A Muslim family was killed in Canada just 3 months ago. So why are leaders not talking about Islamophobia?

So many issues are not being talked about but at least some party platforms include commitments with respect to anti-racism and related policies:

Just weeks after four members of a Muslim family were killed in what police have called act of terror, Aalia Bhalloo stood shaking in the middle of a Toronto-area grocery store, stunned at the words of a shopper who called her “disgusting.”

“Making your daughter wear that thing on her head is child abuse,” the woman told Bhalloo, referring to her 11-year-old’s headscarf. 

In her 36 years in Canada where she was born and raised, never before had Bhalloo experienced outright hate.

Her first instinct: to call the police.

“How would I know that those people wouldn’t be waiting for me outside in their car and the moment I stepped outside they run me over?” Bhalloo said. In the wake of the London attack, the fear was hardly far-fetched. 

Yet, as Canada enters the final week of an election only months after politicians of all stripes took to a stage in London in a show of solidarity, racism and anti-Muslim hate in particular have barely registered on the campaign trail. 

That’s raising concerns about just how much substance was behind their words in a year marked by a so-called racial reckoning sparked by the murder of George Floyd, the discovery of hundreds of unmarked graves at former residential schools, an uptick in anti-Asian racism amid the pandemic, and the deadliest attack on Muslims in the country since six worshippers were killed at a Quebec City mosque in 2017.

Leaders can’t be allowed to be push hate to ‘backburner’

“We can’t have politicians be allowed to get away with pushing this issue to the backburner,” Fareed Khan, founder of Canadians United Against Hate told CBC News.

“I think it’s up to Canadians — not just racialized Canadians but also the allies who have come out in the tens of thousands this year to support Black Canadians and Indigenous Canadians and Muslim Canadians — to say, ‘No we can be better than this’ and we’re not going to let you get away with being silent on this issue.”

Over the last decade, Canada has seen police-reported hate crimes against Muslims rise from 45 in 2012 to 181 in 2018. 

That number fell to 82 in 2020, though the past 12 months have seen profound examples of violence against Muslims, including the London attack, the fatal stabbing of Mohamed Aslim Zafis outside a Toronto-area mosque by a man with alleged links to neo-Nazi ideology, as well as multiple hate-motivated attacks on Black and racialized women in the Edmonton area.

As recently noted by the National Council of Canadian Muslims, more Muslims have been killed in targeted hate-attacks in Canada than any other G-7 country in the past five years. 

No major party committing to fight Bill 21

That’s something NCCM’s CEO Mustafa Farooq says “is absolutely something that should be addressed by every federal leader … If they’re not willing to address it, I think that tells you a lot about where their priorities lie.”

The Liberals have adopted some of the group’s 61 recent recommendations to counter Islamophobia in their campaign platform, including a $10-million annual investment for a national support fund for survivors of hate-motivated crimes. They have also committed to a national action plan for combating hate and creating new legislation to combat the spread of online hate.

The Conservatives promise to double the funding for the federal security infrastructure program and make it easier for religious institutions to apply to protect themselves against hate-motivated crime, though Farooq points out nowhere in their platform are the words Islamophobia or racism mentioned. 

Meanwhile, he says, the NDP is the only party to explicitly endorse an office for a special envoy on Islamophobia and has also promised online measure to counter hate. 

Still, says Farooq, none of the federal leaders have committed to intervening to fight Quebec’s Bill 21 in court — which bans some civil servants, including teachers, police officers and government lawyers, from wearing religious symbols at work. Instead, the leaders of the Liberals, Conservatives and Bloc Québécois all called the English-language debate question on Quebec’s secularism law offensive and unfair. 

That’s something Toronto imam Hamid Slimi believes needs to change.

“I believe governments should never interfere in people’s personal decisions when it comes to what they want to wear, what they believe, how they want to practise their religion.”

Issues like that have been drowned out amid the din of the campaign, he says.

“It’s like you’re in a market. There’s so much noise, everybody’s selling this and selling that and you can’t focus.”

Silence on hate makes it more ‘acceptable’

But for all the noise, for Bhalloo it’s the silence from leaders about the subject that’s most worrying.

“It does absolutely worry me for myself, but more importantly, my children who are growing up in this society that will have to face Islamophobic types of events or incidents or hate incidents, such as my daughter who had to face it as well,” she said.

“The silence of it just makes it that much more socially acceptable.”

As many took advantage of advance polls over the weekend, the world also marked 20 years since 9/11, when al -Qaeda hijackers attacked New York and Washington, killing nearly 3,000 including 24 Canadians. 

That date isn’t without significance in a year that’s seen such profound examples of anti-Muslim hate, says Khan.

“What we’re not remembering was the Islamophobia that it fuelled, the national security policies that are still in place that affect primarily Muslims. It doesn’t register on people that that singular attack has changed our society and has engendered racism, has fed white supremacy and Islamophobia,” he said. 

‘The face of Canada is changing’

Sabreena Ghaffar-Siddiqui, a professor of sociology and criminology at Sheridan College, agrees. 

“9/11 is connected to Islamophobia because that essentially became the birth of Islamophobia as we know it today. The ‘war on terror’ is the foundation on which today’s Islamophobia rests.”

Indeed, the Canadian Islamic Congress reported more than 170 anti-Muslim hate crimes in 2002, up from just 11 in 2000. 

And to anyone who believes problems of Islamophobia or racism in general don’t affect the public broadly enough to come up in an election campaign, Ghaffar-Siddiqui points out you don’t have to be Muslim for anti-Muslim hate to kill you.

The first person to be killed in a hate-crime after 9/11 was a man named Balbir Singh Sodhi, a Sikh man gunned down at his gas station in Arizona four days after the attacks by someone who mistook him for a Muslim. 

That’s why she and others believe the politicians who took to the stage in London after the killing of the Afzaal family need to deliver on their promises, not only for the Muslim community but for Canada as a whole.

“The face of Canada is changing,” she said.

“We have always been known for multiculturalism, but it’s one thing to show yourself as that type of nation and another to actually have the people of your nation feel safe in this country.” 

Source: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/canada-election-2021-racism-islamophobia-hate-1.6174511

Alleged hate crimes rarely investigated by police, report claims

Of note:

Nearly a quarter million Canadians say they were victims of hate-motivated incidents during a single year, but police across the country investigated fewer than one per cent of these events as hate crimes, according to new data from Statistics Canada.

The federal agency’s latest General Social Survey results on victimization show approximately 223,000 incidents were reported in 2019 in which victims felt hatred was a motivating factor for the suspect. Of those illegal or nearly-criminal events, 130,000 were deemed violent by the person reporting them.

About 21 per cent of the total victims – 48,000 – said they called local police, but official statistics from that same year show Canadian officers only reported 1,946 criminal incidents motivated by hate nationwide.

