Islamophobia in Canada

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Islamophobia in Canada refers to set of discourses, behaviours and structures which express feelings of anxiety, fear, hostility and rejection towards Islam and/or Muslims in Canada.[1]

Particularly since the September 11, 2001, attacks in the United States, a variety of surveys and polls as well as reported incidents have consistently given credence to the existence of Islamophobia in Canada.[2][3][4]

Islamophobia has manifested itself as vandalism of mosques, and physical assaults on Muslims, including violence against Muslim women wearing the hijab or niqab. In January 2017, six Muslims were killed in a shooting at a Quebec city mosque. The number of Islamophobic incidents have significantly increased in the last two years.[5] Islamophobia has been condemned by Canadian governments on the federal, provincial and municipal level.

The Canadian media have played a mixed role in their coverage of Islamophobia, and have been described as having perpetuated it and/or countered it for Canadian audiences.[6][7] Canada’s public education system has also been scrutinized for its role as the site of Islamophobic incidents and of the development of Islamophobic attitudes in youth.[8][9]

Definition[edit]

Islamophobia is a neologism formed by combining Islam and the suffix -phobia, implying the basic meaning of Islamophobia to be "fear of Islam" or "aversion to Islam". The definition of the term can vary. The Ontario Human Rights Commission gives an example definition of Islamophobia: "stereotypes, bias or acts of hostility towards individual Muslims or followers of Islam in general."[10] The Oxford English Dictionary defines Islamophobia as "intense dislike or fear of Islam, esp. as a political force; hostility or prejudice towards Muslims". The Oxford dictionary pinpoints the term's first known usage in English to 1923,[11] although the historical origin of the term is contested. This definition reflects the view that hostility toward Islam as a religion can potentially overlap with the more xenophobic and racialized forms of hostility toward Muslims as a community or people.[10]

In 1996, the Runnymede Trust in the United Kingdom established the Commission on British Muslims and Islamophobia. In Islamophobia: A Challenge for Us All, a 1997 report of the Commission's findings, Islamophobia was defined as "an outlook or world-view involving an unfounded dread and dislike of Muslims, which results in practices of exclusion and discrimination."[12] Islamophobia: A Challenge for Us All outlined the following eight recurring views of Islam that constitute Islamophobia:[10]

(1) seeing Islam "as a monolithic bloc, static and unresponsive to change";

(2) seeing Islam "as separate and ‘other’" without "values in common with other cultures", being neither affected by them nor having any influence on them;

(3) seeing Islam as "inferior to the West", more specifically, "as barbaric, irrational, primitive and sexist";

(4) seeing Islam "as violent, aggressive, threatening, supportive of terrorism and engaged in a ‘clash of civilisations’";

(5) seeing Islam "as a political ideology used for political or military advantage";

(6) "reject[ing] out of hand" criticisms made of the West by Islam;

(7) using "hostility towards Islam... to justify discriminatory practices towards Muslims and exclusion of Muslims from mainstream society";

(8) seeing anti-Muslim hostility "as natural or normal".

— Ontario Human Rights Commission, Human Rights and Creed: Research and Consultation Report, p. 30

After analyzing the nuances in many definitions of Islamophobia, Robin Richardson, a former director of the Runnymede Trust and the editor of Islamophobia: A Challenge for Us All, concludes that the term can be acceptably defined as "a shorthand term referring to a multifaceted mix of discourse, behaviour and structures which express and perpetuate feelings of anxiety, fear, hostility and rejection towards Muslims, particularly but not only in countries where people of Muslim heritage live as minorities."[13]

Alternative terms[edit]

