LONDON, ONT. — From criminal code amendments regarding hate crimes to fighting systemic Islamophobia within government and institutions — the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) has released 61 policy recommendations for all levels of government in the fight to end Islamopobia.
“It was at this very location that tens of thousands of community members gathered in collective anguish, grief, and alarm after violent Islamophobia took the lives of four members of the Afzaal family,” said Nusaiba Al-Azem, a second vice-chair of the London Muslim Mosque.
She was referring to the community rally held outside the mosque following the truck attack that killed four members of the Afzaal family, and sent a nine-year-old boy to hospital with serious injuries.
Al-Azem was taking part in a news conference with the NCCM Monday to release recommendations ahead of a National Summit on Islamophobia set for Thursday.
“As a nation we are at a historical and important crossroads, said Nawaz Tahir of the London Muslim Mosque. “If we want a country that truly values equity, inclusivity, diversity and belonging then we need to act immediately.”
Among the recommendations is a call for the federal government to establish dedicated units for prosecuting hate-motivated crimes.
There’s also a call for provinces to build anti-Islamophobia into education.
And the recommendations call for municipalities to pass street harrassment bylaws with authority to hand out tickets.
“The reality is that Canada has suffered more mass killings motivated by Islamophobia in the last five years than any other country in the G7,” said Mustafa Farooq, the CEO of the NCCM. “This cannot be allowed to continue.”
It was on the evening of June 6 when 22-year-old Nathaniel Veltman, who grew up in Strathroy but had been residing in London, allegedly perpetrated the attack on the Afzaal family. At the time police called it a hate-motivated crime.
Since then, said Farooq, there have been incidents every day across Canada in which Muslims have been victims of other types of suspected hate-related actions.
“We’ve had stabbings. We’ve had people who’ve had knives pulled on them. We’ve had people beaten. And this is on a daily- we’ve had lots vandalized. Every single day there’s a new instance of something terrible happening.”
Acting London Mayor Josh Morgan said the city is committed to fighting racism and Islamophobia.
He said in the weeks since the attack, which happened in his ward in London’s Hyde Park neighbourhood, council has been working closely with the local Muslim community on enacting change.
“But I would also say there’s an individual responsibility as well. Governments will do their part, but each and every day we as individuals need to spread love and peace and call out racism and Islamophobia whenever we see it.”
The NCCM said it will issue a document 60 days after the national summit asking governments to indicate a timeline for achieving goals.
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