Statscan collects this information on victims of hate crimes every five years within a 12-month period. Experts say, even though it is immediately dated upon its release, the statistics offer the best snapshot of the state of hate in Canada.

Academics and non-profits that support victims say the scale of incidents captured by the pre-pandemic survey, released last week, are a wake-up call to the massive harms being done to the country’s marginalized communities.

“We are in denial, it’s not just complacency – for a lot, it is outright denial that there’s a problem,” said Barbara Perry, director of Ontario Tech University’s Centre on Hate, Bias and Extremism who began studying hate crimes in the country almost two decades ago.

This summer, Statistics Canada released crime data from last year that showed police across the country reported a record 2,669 hate crimes cases last year – a 37 per cent spike from the year prior – even as overall crime trended downward while society slowed down during the pandemic.

The relatively small number of cases flagged by police in 2019 as being motivated by hate also indicates the criminal justice system is doing a poor job of combatting hate crimes or other incidents where people are targeted over their ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation or gender, Dr. Perry said.

“That’s really disturbing, what’s happening is that the hate motivation is being funnelled out very early, police are not reporting or recording it as a hate crime or people have reported and it hasn’t been followed up,” Dr. Perry said.

Last year, Dr. Perry’s own study of hate crimes investigators she interviewed in Ontario showed they were often frustrated by a lack of institutional support to investigate these cases properly and many were unclear on what constitutes a hate crime, with their confusion exacerbated by the difficulty of determining the hate motivation in criminal acts.

The Criminal Code only identifies four actual hate crimes: three hate propaganda offences and mischief relating to religious or cultural sites. The rest of so-called hate crimes are incidents where a suspect is charged for a core crime and then prosecutors may argue hate motivation at the end of a trial to secure a heavier sentence.

The federal Liberal government recently told The Globe and Mail that it has no plans to update the code, as recommended by National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) and policing experts, to add new provisions that would single out hate-motivated assault, murder, threats, and mischief to include specific new penalties for each infraction.

Statistics Canada said it could not comment on the survey because the bureaucracy is in caretaker mode during the federal election campaign. A spokesperson for the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, which includes the leaders of most police forces in the country, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Friday.

Mustafa Farooq, CEO of NCCM, said his group has its own reporting line that he says logs at least one call a day about a violent threat or incident, said a major challenge is everyday people also have trouble separating a hate-motivated incident from a criminal act that meets the threshold of police securing a charge. That is why Canada needs to create a new system to better support these victims, whether a criminal offence is involved or not, he said.

But, Mr. Farooq said, even when people do report to their local police, the indifference they are often met with stops them from pursuing justice.

“When people come and tell their stories it is an often uphill battle to have police take those claims taken seriously,” he said, noting his organization frequently liaises with victims and officers.

Evan Balgord, the executive director of the Canadian Anti-Hate Network, a non-partisan non-profit, said the last General Social Survey on victimization in 2014 showed that people were slightly more likely to report these incidents to police, with 31 per cent of all hate-motivated incidents compared to 21 per cent in the new survey.

The new data shows victims attributed more than half the incidents (119,000) in part to a suspect being motivated by a hatred of their race or ethnicity, followed next by the language they were using (72,000) and then their sex (54,000). Multiple factors could be attributed by to a single incident, the agency said. The number of incidents were estimates rounded to the nearest thousand and based on a survey of 22,000 Canadians across the country, with roughly two-thirds choosing the option of responding online, the agency said.

More than half the incidents were reported in Ontario (74,000) and Quebec (62,000), followed by Alberta (31,000) and then British Columbia (29,000).

Irfan Chaudhry, director of MacEwan University’s office of Human Rights, Diversity and Equity in Edmonton, said one reason people don’t report a hate-motivated incident to police is that certain communities feel shame, don’t want to feel re-victimized when talking to the authorities and would rather deal with the aftermath, such as cleaning up offensive graffiti, on their own. More commonly, victims simply don’t feel officers can do anything, said Prof. Chaudhry, who founded and oversees Alberta’s Stop Hate independent reporting line for such incidents.

Mr. Balgord, whose group monitors, exposes and counters hate-promoting movements, groups and people, said Statistics Canada needs to do a much better job of tracking these hate incidents by doing this survey every year.

“The General Social Survey takes forever, it’s like a dinosaur – we’re halfway through 2021 and we’re just getting the 2019 results,” he said. “The hate ecosystem moves and shifts so quickly and we don’t even have pandemic-related hate crime data yet.”

Source: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/canada/british-columbia/article-alleged-hate-crimes-rarely-investigated-by-police-report-claims/?utm_medium=email&utm_source=Morning%20Update&utm_content=2021-8-30_7&utm_term=Morning%20Update:%20Ukrainian%20troops%20rescue%20Canada-bound%20Afghans%20in%20daring%20operation&utm_campaign=newsletter&cu_id=%2BTx9qGuxCF9REU6kNldjGJtpVUGIVB3Y

Ottawa declines overhaul of hate crime offences

Agree with B’nai Brith that enforcement is the bigger issue, along with the discomfort or reluctance of some to report incidents to the police:

Ottawa says existing Criminal Code offences are adequate to confront a recent surge in hate-fuelled incidents, but the federal government has recommitted to passing a law aimed at improving hate crime prosecutions.

After recent online summits on antisemitism and Islamophobia, the Department of Justice said this week that it wants to ensure hatred is better defined but otherwise has no plans to overhaul the way hate crimes are dealt with in the courts. Suspects are most often charged for a core crime and then prosecutors may argue hate motivation at the end of a trial to secure a heavier sentence.

The National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) released a list of 35 federal recommendations including a call for Ottawa to introduce new provisions in the code to single out hate-motivated assault, murder, threats, and mischief that would include specific new penalties for each infraction. The existing code only singles out three hate propaganda offences and mischief relating to religious or cultural sites.

Nadia Hasan, chief operating officer of the NCCM, said doing this would create a much stronger deterrent for potential criminals as hate crimes have risen in recent years.

“I’m not saying by any means that this alone would eradicate hate crimes for Canada, but it would send a strong message” that hate crimes deserve their own penalties, said Dr. Hasan. Her group also wants the code changed to offer restorative justice measures.

Dr. Hassan said creating a new class of hate crimes would also help victims get better service from front line investigators, some of whom are unfamiliar with Canada’s laws around hate-motivated attacks. The NCCM helped more than 70 hate crimes victims across the country seek justice last year and some of those victims have told her group that police in some jurisdictions routinely discouraged them from filing a hate-related complaint by telling them “it’s not worth it.”

“It happens often enough where we have to fight back and make sure the police are listening and really advocate for the victim,” said Dr. Hasan.