Academics have often discussed weakness of using the term "Islamophobia" and have suggested alternatives.[14] Robin Richardson has discussed several disadvantages of using the term "Islamophobia". These include the implication that Islamophobia is merely a mental illness which affects only very small segments of society, the implied separation of religion from other relevant factors such as skin color, concerns about terrorism, and immigration, and the implied overlap between those who are hostile to religion in general and those are hostile to Islam or Muslims in particular.[15] Fred Halliday prefers the term "anti-Muslimism" to "Islamophobia". He argues that Islamophobia is usually directed at individual Muslims (as opposed to Islam as a whole), that secular Muslims are often targets of prejudice, and that there is no singular Islam as the religion varies greatly. Nevertheless Halliday says that the phenomenon of Islamophobia is "undoubtedly true".[16] An argument has also been made for the introduction of the term "Islamoprejudice", and research suggests that it would effectively allow for differentiation between prejudiced attitudes toward Islam and Muslims and secular criticism of Islam.[14]

History[edit]

Although Canadian Islamophobia had been documented in the 20th century, it rapidly increased in the 21st century, corresponding to increases in conflict within the Middle East and Muslim immigration.[17] The majority of documented cases have occurred during conflict between the U.S. and elements of the Muslim world. Such incidents also spike after incidents of Islamic terrorism in North America or other parts of the western world.

Canadians with Middle Eastern backgrounds have been victimized by Islamophobia in the context of the September 11 attacks and the resulting War on Terrorism. Islamophobia has often played on the theme of deeming Muslims as irrational and violent, and Islam as bent upon global domination.[18] There was a significant spike in hate crimes against Muslims in Toronto, in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. The types of incidents included physical threats and destruction of property.[19]

In many cases, non-Muslims and non-Muslim buildings are targeted by Islamophobes due to mistaken identity.[20]

Hate crimes[edit]

NCCM's database of hate crimes against Muslims in Canada[21]
Year Physical assaults Attacks on property (including mosques)
2012
1
8
2013
6
3
2014
5
15
2015
9
20

Note: NCCM only documents a fraction of anti-Muslim hate crimes
and their database may differ from those of various police forces across Canada.

Police forces from across Canada have reported that Muslims are the second most targeted religious group, after Jews. And while hate crimes against all religious groups (including Jews) have decreased, hate crimes against Muslims have increased following 9/11.[22][4] In 2012, police forces from across Canada recorded 45 hate crimes against Muslims that were deemed to be "religiously motivated". By 2014, this number had more than doubled to 99.[4]

In 2015, the city of Toronto reported a similar trend: hate crimes in general decreased by 8.2%, but hate crimes against Muslims had increased.[23] Police hypothesized the spike could be due to the Paris attacks or anger over refugees. Muslims faced the third highest level of hate crimes in Toronto, after Jews and the LGBTQ community.[23]

Assaults[edit]

Many Islamophobic incidents have involved violent attacks on Muslims, sometimes resulting in physical injuries that require hospitalization. Many of the incidents revolve around Muslim women who wear the hijab or niqab.

On September 26, 2014, six Muslim students at Queen's University were attacked by four men, one of whom wielded a baseball bat and who yelled various racial epithet. One of the students suffered minor physical injuries. The police arrested two men in connection to the attack and charged them with assault.[24][25]

In May 2016, an Iranian student at Western University was physically attacked and called an "Arab"; the student suffered a concussion as a result of the attack. The attackers also uttered threats against his girlfriend.[26] The mayor of London said the attack was a "wake-up call" and that "Islamophobia had no place in Canada".[27]

Violence against women[edit]

Many Muslim women have been subjected to acts of violence, particularly those who are visibly Muslim due to them wearing the hijab or niqab.

In 2011, a Muslim woman wearing the niqab was with her children when she was attacked at a Mississauga mall; the attacker screamed at her and pulled off her veil.[28] After the court was shown mall security footage of the assault, the attacker pleaded guilty to assault.[29] The incident was deemed Islamophobic by the Ontario Human Rights Commission.[30]

In the aftermath of the 2013 Quebec Charter of Values, many Muslim women wearing the headscarf were attacked. On September 17, a 17-year old Muslim girl was attacked in St. Catharines. She was punched in the nose, that left her bleeding and her headscarf was pulled off.[31] In November, a woman wearing the hijab in Montreal was attacked by two men; one of them spat on her, while the other pulled off her headscarf.[32] In December, a woman wearing a hijab was attacked when another woman tried to forcibly remove her headscarf from her head.[33][34]

