Over the decades, Muslims have constantly suffered from hate crimes and anti-Muslim terrorism in different countries; Canada is no exception. For instance, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Beliefs' report in 2020 revealed that a majority of Canadians, estimated at 52%, believe that Muslims are untrustworthy persons, while 42% think that racial discrimination is mainly the fault of Muslims themselves. Deplorably still, in the recent months, Islamophobia has reached an unprecedented peak in Canada.
The ongoing hate crimes target Muslims regardless of their gender or age group. For instance, a Muslim Saskatoon man called Muhammad Kashif, who emigrated from Pakistan to Canada 20 years ago when he was 12 years old, narrated that two men had abused him verbally behind his home, saying: “Why are you wearing this dress? Why are you here? Go back to your country. We hate Muslims. Why do you have this beard?” before cutting his beard and stabbing him in the arm.
Not only that, Albert police said that a Muslim veiled woman was knocked on a St. Albert pathway after she and her sister had been attacked by a white knife-wielding man uttering racial slurs. Moreover, the Canadian police reported a terrorist attack that targeted a Muslim family in the city of London where the assailant killed four members from one Muslim family while the fifth, a nine-year-old boy, was in a serious condition in the hospital. The police report added that the crime was motivated by hate against Muslims, as the suspect ran over the family with his pickup truck with the premeditated aim of killing.
Such incidents actually fuel fear not only amongst Muslims but also in other religious and ethnic communities. An Edmontonian Muslim veiled woman said, “If you're waiting for someone to be killed, that's already happened. So why are there no actual concrete legal measures and emergency action? Enough with these words. We need action”. In response to such dramatically accelerating events, hundreds of people attended a rally in Churchill Square in downtown Edmonton demanding action to protect Muslim women. Unfortunately, they had to bring police officers and peace officers to ensure that the people who want to speak against injustice and discrimination were protected.
In this regard, Saskatoon Mayor Charlie Clark expressed his grief over this attack: “Groups that are spreading white supremacy, Islamophobia and any other form of discrimination need to be investigated and held accountable. We must also confront individual acts of racism and discrimination”. Also, the Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau condemned such terrorist attacks as "motivated by hatred, in the heart of one of our communities. If anyone thinks racism and hatred don’t exist in this country, I want to say this: How do we explain such violence to a child in a hospital? How can we look families in the eye and say "Islamophobia isn’t real?"
We are actually in an urgent need to think about and analyze the motivations and reasons behind what is going around, causing such considerable suffering. What is shameful is that the anti-Muslim trend in certain Western countries is likely to grow further in the future, not only according to what hate crime statistics signify, but because anti-Muslim sentiments often seem to be remarkable points in most government and media agendas.
For the sake of countering such tendency of exclusion, the two top religious figures in the world, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar and the Pope of Vatican, assert that fraternity is the new frontier of humanity. It is the challenge of our contemporary world, declaring, “Human Fraternity means respect and to listen with an open heart, and to have strength in our principles”. The world is in an urgent need to build this fraternity, not to negotiate it; it is time to apply and practice it sincerely.
In a nutshell, as far as combating such hatful trend is concerned, words alone are not enough and will not end anti-Muslim hate anywhere. So, what about helping the next generation of children to think about their role in creating a new world and community full of harmony and engagement through focusing on Muslim role models in effective positions who serve their countries? Here, it is worth mentioning that Canadian Prime Minister’s nomination of the first judge of color to sit on Canada’s Supreme Court is a historic step in restoring the dignity of individuals regardless of their race, color, gender or religion in Canada. Judge Mahmud Jamal said, “Like many others, I experienced discrimination as a fact of daily life. As a child and youth, I was taunted and harassed because of my name, religion, or the color of my skin.”