But Ian McLeod, a spokesman for the Department of Justice, said in an e-mailed statement that Canadians are well served by a justice system that prosecutes the existing hate crime offences and then, with other hate-related crimes, has penalties amplified when motivation is factored in at sentencing. However, he said Ottawa is committed to updating the Criminal Code throughBill C-36 to define hate speech as “content that expresses detestation or vilification of a person or group,” including over the Internet, where these comments are common.

Bill C-36, which targeted public hate speech by individuals, did not pass into law after being introduced by the Liberal government at the end of the parliamentary session. If an election is called this summer, as is widely expected, the legislation will no longer move forward.

Mr. McLeod’s statement said Ottawa is also tackling online hate through a proposal to create a new regime to police hateful content on social media sites.

In June, MPs unanimously voted to call the emergency Islamophobia conference following the murder of three generations of a London, Ont., Muslim family by a driver now facing terrorism charges, with the government also announcing the summit on antisemitism.

Statistics Canada also recently released its annual report on crime data showing 2020 brought a 10 per cent overall decrease in cases reported by police across the country, but departments reported a record 2,669 hate crimes cases – a 37 per cent spike from the year prior. Police and criminologists acknowledge hate crimes in general go vastly unreported.

Michael Mostyn, chief executive officer of B’nai Brith Canada, said his organization would rather see the current laws enforced “more diligently” before any new amendments are legislated.

“One of the serious frustrations from a group like B’nai Brith, which is dealing with the victims of hate crimes on a daily basis, is that we don’t see so many of these prosecutions across the country,” he said.

Mohammed Hashim, executive director of the Canadian Race Relations Foundation, a Crown corporation, said many different solutions are needed as Canada’s entire criminal justice system is ill-suited to address the scourge of hate crimes.

“It starts from underreporting; to not having confidence in the police dealing with hate crimes adequately; to the number of charges that are laid, or the lack thereof; and the level of seriousness that both attorney generals and prosecutors treat hate-motivated crimes,” he said.

Source: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/politics/article-ottawa-declines-overhaul-of-hate-crime-offences/

Ottawa is holding separate summits on anti-Semitism and Islamophobia. Should it have tackled them together?

Yes, they should have given some of the commonalities and the need for all Canadians, whatever their origins, religions or other characteristic have to work on reducing bias, discrimination and prejudice together.

Otherwise, more for show and signalling than the longer-term work required:

As two anti-hate summits grappling with a rising tide of hatred against Canada’s Jewish and Muslim communities get underway, could both groups forge a stronger path forward if they were to convene as one?

That’s a question being posed by Bernie Farber, the chair of the Canadian Anti-Hate Network and former CEO of the Canadian Jewish Congress, who will be attending both events.

“These are two groups, two faith communities, that have travelled parallel roads but have rarely intersected. And they are two communities that face the same form of hateful, violent targeting,” Farber told the Star.

“Wouldn’t it have made maybe a little bit more sense, in my view, to have had a summit … that would focus on both anti-Semitism and Islamophobia instead of having two separate ones, which has a tendency to not bring us together but to keep us apart?”

On Wednesday, the federal government will host a virtual summit on anti-Semitism, bringing together municipal and provincial political leaders to hear how the Jewish community would like to see hate, discrimination and harassment stamped out on a national scale. Former justice minister Irwin Cotler, now Canada’s special envoy for preserving Holocaust remembrance and combating anti-Semitism, will take part in the event.

Just one day later, the same task will befall members of Canada’s Muslim community, many of whom are still reeling from a targeted attack in June that killed four members of a Muslim family in London, Ont., as they were out for an evening walk. MPs unanimously voted in favour of a motion to hold a national summit on Islamophobia in the aftermath of the violent incident. 

But as political tensions over the conflict in the Middle East began to boil over earlier this year — leading to clashes and police intervention at several rallies between pro-Israeli and pro-Palestinian demonstrators across the country — so did hateful acts targeting Jews and Muslims.

“Once you’ve targeted people here in Canada for something that may have happened in the Middle East … it is either Islamophobia or anti-Semitism,” Farber said.

The tensions also trickled down to two leading Jewish and Muslim groups in Canada.

In May, the Centre of Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) sent an email to members of the federal government laying out the groundwork for an emergency summit to combat “a shocking wave of anti-Semitism” in Canada.

In one paragraph of the email, which was viewed by the Star, the organization called on Ottawa to “engage directly — and privately” with the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM), to “challenge them to recalibrate their rhetoric and activities in a way that ensures the safety of the public square for all.”

NCCM, which released its list of priority policy recommendations on Monday ahead of Thursday’s summit, would not comment on the email.

The remarks referred to NCCM’s call to the federal government to “denounce in no uncertain terms Israel’s deliberate attack on the Al-Aqsa Mosque,” a compound in Jerusalem’s Old City that is part of a site revered in both Islam and Judaism. 

In a statement to the Star, CIJA CEO Shimon Koffler Fogler said such language has been used to “foment anger” and violence against Jews in the past.

“We have communicated these concerns — in particular, the need for all civil society groups to engage with the issues in a constructive and respectful manner — directly to the NCCM as well as our government,” the statement read.

Farber, who has worked closely with Jewish and Muslim groups in Canada, told the Star he has worked “for years” to bring the groups together to jointly tackle hate.

“We can’t battle hatred from different outposts. There is strength in numbers. And I would say eventually, wouldn’t it be nice if we could actually bring all these targeted groups together under one umbrella, to share ideas, to share strategies?”

Mustafa Farooq, CEO of NCCM, said he would be happy to “work towards a broader summit” in Canada for all groups facing an upswing in hate.

“The reality is, we are facing a unique time where it’s all on the rise,” he said. 

But first, Farooq is focused on harms plaguing his own community.

“We are committed to working with all communities to solve Islamophobia and all forms of hate, but we do need to address the specific problems facing the Muslim community,” he said.

In an interview with the Star last Friday, Diversity and Inclusion Minister Bardish Chagger said it’s still clear there is “a lot more work to do” to eradicate hate in this country.

Chagger acknowledged that there is a “sense of urgency” in addressing these issues at the upcoming summits, particularly since the COVID-19 pandemic exposed even more inequities in Canadian society.

“It is important that the government listen and hear the ideas and suggestions and try to put them into actionable items,” she said. 

Source: https://www.thestar.com/politics/federal/2021/07/19/ottawa-is-holding-separate-summits-on-anti-semitism-and-islamophobia-should-it-have-tackled-them-together.html

‘Words are no longer enough’: Muslim group releases 60 calls to action ahead of National Summit on Islamophobia

Of note. Summits are often short-term political events to respond to community and raise broader awareness, providing platforms for organizations and political leaders. More substantive approaches involve more time and preparation than a one-day summit on the eve of an election, which runs the risk of being more virtue signalling than substantive.

And the risk of separate summits for Islamophobia and antisemitism is that the focus on the particular communities distracts from the fundamental commonalities of all groups that experience prejudice, bias and discrimination:

The National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) has released a list of policy recommendations for federal, provincial and municipal governments in Canada to tackle violent and systemic forms of Islamophobia. 