In September 2015, a pregnant woman wearing the hijab was attacked by teenagers in Toronto, when they tried to pull off her hearscarf, causing her to fall. Quebec's National Assembly responded by passing a unanimous resolution against Islamophobia.[35]

Attacks on mosques[edit]

Mosques in Canada have been the target of many Islamophobic attacks. The types of attacks usually consist of breaking windows and doors or spray painting hateful messages onto the mosque.[21]

On December 31, 2013, a bomb threat was made against a Vancouver mosque and the building was evacuated by the RCMP.[36][34] On November 26, 2014, a bomb threat was made against a Montreal mosque and the police found a suspicious package. 12 buildings in the area were evacuated until the police neutralized the package.[37]

On May 20, 2014, a man tried to throw a Molotov cocktail through the window of a mosque in Montreal, but was stopped by the police. The police had been watching the mosque because it had already been the target of multiple attacks.[38][25]

On November 14, 2015, a day after the Paris attacks, the only mosque in Peterborough, Ontario was set on fire.[39] Police deemed the arson a hate crime.[40]

Quebec City mosque shooting[edit]

In January 2017, a gunman opened fire upon worshipers in the Islamic Cultural Center of Quebec, killing 6 and wounding 19 others. The media reported that the attacker was a university student who had right-wing and anti-Muslim political tendencies. Many Muslims and non-Muslims blamed the attack on the rise in Islamophobic rhetoric in Canada.[41][42]

Face cover ban controversy[edit]

Bill 94 (Quebec)[edit]

In 2010, the Liberal government of Jean Charest introduced Bill 94, which would have required people to uncover their faces to identify themselves before receiving any government services.[43] According to a 2010 Angus Reid Public Opinion poll, the bill was supported by 95% of Quebecers at the time.[44] The legislation ultimately failed to pass when the Liberals were defeated in the 2012 election.[45][43]

Quebec Charter of Values (Quebec)[edit]

In 2013, the Parti Québécois government of Pauline Marois introduced a much stricter bill known as the Quebec Charter of Values, which would have banned public servants from wearing any "conspicuous" religious symbols including turbans, kippas, and hijabs. The Charter was widely denounced for targeting Muslim women, and it failed to become law before another election.[43]

Bill 62 (Quebec)[edit]

On October 18, 2017, the National Assembly of Quebec successfully passed legislation titled "Bill 62 (fr)."[46] The law will take effect on 1 July 2018.[47] According to the Associated Press, the law "bans the wearing of face coverings for people giving or receiving a service from the state" and "offers a framework outlining how authorities should grant accommodation requests based on religious beliefs."[48] In effect, this prohibits Muslim women who wear face veils from receiving or giving public services, including riding public transportation.[49] The law also prohibits public workers like doctors and teachers from covering their faces at work.[50] The bill passed 65-51 with every MP in favor of the law being a member of the Quebec Liberal Party.[50] Quebec's two main opposition parties, the Parti Québécois and Coalition Avenir Québec, opposed the bill, arguing it didn't go far enough in restricting the presence of conspicuous symbols of all religions in the public sphere.[48] Stéphanie Vallée, Quebec’s minister of justice, sponsored the bill and said it would foster social cohesion.[50] Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard supported the law, saying "We are in a free and democratic society. You speak to me, I should see your face, and you should see mine. It's as simple as that."[47]

Proponents of the law argue it ensures state neutrality,[51] but critics of the law argue it is unfairly directed at Muslim women who wear niqabs or burqas.[52] Face coverings in Canada are rare, with about 3% of Muslim women wearing some type of face veil nationwide.[53] Shaheen Ashraf, a board member of Canadian Council of Muslim Women said Muslim women "are feeling targeted" by the law. She added, "The message they're sending to those women is that you stay home and don't come out of your house because they are choosing to cover their faces and they cannot board a bus or use any public transportation or receive any services."[49] Ihsaan Gardee, the executive director of the National Council of Canadian Muslims said the legislation is "an unjustified infringement of religious freedoms."[54] The NCCM also claimed the legislation violates the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and is planning on challenging it in court.[49] Fo Niemi of the Center for Research-Action on Race Relations said the law could be challenged at the United Nations as "a violation of certain rights protected by the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women."[55] Jagmeet Singh, leader of the New Democratic Party, stated he was "completely opposed" to the new law.[48] Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre accused the provincial government of overstepping its jurisdiction and Montreal-based civil rights lawyer Julius Grey called Bill 62 a "terrible law."[51] When asked by reporters, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said, "I don’t think it’s the government’s business to tell a woman what she should or shouldn’t be wearing."[56]

