 to 360.

The data revealed that Muslims had experienced the highest increase of hate-related crimes compared to any other minority.

The data, which has raised concern among Muslim and other advocacy groups, was released on Thursday .

“The data, while very unsettling for our communities, unfortunately does not surprise us; 2017 was an immensely difficult year for the Canadian Muslim community,” said Ihsaan Gardee, executive director of the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM).

The year began with an attack on a mosque in Quebec City in January 2017 that left six Muslim worshippers dead and many others wounded. The shooter, Alexandre Bissonnette, said he viewed far-right websites before the shooting and was angered by reports that Canada was taking in refugees and asylum seekers.

Quebec province, where that attack took place, also saw a surge in hate crimes last year, with the most substantial increase coming in the number of crimes committed against the Muslim population, Statistics Canada found, Middle East Eye reported.

For Gardee, the statistics demonstrate that Islamophobia “is getting more intense and more pervasive” in Canada.

“This new data reveals Islamophobic hate crimes peaked in February 2017, signaling that the shooting very much set the tone for the increase in hate crimes against Muslims for the remainder of the year,” said Gardee.

The Muslim director further explained that “approximately two-thirds of hate crimes are never even reported to police for a variety of reasons including fear of retaliation, shame, and fear of not being believed by police”, Press TV reported.

It is not yet known whether the upward trend in hate crimes continued through 2018, which saw such high-profile incidents as a Muslim man beaten in front of his family in a parking lot, The Guardian told.

“We’re following this closely,” Gardee said. “And we’ll continue to raise our voice for more coordinated action across the board.”

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