Among the 60 policy recommendations are calls for the federal government to create an anti-Islamophobia strategy by the end of the year, for provincial Ministries of Education to develop localized strategies to address anti-Muslim sentiment, and for municipalities to invest in alternative forms of policing to combat increasing harassment and violence against Muslims.

The NCCM is also calling on governments to expand legislation to dismantle white supremacist groups in Canada, to challenge Bill 21 in Quebec, and to provide resources to empower Muslim Canadians to tell their own stories.

The 60 calls to action will be presented at the National Summit on Islamophobia, which will be hosted by the federal government on July 22. A National Summit on anti-Semitism will be held on July 21.

“These summits will bring together a diverse group of community and political leaders, academics, activists, and members with intersectional identities within these communities,” according to a statement by Bardish Chagger, minister of diversity, inclusion and youth of Canada. 

On its website, the NCCM says it is an independent and non-partisan organization “that protects Canadian human rights and civil liberties, challenges discrimination and Islamophobia, builds mutual understanding, and advocates for the public concerns of Canadian Muslims.”

For Mustafa Farooq, the CEO of NCCM, the only way to measure the success for the upcoming summit will be whether action is taken or commitments are made in regards to the 60 calls to action and recommendations from other groups. Farooq says the NCCM will release an updated document following the summit to record any commitments made by governments and track any agreed-upon timelines. 

“This is not about getting together to talk about best practices,” he told the Star. “This is about committing to action.”

Thursday’s summit comes in the wake of the deadly June attack on a Muslim family in London, Ontario, along with a steep rise in targeted hate crimes against Muslims across the country. According to the NCCM, more Muslims have been killed in targeted hate attacks in Canada than any other G-7 country in the past five years because of Islamophobia. In Alberta alone, at least nine attacks have been reported against Muslim women, most of them Black and wearing a hijab, since December.

On June 11, following calls from the Muslim community and a petition from the NCCM, the House of Commons gave unanimous consent to an NDP motion to convene an emergency summit on Islamophobia. The motion also called on leaders from all levels of government to “urgently change policy to prevent another attack targeting Canadian Muslims.”

Following the motion, the NCCM launched consultations with Canadian Muslims from coast to coast, in search of tangible policy solutions.

“Canada doesn’t have the appropriate infrastructure to challenge Islamophobia,” Farooq told the Star. “There isn’t a single body of governance in this country that is dedicated to fighting Islamophobia. This despite the fact that the impacts of Islamophobia have resulted in the worst attack on a religious institution in modern Canadian history.”

Thus, an overarching theme of the NCCM’s calls to action is the need to institutionalize the fight against anti-Muslim sentiment. This includes the creation of an Office of the Special Envoy on Islamophobia. 

“This position needs to work with various ministries to inform policy, programming and financing of efforts that impact Canadian Muslims,” the document reads. “The envoy should have the powers of a commissioner to investigate different issues relating to Islamophobia in Canada, and to conduct third-party reviews across all sectors of the federal government relating to concerns of Islamophobia.”

Another theme found in the NCCM’s recommendations is the need to address the way that education in Canada deals with Islamophobia. Specifically, the organization recommends that provincial education ministries develop anti-Islamophobia strategies that are responsive to local contexts. This includes changes to curricula that relate to Islam, improving religious accommodations for Muslim students and staff, anti-Islamophobia training.

“The reality is that (Quebec City mosque attacker) Alexandre Bissonette and (alleged London attacker) Nathaniel Veltman were young men,” Farooq told the Star. “We need to see a different approach to education, and the way that young people are learning about Canadian Muslims. A large percentage of Canadians have suspicions towards their Canadian Muslim brothers and sisters, and we think education and anti-Islamophobia awareness is a key component.”

NCCM’s document is broader than the 30 calls to action to combat systemic racism and hate that was published by a federal Heritage committee in 2017. However, Farooq believes that now is the time to take bold action.

“Words are no longer enough,” he told the Star. “The reality is that at this point, every single federal political party, the vast majority of the provinces, dozens of municipalities have all expressed their concerns about Islamophobia and Islamophobic violence. Faith communities are united about this, civil society folks are united — Canadians are united about the fact that things need to change. We just need to translate this into real political will to move things forward.”


Here are some of the recommendations from the NCCM’s 60 calls to action.

  • The NCCM is calling for the release of a federal anti-Islamophobia strategy by year’s end. The NCCM recommends the strategy include a clear definition of Islamophobia to be adopted across government, plus funding and resources for research, programs and education campaigns to address Islamophobia.
  • The NCCM wants the federal government to take action against Quebec’s Bill 21, which bans public servants from wearing religious symbols. Specifically, it wants the attorney general to commit to being an official intervener in court battles on the legislation. The document calls Bill 21 “a fundamentally discriminatory law” that perpetuates the idea “that Islam, Muslims, and open religious expression in general, have no place in Quebec.” The NCCM is also calling for the creation of a fund to financially assist those affected by the legislation.
  • Citing the rising tide of online hate and Islamophobia on social media, the NCCM is calling on the federal government to complete a legislative review of the Canadian Human Rights Act, in order to ensure that Canada is equipped to deal with modern forms of Islamophobia and hate. 
  • The NCCM is calling on the federal government to invest in a national support fund for survivors of hate-motivated incidents or attacks. The NCCM is also recommending changes to the country’s Security Infrastructure Program, to provide funding for security upgrades to mosques and community organizations under threat.
  • There are several calls to action dedicated to reforming national security and dismantling white supremacist groups. These include creating legislation “to implement provisions that place any entity that finances, facilitates, or participates in violent white supremacist and/or neo-Nazi activities on a list of violent white supremacist groups, which is separate and distinct from the terror-listing provisions.” The NCCM also calls on provincial governments to introduce legislation that bans white supremacist groups from incorporating.
  • The NCCM wants the Criminal Code changed to better deal with what is often called a “hate crime.” Specifically, the group is calling for amendments that “reinvigorate how we approach hate crimes, and that strengthens a prosecutorial approach that lacks consistency, clarity and resourcing across the country,” according to Farooq. 
  • The document includes several policy changes to tackle systemic Islamophobia at a federal level, including changes to the Canadian Border Services, the Canadian Revenue Agency and Canada’s approach to security and counterterrorism. For example, the NCCM is calling for the establishment of an oversight body specifically for the Canadian Border Services Agency, citing allegations that the agency engages in racial profiling that disproportionately targets Muslims.
  • The NCCM is recommending changes to policing at the municipal and provincial levels. This includes investing in alternative forms of policing for municipalities and introducing street harassment bylaws that protect Canadians against hateful verbal assaults. The NCCM also recommends that all provinces adopt the recommendations of Ontario’s 2017 Tulloch report, which calls for a sweeping overhaul in police oversight.
  • The document also includes several calls for governments to invest in and collaborate with storytellers, artists and filmmakers to help Muslim Canadians tell their stories and challenge narratives that contribute to all forms of Islamophobia. This includes funding local initiatives to celebrate the long history and contributions of Muslim Canadians.