With regards to public opinion, an October 27 Ipsos poll found that 76% of Quebecers backed Bill 62, with 24% opposing it. The same survey found the 68% of Canadians in general supported a law similar to Bill 62 in their part of Canada.[57] An October 27 Angus Reid Institute poll found that 70% Canadians outside of Quebec supported "legislation similar to Bill 62" where they lived in the country, with 30% opposing it.[58]

However, a judge ruled that the face-covering ban cannot enter into force pending judicial review, due to irreparable harm it will cause Muslim women. For the second time since December 2017 a Quebec judge suspended that section of the law, challenged in court by the National Council of Canadian Muslims and by the Canadian Civil Liberties Association. In the courts' judgement, that law violates the freedoms guaranteed by the Quebec and Canadian charters of human rights and freedoms.[59]

Public perceptions[edit]

Especially since 9/11 there has been an upsurge in attention paid to religious diversity by researchers, and therefore this is a developing field of research.[60]

Of Muslims[edit]

A 2016 FORUM poll found that 28% of Canadians disliked Muslims, compared to 16% who disliked First Nations (the next most disliked group). Muslims were primarily disliked in Quebec, where Jews were also disliked. Muslims were also disliked by Conservatives, who happened to have higher levels of religious bias than Liberals or the New democrats.[61] A 2015 Angus Reid poll found that 44% of Canadians disliked Muslims, compared to 35% who disliked Sikhs (the next most disliked religion). Dislike of Muslims was particularly higher in Quebec, where Jews and Sikhs were also disliked.[62]

Anti-Muslim sentiment in Canada is reportedly increasing. Angus Reid found an increase between 2009 and 2013.[31] Canadian Race Relations Foundation documented a worsening of public opinion between 2012 and 2016.[63] The Association for Canadian Studies points out that as public opinion of Muslims has gotten worse, opinions regarding groups like Asians have improved. It is hypothesized that this could be "a displacement of negative sentiment" being transferred onto the Muslim population.[63]

Statistics suggest that Islamophobia is particularly prevalent in Quebec. An Angus Reid poll in 2009 found that 68% of Quebecers surveyed held an unfavourable view of Islam. This had risen just slightly in 2013 to 69%. However, the same poll showed that the increase of Islamophobic attitudes in the rest of Canada was greater than it was in Quebec, rising from 46% in 2009 to 54% in 2013.[64]

In July 2016, a survey by the polling firm MARU/VCR&C reported that only a third of Ontarians had a positive impression of Islam, and more than half believed that mainstream Islamic teachings promote violence. Three-quarters said that Muslim immigrants have fundamentally different values.[65] This survey was conducted following the arrival of nearly 12,000 Syrian refugees to Ontario in the first half of 2016. The survey also found that opposition to the arrival of Syrian refugees was higher among those who had negative views of Islam.[65]

A 2015 survey conducted in Quebec found that 49% of respondents would be bothered if they received services from someone wearing the headscarf; compared to 31% who were bothered by the Sikh turban, 25% who were bothered by the kippa, and 6% who were bothered by the cross.[66]

Of discrimination against Muslims[edit]

The 2003 Ethnic Diversity Survey conducted by Statistics Canada found that only 0.54% of Muslims reported being a victim of a hate crime based on religion between 1998 and 2003.[2] A 2016 survey found that 35% of Muslims in Canada reported experiencing discrimination.[67]