Source: https://www.thestar.com/politics/federal/2021/07/19/words-are-no-longer-enough-how-one-muslim-group-wants-canada-to-deal-with-islamophobia.html

‘Another political extravaganza?’ Muslim academics, community members skeptical about what might be achieved at Islamophobia summit

Some merit to this reaction as summits tend to be one-time events, often more symbolic recognition of affected groups with limited ongoing impact and change. This does not make the motives for holding them insincere, just that their impact is limited.

The many meetings and conferences regarding antisemitism have not reduced the number of antisemitic incidents, for example:

A National Summit on Islamophobia will be held this month, in the wake of a deadly truck attack in London, Ont. that left multiple members of the same family dead and as violent incidents of street harassment against Muslim women have been reported in Alberta.

But with scarce details available about the virtual event, including its date, and with the history of inaction on Islamophobia at federal and provincial levels, Muslim academics and community members are skeptical about what might be achieved.

They told the Star they fear governments may be providing the same empty words and promises that emerged in years past, including after the Quebec City mosque shooting.

Discussions where governments consulted with community members about how to tackle Islamophobia and hate have happened before — and the moment for talking has passed, they say. It’s now time to dismantle policies that limit the rights of Muslim people in Canada, said Fatimah Jackson-Best, a public health researcher and lecturer at York University.

“We don’t need a summit to know [about Islamophobia], we see this happening in our news. We need action,” she said. “There are some pressing issues around safety and freedom of religion and expression that we need policy on expeditiously,” she said.

Jackson-Best cites Bill 21 in Quebec, which bans the wearing of religious symbols for public servants, as discriminatory as it disproportionately impacts Muslim women who are not able to dress the way they want and wear the hijab in jobs in the province, including as lawyers or teachers.

Along with an honest discussion about standing up against Bill 21, the summit would also need to feature a multitude of voices to reflect the vast diversity of Canada’s Muslim community. Black Muslims, refugees and those of lower income need to be spotlighted, she explained.

She’s not interested in empty discussions on topics of which the community and politicians are already aware.

“Is [the summit] going to be another political extravaganza?” she asked. “There was nearly an entire family killed in London due to Islamophobia. This is getting very dire, so I’m just anxious to hear what kind of summit it will be.”

Calls for a summit grew after the June 6 attack in London that saw Salman Afzaal, 46, Madiha Salman, 44, Yumna Afzaal, 15, Fayez Afzaal, 9, and Talat Afzaal, 74, targeted for their faith while they were out for an evening walk. Fayez was treated in hospital and was the sole survivor.

In the weeks since the murders there have been violent incidents targeting Muslim women in Edmonton, including an attack where a woman wearing a hijab was pushed to the ground and knocked unconscious, while another woman had a knife held to her throat.

The office of Canada’s Diversity and Inclusion Minister Bardish Chagger told the Star Wednesday evening that on June 11 the government committed to hosting the summit and that she “would like to assure all Canadians that work began that very day. This is an important step as we recognize that systemic action is necessary and needed.”

Chagger said the federal government has been committed to tackling Islamophobia since it took office, by passing M-103, which was a motion to condemn Islamophobia, and by developing Canada’s anti-racism strategy, creating the anti-racism secretariat along with adding white supremacist groups to Canada’s terror list.

The National Council of Canadian Muslims has put out a call for policy submissionsfor the summit that it will include in the final report it presents there.

Combating street harassment, specifically where hijab-wearing Muslim women are targeted, along with putting another 250 white supremacist groups on Canada’s list of terrorist organizations are just some of the issues the NCCM plans to raise, said spokesperson Fatema Abdalla.

A petition by the NCCM in June asking for Ottawa to convene a summit amassed more than 40,000 signatures.

Calls for a summit to address Islamophobia are not new and have been discussed since incidents of hate increased after 9/11, nearly 20 years ago, said Faisal Kutty, a lawyer and adjunct law professor at York University.

Anti-terror measures implemented at the time that have seen many innocent Muslim Canadians placed on no-fly lists, impeding their ability to work and travel, continue to be a major issue, he said.

Provincial and federal governments have portrayed the Muslim community as a threat and they have a track record of making hate towards Muslims worse, not better, Kutty explained.

“The government has played a significant role in breeding Islamophobia. The onus is on them to take the initiative to rectify the situation,” he said.

Kutty says he’s doubtful real policy that will help communities, like launching a national database on all hate crimes, will emerge from the summit.

He points to the failure by the government to pass real policy changes following the January 2017 mosque shooting in Quebec City that left six dead and five others seriously injured.

In 2017 following the attack, the House of Commons passed M-103 with a vote of 201-91, which was a non-binding motion that condemned Islamophobia. The majority of Conservative MPs voted against it.

As a result of that motion, a Heritage committee report with 30 recommendations on hate, systemic racism and Islamophobia was published and included creating a national action plan and improved data collection on hate crimes.

Other than declaring Jan. 29 a day of remembrance for the Quebec Mosque attack, not much was implemented from the report, said Kutty.

“That’s why I’m saying the track record has not been good,” he said. “The fact that people are acknowledging it and saying they want to do something about it is an improvement, but until we see action … I can’t really say we’re going to see too many improvements.”

After the June attack in London, a motion presented at Queen’s Park by Liberal MPP Mitzie Hunter called on the legislature to condemn all forms of Islamophobia and commit to a six-month plan to tackle anti-Muslim hate in the province, including dismantling hundreds of white supremacist groups. It also called for support of the national summit.

But the province ended up tabling its own version of the motion that, while including condemning Islamophobia, did not include the six-month plan commitment, Hunter told the Star.

In a statement, the Ministry of the Solicitor General told the Star the province condemns all forms of hatred including Islamophobia and cited its anti-racism strategic plan that includes working with the Muslim community to tackle hate.

On Tuesday, Ontario also pledged $300,000 to Muslim organizations to address Islamophobia in schools.

The anti-racism directorate within the anti-racism strategic plan doesn’t have the resources it needs and is another instance where current government policies aren’t working, said Amira Elghawaby, a founding member of the Canadian Anti-Hate Network, which monitors, exposes and counters hate groups.

She said she hopes at the very least the summit will symbolize that governments are finally agreeing on the urgency of the issue.

“We finally got past the point of people still denying the reality of Islamophobia. And now we are starting to move toward addressing it, but it won’t happen overnight,” said Elghawaby.