In 2006, an Environics poll reported that 34% Canadians believed that Muslims "often" experience discrimination in Canada; that number increased to 44% in 2010. In both years, Muslims and Aboriginal Peoples were seen as the two groups most likely to experience discrimination.[68] A 2011 Ipsos Reid poll reported that 60% of Canadians felt that discrimination against Muslims increased after the 9/11 attacks.[69]

In 2011, Ipsos Reid asked Canadians whether Muslims in Canada should receive the same treatment as any other Canadian. 81% of respondents said Muslims should receive the same treatment, 15% said Muslims ought to be treated differently. The percentage of respondents who believed in treating Muslims differently was highest in Alberta (31%), followed by Quebec (21%).[69]

Role of the media[edit]

The Canadian media have been criticized for their role in perpetrating Islamophobia, both generally and in their news coverage of specific events. Canadian professor of journalism Karim H. Karim asserts that in the post-9/11 era an "Islamic peril" has replaced the "Soviet threat" of the Cold War years in Canada.[6] After comparing Canadian mainstream media coverage of religious minority communities in Canada, Mahmoud Eid concludes that the Canadian media commonly apply the frames of dehumanization, extremism, fanaticism, inequality and Islamophobia to Muslims.[70] The stereotypes of Muslims, Arabs and Middle Easterners are: terrorists, savage, a fifth column.[71][72] These stereotypes are then said to fuel suspicion of Muslims in general, which then results in hate crimes against them.[73][74] In fact, a study found a similarity between media myths on Muslims and the hate-text of many documented anti-Muslim incidents.[73]

Nevertheless, Barbara Perry argues that Canadian media is more balanced and objective in its coverage of Muslims than that of UK, US and Australia. She cited the case of the 2006 "Toronto 18" terrorist plot, where outlets like Toronto Star recognized that the suspects were at the fringe of the Muslim community and gave coverage to Muslim leaders, allowing them to present a more peaceful side of Islam.[72]

Denise Helly of Institut national de la recherche scientifique writes that the media often falsely gives an impression that "Muslims are incessantly demanding recognition of special practices," by giving widespread coverage to trivial incidents. She cites examples such as the debate on the skirt length of a female employee at Pearson airport, or the wearing of a headscarf on a soccer team in Edmonton.[75]

Toronto Star's publisher, John Cruickshank, claimed that "a big segment of the Canadian media has been peddling ‘flat-out racism and bigotry’ against Canadian Muslims."[76]

The now-defunct Canadian Islamic Congress (CIC) started to monitor Canadian media coverage for Islamophobic sentiment in 1998.[77] The CIC opposed the use of expressions such as "Muslim militants" and "Islamic insurgency" by arguing that no religion endorses terrorism or militancy.[77]

Jonathan Kay of the National Post argued that in recent years both Stephen Harper's Conservative federal government and Pauline Marois' Parti Québécois provincial government have been voted out of office due to "Islamophobic fearmongering" in their campaigns, and that the Canadian media played a key role in denouncing their Islamophobic messages to Canadians.[78]

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's internationally-acclaimed television sitcom Little Mosque on the Prairie, which aired from 2007 to 2012, has been described as having "opened up a public space for Muslim Canadians to express their traditions, rituals, culture, and religion on primetime Canadian television."[79] However, others have argued that the underlying assumptions of the show continue to re-affirm, rather than challenge, certain Canadian hegemonic values and expectations about Muslims.[80]

Specific outlets[edit]

In the past, certain media outlets have been criticized for their perceived bias in coverage of Muslims. Likewise, certain media outlets have been praised for covering Islam and Muslims in a balanced way.