Jasmine Zine, a sociology professor at Wilfrid Laurier University, was the co-chair of the Islamophobia subcommittee under Kathleen Wynne’s Liberal government. But it was dismantled when Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservative government was elected in 2018 and there is now a lack of proactive approach to Islamophobia — with statements and funding only emerging when there is an attack, said Zine.

“There’s been a lot of lost opportunities,” she said, referring to M-103, echoing Kutty’s comments about the 30 recommendations not being implemented.

She said she is unsure whether the summit will end up being politicians posturing, especially ahead of a possible fall federal election.

“It’s hard to feel that there’s a lot of sincerity when after the last terror attack there were opportunities to do something and they were not taken,” she said.

“So here we are again. It’s like déjà vu for a lot of us.”

Source: ‘Another political extravaganza?’ Muslim academics, community members skeptical about what might be achieved at Islamophobia summit

O’Toole’s ‘Lack Of Courage’ Against Bill 21 Frustrates Muslim And Sikh Groups

Of note (and not surprising, “pandering” to Quebec more nationalist voters comes at a cost):

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole ’s tacit support for Quebec’s discriminatory Bill 21 caught the National Council of Canadian Muslims by surprise this week, leading it and the World Sikh Organization of Canada (WSO) to denounce the move, saying they are deeply disappointed by the Tory leader’s “lack of courage.”

“It is an absolutely horrific situation that we never thought would happen in Canada, and the fact that none of our federal leaders are really showing the courage to stand up for freedom of religion and to stand up for minority communities, it is very disappointing,” WSO spokesman Balpreet Singh told HuffPost Canada Tuesday.

O’Toole’s comments on Bill 21 came after a meeting with Quebec Premier François Legault in Montreal on Monday. The newly elected leader of the Conservative party said he sought the meeting to “fully understand” the policy debates in the province, including those regarding questions about Quebec identity.

“That is a priority for me, personally,” he told reporters, in French, after the meeting. “We talked about Bill 101 [the French-language law] and Bill 21 [a bill that forbids new employees in certain public-sector jobs, such as teachers, police officers and judges, from wearing religious symbols].

“And I will respect provincial jurisdictions of all provinces, including on laws to protect secularism and the French language. That will be a priority for me, as leader of the opposition,” O’Toole said.

The Tory leader took a much more nuanced stance on whether his party would support a single income tax form for Quebec residents, saying that while he and Legault spoke about it, he would not commit to the proposal.

“I said I will speak to my caucus on that,” he said, declining to state his personal position on the tax form. “I am — I am going to take an approach — because we must protect jobs.  I’m going to talk to my colleagues, I’m going to talk to the unions, with the people in Shawinigan [where an important federal tax centre is located], and I will take a decision after the discussions,” he said.

O’Toole confirmed to journalists he would not intervene in court cases challenging the law.

“No, we have a national unity crisis at the moment, particularly in Western Canada … and we need a government in Ottawa that respects provincial autonomy, and respects provincial legislatures and the national assembly, I will have an approach like that,” O’Toole said. “Personally, I served in the military with Sikhs and other people, so I understand why it is a difficult question, but as a leader you have to respect our Constitution and the partnerships we need to have in Canada. Focus on what we can do together.”

In his Conservative leadership platform, O’Toole pledged to defend religious rights. He said he would bring back the Office of Religious Freedom, a bureau established by Conservative prime minister Stephen Harper within the foreign affairs department. It sought to protect and promote religious rights abroad but was shut down by the Trudeau government. O’Toole called it an “important contribution to global freedom.”

Singh said he believes it shows the Conservative leader’s hypocrisy of standing up for religious rights abroad while ignoring their being trampled at home.

“This is all about votes,” Singh said about the bill, which is now law and enjoys widespread support in the province. “The [federal politicians] are all saying that on an individual personal level they oppose this. Erin O’Toole said he would never do this federally. That is really a cold comfort. I mean if individually we are opposed to it, then collectively should we not do something to make sure that the discrimination ends?”

Singh added that he thought it “even more disturbing” that O’Toole seemed to misunderstand what secularism means.

“If someone thinks that Bill 21 is about secularism, I think they have actually misunderstood what secularism actually means …. Canada doesn’t favour any religious group or any individual based on their faith. This is about excluding people because of their faith. That is not what secularism is all about.”

Both the World Sikh Organization of Canada and the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) reached out to O’Toole’s office after his comments to the media. Monday evening, his office sent the groups a statement saying that “Mr. O’Toole has been consistent and clear that he personally disagrees with Bill 21” and that as prime minister, O’Toole would “never introduce a bill like this at the federal level.”

Still, Mustafa Farooq, the CEO of the NCCM, said he was caught by “surprise” by O’Toole’s comments, believing that the new Tory leader was trying to extend an olive branch and a welcome mat to religious communities that haven’t always voted Conservative.

If you’re also not fighting Bill 21, there is a fundamental issue.Mustafa Farooq, CEO of the National Council of Canadian Muslims

Farooq noted that, in his acceptance speech after winning the Tory leadership, O’Toole told Canadians: “I want you to know from the start that I am here to fight for you and your family.”

He then went on to say:

“I believe that whether you are Black, white, brown, or from any race or creed; whether you are LGBT or straight; whether you are an indigenous Canadian or have joined the Canadian family three weeks ago or three generations ago; whether you are doing well, or barely getting by; whether you worship on Fridays, Saturdays or Sundays or not at all, you are an important part of Canada, and you have a home in the Conservative party of Canada.”

O’Toole said the Conservative party would always stand for “doing what is right, even when it is not what is easy. That is what Canadians stand for.”

Farooq said O’Toole and the other federal leaders, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and NDP leader Jagmeet Singh, need to stand up for those who are being marginalized.

“You cannot fight for religious freedom or say the words religious freedom and also not come out very strongly in opposition to Bill 21, and that goes for every party leader,” he said.

“He needs to do something to fight it. I want to be unequivocal about that. He and all political leaders in Canada need to clearly state not only that they condemn it and they don’t like it but what they are going to do to fight it.

The federal Liberals have criticized the bill

“It’s not OK when you have one of our provinces in Canada where you have a Jewish man who isn’t allowed to wear a kippah and become a prosecutor, or a Muslim woman wearing a hijab is not allowed to become a police officer,” he added. “Even as we are having these discussions about systemic racism in policing, it’s not possible to have those kinds of conversations, to say that Canadians deserve better and we need change, and not to take an active role in clearly denouncing and consistently condemning Bill 21 for as long as it remains on the books,” Farooq added.

“For anyone that talks about systemic racism or talks about police reform, or anyone that’s talking about protecting constitutional rights… and if you’re also not fighting Bill 21, there is a fundamental issue.”

Farooq and Singh noted that the federal Liberals are “marginally better” on the issue, since the prime minister has opened the door to intervening in the Charter challenges at a later stage, while the Conservative and the NDP leaders are firmly opposed to fighting the bill.