In 1998, the Canadian Islamic Congress (CIC) singled out the newspaper National Post as a leading consistently Islamophobic media outlet in Canada.[77] A 2006 study at the University of Alberta reported that during 2006 federal election, 42% of National Post’s election-time articles associated Islam and Muslims with terrorism, compared to 9% of stories in the Globe and Mail and 14% of stories in the Toronto Star.[81] National Post's Jonathan Kay has argued that the media are fascinated with the subject of terrorism because that is what their audience, the Canadian public, are interested in.[78] Kay also argues that Islam is conflated with terrorism in the media only because prominent terrorist groups consistently commit atrocities in the name of Islam, which the media is obliged to report as such.[78]

In 2016, Toronto Star's former columnist Haroon Siddiqui accused the National Post and the Postmedia group of newspapers of perpetuating Islamophobia.[76]

In 2007, the CIC filed complaints with the Canadian Human Rights Commission, Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) and British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal (BCHRT) against Maclean's Magazine, accusing the magazine of publishing 18 Islamophobic articles between 2005 and 2007, including a derogatory article titled "The Future of Islam" by Mark Steyn.[82][83][84] The Canadian Human Rights Commission dismissed the CIC’s complaint.[85] BCHRT found that while the article contained "factual inaccuracies" and may use exaggeration to cause the reader to fear Muslims, it did not violate anti-hate laws. BCHRT argued that "fear is not synonymous with hatred and contempt."[86] OHRC described Maclean's articles as xenophobic, Islamophobic and promoting prejudice; however, the Commission maintained that it did not have the jurisdiction to actually hear the complaint.[87] (For further details, see: Human rights complaints against Maclean's magazine)

The CIC has praised the Toronto Star and La Press for their sympathetic and comprehensive coverage of the .[7] A 2005 survey of 120 Canadian Muslims showed that 66% of respondents trusted the Toronto Star as their source for information, compared to 12% who trusted The Globe and Mail and 4% who trusted the National Post.[88]

Role of education[edit]

Public schools[edit]

The role of public education in promoting or denouncing Islamophobia has been studied. There have been many reported incidents at public schools in Canada that have been described as Islamophobic. The interactions of non-Muslim students, teachers and administrators have been described by one antiracist and gender-equity practitioner at a Canadian school board as based on stereotypes that are "reminiscent of the long-gone colonial era."[8] Research also suggests that teachers’ low expectations racial and ethnic minoritized youth can lead to negative evaluation and biased assessments, and this is compounded by Islamophobic attitudes. One student, for example, believes that in high school she was often treated according to the misconception that education is not valued for Muslim women, and therefore her educational aspirations were not taken very seriously by the school’s guidance counsellors.[89] Hijab-wearing Muslim girls in elementary school have also reported being asked questions such as "Do you have some kind of head injury?" or "Are you bald?" by teachers.[90]

In August 2016, the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) in partnership with other Muslim organizations as well as the Canadian Human Rights Commission published a guidebook for educators on how they can fight Islamophobia and its effect on Muslim children in Canadian classrooms.[91] The creation of the guide was inspired in part by the case of an Ontario high school teacher who was fired in 2015 after it was discovered that he had tweeted racist and Islamophobic messages on Twitter.[9] In December 2016, the York Region District School Board (YRDSB) in Ontario elected a new chair shortly after the NCCM (in conjunction with other community groups) filed a human rights complaint following a series of Facebook posts were published by the principal of a public school.[92]

Universities[edit]

Islamophobic attitudes and incidents have also been reported on Canadian university campuses. In August 2015, a report was published in Convergence, an undergraduate community research journal, in which Muslim students at McGill and Concordia were surveyed. The surveys revealed that 36.6% of respondents said that they may have been discriminated against at their place of education because of their religion, while 12.2% were certain that they had experienced this.[93] In 2013, a McGill professor was found guilty by the McGill Committee on Student Grievances of having issued death threats and of engaging in "religious, cultural and personal offences" toward a Muslim graduate student.[93] In December 2016, the University of Toronto’s St. Michael’s College Student Union’s vice-president resigned from his position after a video displaying what was deemed to be Islamophobic conduct at an SMCSU event, which he had posted to social media, became viral.[94]

Role of politicians[edit]

In 2007, the Quebec town of Hérouxville adopted an "immigrant code of conduct", even though the town had no immigrants. The code warned the town's non-existent immigrant population against stoning women and told them about the importance of Christmas trees.[95] The code was widely considered Islamophobic and xenophobic, and caught the attention of media around the world.[95][96] The author of the code, André Drouin, later called for all mosques in Canada to be temporarily shut down.[97]