“We feel this is an existential threat to human rights in Canada. The fact that the Canadian government is not intervening in this is disappointing to us … the Liberals have not ruled it out but the Conservatives and the NDP have been clear that they will not interfere,” the WSO spokesman said.

The Charter challenge is scheduled to be heard on Nov. 2 in Quebec Superior Court. The hearing is expected to last four weeks. Most observers expect the case will make its way through to the province’s Court of Appeal and, eventually, the Supreme Court of Canada.

Source: O’Toole’s ‘Lack Of Courage’ Against Bill 21 Frustrates Muslim And Sikh Groups

National Council of Canadian Muslims thanks Conservative MP for entering anti-Bill 21 petition

Of note:

The National Council of Canadian Muslims on Thursday expressed its thanks to MP Garnett Genuis, Conservative Critic of Multiculturalism, for entering an anti-Bill 21 petition on the first day of session on January 27, 2020.

Bill 21, An Act respecting the laicity of the State, is the piece of legislation that prevents Jews, Muslims, Sikhs, and others from wearing religious symbols and becoming prosecutors, teachers, or police officers (among other professions) in Quebec.

“Since the day Bill 21 was passed, we have called upon all politicians, of all political parties, to condemn Bill 21”, said Mustafa Farooq, Executive Director of the National Council of Canadian Muslims.

“Other legislative assemblies, including Manitoba and Ontario, have passed motions to formally condemn Bill 21. Today, we thank MP Genuis for filing the petition calling on the House of Commons to formally condemn Bill 21. The time is now for all elected officials to formally condemn second-class citizenship in the House of Commons”.

The text of the petition states:

We, the undersigned citizens of Canada, draw the attention of the House of Commons to the following:
Whereas the province of Quebec has passed An Act respecting the laicity of the State (“Bill 21”), that restricts the wearing of religious symbols; and;
Whereas our federation is built on a diverse community, where many Canadians wear religious symbols including turbans, hijabs, kippas, crosses and many other symbols; and
Whereas the fundamental right of religious freedom is enshrined in the Canadian constitution; and
Whereas national civil rights groups, including: the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, the National Council of Canadian Muslims, B’nai Brith Canada, the World Sikh Organization, the Canadian Bar Association, Amnesty International, and the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs have condemned the legislation’s infringement on Canadians’ rights; and
Whereas the federal government bears a responsibility to stand up in defence of the Canadian multicultural mosaic;
We the undersigned therefore urge the House of Commons to formally denounce Bill 21.

Source: National Council of Canadian Muslims thanks Conservative MP for entering anti-Bill 21 petition

FATAH: Islamist groups eligible for share of $23M in federal funding? | Toronto Sun Corrrection

An example of fake news, where the original headline was “Islamic Relief and Other Groups to Receive $23M”, and the Sun was obliged to issue the following correction, not been picked up by the media and bloggers recirculating the story.

“Clarification

Tarek Fatah in a July 3, 2018 column incorrectly stated the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) is receiving funding from a federal multicultural program. Liberal MP Iqra Khalid suggested organizations such as NCCM would receive funding in a video referenced by Fatah however NCCM has not applied for funding.  The Toronto Sun regrets the error”

Slightly reworded article to reflect the correction:

On the afternoon of June 27 while most of Canada was at work or watching the World Cup matches, a major funding announcement was made with little fanfare and in front of no more than a couple of dozen, mostly Muslim audience of Pakistani Canadians.

Mississauga-Erindale MP Iqra Khalid who has been the mouthpiece of the divisive Motion M103 on ‘Islamophobia’ stood in her constituency office to announce that the Trudeau government was investing an additional $23 Million into its multiculturalism program.

With no mainstream media in attendance to ask any questions, Khalid boasted that her “hard work has resulted into tangible action.” She listed the following two groups as being potential recipients of the new funding:

The National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM), a former branch of the U.S. based Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) that was named in 2008 as an unindicted co-conspirator connected to the “largest terror-funding trial in U.S. history. NCCM has denied links to CAIR.

Islamic Relief, a worldwide charity accused of links to Islamist extremism by Middle East Forum, Israel and the United Arab Emirates among others.

There is no solid record that the Canadian arms of these two organizations have contributed to current problematic behaviour.  Nonetheless, for over a year many Muslim Canadians, including yours truly, my Sun colleague Farzana Hassan as well as other Muslim critics of Islamism had warned that the M103 initiative was much more than the victimhood culture of guilt being forced onto ordinary Canadians.

Khalid, in explaining during a press conference to announce the funding, suggested the $23 million is intended to “build bridges” between Canadians and to give new Canadians a “foundation” in this country by supporting community groups.

“NCCM that does a lot of data collecting on hate crimes and really pushing that advocacy needle forward within our country,” Khalid said. “Or like Islamic Relief, that does work not only within Canada, across Canada, across the world in really removing those stereotypes.”

So on Wednesday, we saw our fears come true. While Islamists are eligible to receive funds to conduct their Sharia agenda in Canada, Muslim critics of jihad, polygamy, FGM and Sharia have been left on their own to fight global Islamofascism.

In a message to MP Khalid, I asked her to clarify if any part of the $23M will be used to counter the daily denigration of Christians and Jews that takes place in mosques across Canada, from dawn to dusk.

I reminded her that “most Friday sermons at mosque congregations end with a call to Allah to grant Muslims victory over non-Muslims, referred to as ‘Qawm al Kafiroon’.”

“Will the $23M be used to de-radicalize mosque clerics and educate them to end hateful sermons from the pulpits,” I asked.

Despite reaching out to her office twice, I did not get a response, nor any press release or statement issued by any ministry of the Trudeau cabinet.

In making the announcement, the Pakistan-born Liberal MP told her scant audience, her M103 initiative was about “systemic racism and religious discrimination” and that “my goal was to study it and understand why does it happen and to find solutions.”

Most Canadians would have told her, ‘physician, heal thyself,’ but of course, ordinary Canadians are too scared to be labelled as ‘racist’ by privileged Islamists riding the waves of victimhood.

In recommending Islamic Relief as one of the recipients of the $23 million fund, Khalid covered up the fact that even Bangladesh, a Muslim-majority country has banned Islamic Relief from providing either relief or aid to some 500,000 Rohingya refugees who have taken refuge in the country.

Khalid also shrugged off allegations that Islamic Relief has long been accused of funding terror. The United Arab Emirates has designated Islamic Relief as a terror-financing organization while in Russian authorities have accused Islamic Relief of supporting terrorism in Chechnya.

My question to ordinary Canadians is this: Who will stand up to the Islamist agenda in our country if it’s the government itself that funds their agenda?