In 2013, the Parti Québécois (PQ) proposed a "Charter of Quebec values" to ban certain religious symbols in the workplace. The announcement was followed by a string of attacks against Muslims, particularly Muslim women who wear the hijab.[33] Many blamed the attacks on the divisive rhetoric surrounding the debate, and accused the PQ of exploiting the debate for political gain.[32]

In 2015, then Prime Minister Stephen Harper, while answering questions about terrorism suspects, said "it doesn't matter what the age of the person is, or whether they're in a basement, or whether they're in a mosque or somewhere else." The remarks were seen as casting mosques as "venues of terrorism", by the NCCM, who expressed concerns about increased attacks on mosques as a result of this perception.[98] The leader of the Opposition said the remarks were Islamophobic, and noted that mosques actually work closely with security agencies in preventing radicalization.[98] In response, Harper released a statement recognizing the Muslim community's efforts in fighting terror.[99]

Implications on Muslim Canadians[edit]

The implications of bill 62 not only affected Quebec residents as a whole, but also additionally created a contradictory visualization of Canada. The nation often is considered to be a “multicultural mosaic”, however, the implementation of bill 62 left Canadians questioning this term.[100]One Canadian Citizen added, “"Just as every woman has the right to reveal herself, the woman next to her has the right to conceal herself…If the government is going to impact our basic rights, I don't want to be a part of it."[101]

The bill contains many implications for Muslim women, as it affects all aspects of private services, such as, schooling, transportation and medical.[102] Canadian Muslim women who are looking to further their education have publicly stated that bill 62, is not only a oppressive law on their education, but also a driving force behind considering other schools.[103] Ultimately, the future of Canada as a whole appears rather murky as it is estimated that 68% of Canadians are in favor of this ban in their own province. Thus leaving Muslim women feeling as though they are being restricted from obtaining a higher education.[104]

Initially, the Canadians of Somali descent experienced race-based discrimination (as they were black) but many were still able to access higher education. Starting in 2011, the Harper government framed Somalis as "Muslims" and thus they were treated as potential terrorists by Conservative ministers and the security services under their direction. Unlike the Maher Arar case, the mistreatment of Somali Canadians has received little coverage.[20]

Responses[edit]

Many Canadians have demonstrated against Islamophobia, often in the aftermath of Islamophobic incidents.

On Nov 21, 2015, hundreds of Torontonians protested after a string of Islamophobic incidents.[105]

In 2016, the Islamophobia hotline was launched by the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association and 8 other groups to provide free legal assistance to victims of Islamophobia.[106]

Government[edit]

Federal[edit]

On October 26, 2016, the Parliament of Canada passed a motion to condemn "all forms of Islamophobia". When the motion was first proposed, on October 6, it was opposed by some Conservative MPs. Many Canadian Muslims expressed disappointment at Conservative opposition.[107] However, on October 26, when the motion was re-introduced, it passed unanimously with all parties in favor.[108][109]

Liberal MP Iqra Khalid proposed Motion 103 in December 2016, a non-binding motion to "condemn Islamophobia and all forms of systemic racism and religious discrimination". It was supported by MPs from the Liberals, NDP, and the Green Party but opposed by many of the Opposition Conservative MPs.[110] The motion passed by a vote of 201–91 on March 23, 2017.[111]

As of November 11th, 2017, the courts challenged Bill-62 on the grounds that it endorses violating the rights of women.[112] The discrepancy between the Canadian Government, Quebec legislation, and citizens revolves around the specifics that state regulatory laws within the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Quebec Government has argued that the bill is not promoting racism, or targeting religions, but rather focused on protection of all citizens within the province. Contrarily, groups filed lawsuits against the bill stating that it is “unconstitutional and discriminates against an already marginalized population”.[113]

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau publicly stated that the Canadian Government is looking into the issue, and the potential corresponding actions that it could take moving forward.[114] Trudeau stated that of the possibilities, the Federal Government could intervene, or it may align itself with advocacy or legal groups that are already involved.