Clarification

Tarek Fatah in a July 3, 2018 column incorrectly stated the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) is receiving funding from a federal multicultural program. Liberal MP Iqra Khalid suggested organizations such as NCCM would receive funding in a video referenced by Fatah however NCCM has not applied for funding.  The Toronto Sun regrets the error

via FATAH: Islamist groups eligible for share of $23M in federal funding? | Toronto Sun

No, CSIS does not ‘target’ Muslims with no accountability (Gurski) and the piece that prompted it (Gardee)

Phil Gurski on Ihsaan Gardee’s earlier column (reprinted below):

There are times when you read something that makes your blood boil and demands a response. One such time occurred to me last week within the pages of The Hill Times in an op-ed by Ihsaan Gardee, executive director of the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM). Entitled “Government must rebuild trust with Canadian Muslims on national security“, this op-ed piece is full of language like “over-reaching and draconian,” “smearing Muslims,” “Islamophobia,” “systemic bias and discrimination,” and “little or no accountability,” all directed at CSIS and other agencies involved in national security.

Gardee paints a picture of CSIS that seems to have it in for Canada’s Muslims and which has undermined attempts by those communities to “establish robust partnerships.” He appears convinced that CSIS is an organization run rogue that has “protracted problems” which leads to the “stigmatization” of those among us who are Muslim.

As a former analyst at CSIS who not only worked on Islamist extremism for 15 years, but who has written four books on the topic—and met with Muslims all across the country to discuss the issues of radicalization and terrorism—I think I am in a better position than him to draw a better picture. And no, for the record, I am not a ‘shill’ for CSIS and more than happy to point to the bad as well as the good within the agency.

So to the first accusation levelled by Gardee: does Islamophobia exist within CSIS? Absolutely—I saw it first-hand and challenged it when I saw it, although it is not as pervasive as he thinks it is. And, yes, the lawsuit containing allegations about Islamophobia among other shortcomings that was settled by five former employees was based on facts, as I outlined quite clearly in a previous Hill Times column. Aside from that, however, everything else Gardee alleges as endemic within CSIS—I cannot speak for another agency such as CBSA as I never worked there and would never purport to know what goes on within its walls—is false. As CSIS won’t publicly address these fabrications, I will, if for no other reason than I toiled tirelessly for a decade and a half to do my small part in keeping Canadians safe from terrorism and don’t want my time construed as wasted in a racist environment.

But if you look at the terrorist/violent extremist environment in Canada since 9/11, which seems to be the timeframe Gardee sees when everything went to hell for Muslim Canadians, the vast majority of attacks have been perpetrated by Islamist extremists. And that does not even take into account the Islamic State ‘foreign fighter’ phenomenon that led to the deaths of countless thousands in Iraq and Syria. Does this perhaps explain why CSIS and its partners have focused on the Muslim community in that time, given that these perpetrators come from that community?

What Gardee appears to fail to understand is that CSIS is an intelligence agency that is driven by intelligence. Intelligence tells it where to put its resources; that and government requirements. If the threat is emanating primarily from a small number of Canadians who happen to be Muslim then that is exactly where you would want our protectors to look, not elsewhere.

I am not saying that CSIS or its employees are perfect. No, they are not as they are human. In addition, there is always room for improvement, and that includes its relations with communities across Canada, Muslims among them. Since 9/11, however, CSIS has done its part with its partners to prevent deaths. I would think that Gardee would at least acknowledge that much.

I thus reject Gardee’s accusations. He owes CSIS an apology for his ill-considered words. Phil Gurski is a former strategic analyst with CSIS, an author and the Director of Intelligence and Security at the SecDev Group.

via No, CSIS does not ‘target’ Muslims with no accountability – The Hill Times

Gardee’s op-ed made in the context of C-59:

Once bitten, twice shy. That’s the sense within Canadian Muslim communities when it comes to the Liberal government’s proposed overhaul of national security law under Bill C-59.

The legislation was back before the House last week after examination by the Public Safety and National Security Committee.

Let’s not forget where this first started. Under the previous government, Canadian anti-terrorism laws quickly morphed into overreaching and draconian policies. This was coupled with Muslim communities facing jarring public scrutiny and increasing Islamophobia.

Back then, despite efforts from Canadian Muslims to establish robust partnerships on national security, the government’s response was to smear them as a threat to Canada. The result: trust between Canadian Muslims and the government agencies tasked with protecting us all evaporated after years of work.

The days when the loyalty of Canadian Muslims was being questioned by government officials seem behind us—for now. But that is no standard by which to measure meaningful change.

That very public show of Islamophobic discourse by government overshadowed something even more alarming—the permeating of systemic bias and discrimination against Muslims by and in our security agencies.

In the past several months alone, we have seen sweeping allegations by CSIS employees about racism and Islamophobia within the service and new data that suggests the CBSA disproportionately targets non-whites, particularly those from the Middle East.

These accounts, along with the direct reports regularly received by our organization, only amplify concerns about what Canadian Muslims have been experiencing for years.

To be fair, Bill C-59 does make important, long-overdue improvements to previous laws, including better and more focused review powers and mechanisms as well as some stricter directives to prevent complicity with torture by foreign powers.

Last December, our organization told the House Public Safety Committeethat redress and review were only a partial solution to the problems plaguing Canada’s national security system. Real reform of security work is necessary to address systemic bias and discrimination.

As outlined by experts and civil society, there are several concerning elements in Bill C-59; however, two key issues have recently come to the fore.

First, the government has not substantially reined back the contentious disruption powers given to CSIS—an agency that we know through public inquiries has targeted Muslims with little to no accountability for their actions. There must be a concerted effort by government to confront the systemic bias in the way CSIS approaches and resources its intelligence work. Until real change occurs, these powers which remain unproven in their effectiveness are only an invitation to more abuse and scandal.

Second, the lack of due process in the Passenger Protect Program—Canada’s No Fly List—continues. This has been one of the most troubling instruments of state power for over a decade. There are no reported cases of Canadians successfully getting off the list through the Passenger Protect Inquiries Office which was created in 2016. Families impacted by the list say the inquiries office has been of little to no use. Although recently funding has been earmarked for a new redress system to remove false flagging, how and why Canadians find themselves on this draconian list in the first place remains unanswered.

As we look ahead, the aegis of this legislation does not engender the kind of trust from communities that is needed.

Incidentally, Public Safety Canada’s recently launched Canada Centre for Community Engagement and the Prevention of Violence is pledging a strategy that “reflects the realities faced by Canada’s diverse communities.” Canadian Muslims are closely watching whether this initiative is yet another exercise in falsely framing national security as the “Muslim problem” or whether policymaking will finally take into account the growing threat of far-right extremism in Canada.

In other words, rebuilding trust with our communities cannot be achieved through roundtables and focus groups.

It has been more than a decade since the Arar Inquiry report first outlined some of the protracted problems within our country’s security apparatus. Through the haze of political haste, 12 years later Canadian Muslims are still seeking the partnership with government that ends their national security stigmatization.

Government must rebuild trust with Canadian Muslims on national security