Addressing the core issue of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms Trudeau stated that “I think I’ve been very clear that I don’t think a government should be legislating what a woman should or shouldn’t be wearing. I don’t think that’s something that is right for Canada, I will always defend the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and as for next steps, we’re watching the situation as it unfolds and reflecting on what those steps might or could be”.[115] Prime Minister Trudeau’s comments displayed optimism for Canadian women, as there are currently 12 countries globally besides Canada that have implemented a partial or full face ban.[116]

Provincial[edit]

On October 1, 2015, the National Assembly of Quebec unanimously adopted a motion that condemned Islamophobia and incitement of hatred and violence toward Muslim Quebecers, in particular Syrian refugees.[117]

On February 23, 2017, the Legislative Assembly of Ontario unanimously passed a motion condemning all forms of Islamophobia, along with "all forms of hatred, hostility, prejudice, racism and intolerance." The motion was supported by all parties, including the center-right Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario.[118]

On May 16th, 2017 Justice Minister Stephanie Vallee supported the bill as she stated, “It’s a bill about the way public services are rendered between two individuals”. This comment came at the ire of Canadian citizens, as they felt it was a not-so subtle attempt made by the Quebec government, the “Act to foster adherence to State religious neutrality”.[119]

Municipal[edit]

In July, 2016, six Canadian cities signed the "Charter for Inclusive Communities", a statement against Islamophobia. The cities were: Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Calgary, Windsor and London.[120]

Critical[edit]

Islamophobia has been described by the Council for Muslims Facing Tomorrow (MFT), a self-proclaimed reformist Muslim organization based in Canada, as "a contrived phrase" used by certain Muslims to pander to a self-victimizing ideology and to stifle debate and conversation.[121]

Canadian author and advocate for Islamic reform, Irshad Manji, has said that the defensiveness displayed by Muslims that causes a critic of Islam or Muslims to quickly be labeled an Islamophobe or accused of collusion with Islamophobes sends a message to actual Islamophobes that Muslims have something to hide and that they are reactionary in nature, implying that such questionable accusations of Islamophobia actually end up perpetuating Islamophobia.[122]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Richardson, Robin (2012). "Islamophobia or anti-Muslim racism – or what? – concepts and terms revisited" (PDF): 7. Retrieved 10 December 2016. 
  2. ^ a b Ontario Human Rights Commission. "Underlying trends in research and consultation: Increase of religion-based hate crime". Ontario Human Rights Commission. Retrieved 10 December 2016. 
  3. ^ Citizenship and Immigration Canada. "A literature review of Public Opinion Research on Canadian attitudes towards multiculturalism and immigration, 2006-2009". Government of Canada. Retrieved 10 December 2016. 
  4. ^ a b c Paperny, Anna (13 April 2016). "Hate crimes against Muslim-Canadians more than doubled in 3 years". Global News. Retrieved 10 December 2016. 
  5. ^ "Canadians need to talk about racism and Islamophobia, legal advocacy groups say". National Observer. January 31, 2017. 
  6. ^ a b Karim, Karim (2003). Islamic Peril: Media and Global Violence. Montreal: Black Rose Books. p. 10. 
  7. ^ a b Poynting, Scott; Perry, Barbara (2007). "Climates of Hate: Media and State Inspired Victimisation of Muslims in Canada and Australia since 9/11". Current Issues in Criminal Justice. 19 (2): 160. 
  8. ^ a b Zine, Jasmin (2001). "Muslim Youth in Canadian Schools: Education and the Politics of Religious Identity". Anthropology and Education Quarterly. 32 (4): 409. 
  9. ^ a b Bateman, David (9 September 2015). "High school teacher fired after investigation into 'racist' tweets". Toronto Star. Retrieved 10 December 2016. 
  10. ^ a b c Ontario Human Rights Commission. Human Rights and Creed: Research and Consultation Report (PDF). Toronto: Ontario Human Rights Commission. p. 29. 
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