Tag: Islamophobia

Muslim family killed in terror attack in London, Ontario: Islamophobic violence surfaces once again in Canada

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Four members of a Pakistani-Canadian family were killed by a man in a truck in what police are calling a hate-motivated attack. This photo, released by the family, shows the victims (left to right): Yumna Afzaal, 15, Madiha Salman, 44, Talat Afzaal, 74, and Salman Afzaal, 46.

By Jasmine Zine, Professor of Sociology, Wilfrid Laurier University

A Pakistani-Canadian family out on a stroll on a warm weekend evening was murdered in a horrific act of Islamophobic violence in London, Ont. A nine-year-old boy, hospitalized with serious injuries, is the only survivor of a terror attack that killed his sister, father, mother, and grandmother.

How will he make sense of this unthinkable tragedy? This was not an accident. Police have said his family — his father, Salman Afzaal, his mother Madiha Salman, his 15-year-old sister Yumna Afzaal and his grandmother, Talat Afzaal — was “targeted because of their Muslim faith” and hit by a speeding truck. How do you process this targeted hate and violence at such a young age?

While Canadians may be shocked and blindsided by this mass murder, the ingredients for this tragedy have long been in the making. The warning signs of white nationalist violence have been glaring.

Hate crimes against Muslims in Canada grew 253 percent between 2012 and 2015. The 2017 terror attack in a mosque in Québec left six men dead after offering their evening prayers. Last year, a caretaker in a Toronto mosque was stabbed and killed and the person charged with his murder is alleged to have been influenced by neo-Nazi social media posts.

Not just far-right groups

But it’s not only far-right fringe groups that hold anti-Muslim views.

Results from a 2016 Forum Poll revealed that 41 per cent of Canadian adults expressed some level of bias against identifiable racial groups, with Muslims having the highest negative rating at 28 per cent.

Another survey published in 2016, by the Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants, found that only 32 per cent of Ontarians had a “positive impression” of Islam.

The following year, a survey done for Radio Canada revealed that almost one in four Canadians would favour a ban on Muslim immigration, with the level of support for this ban rising to 32 per cent in Québec. Most respondents (51 per cent in Canada, 57 per cent in Québec) felt the presence of Muslims in this country made them “somewhat” or “very worried” about security.

A breeding ground for violence

These negative views of the Muslim presence in Canada create a breeding ground for xenophobic racial violence.

I research Canadian Islamophobia and its networks that produce hate and circulate destructive ideologies.

There is a networked ecosystem of Islamophobic hate groups in Canada that promote conspiracy theories about Muslims threatening “Canadian values” and western civilization, plotting to impose “creeping shariah law” and political Islamism.

Other problematic rhetoric includes the liberal washing of white nationalism that politically camouflages xenophobic, Islamophobic and racist ideologies under the guise of “protecting democracy,” “freedom” and the “rule of law” from what are regarded as illiberal, anti-modern and anti-democratic Muslims.

Once again, it is not just extremist groups that promote Islamophobia. Canadian security policies have targeted Muslim communities for surveillance and scrutiny leading to targeted racial and religious profiling . Bill 21, the Québec law that bans certain civil servants from wearing religious symbols, follows decades of policies mandating the coerced unveiling of Muslim women who wear Islamic attire that effectively institutionalizes gendered Islamophobia.

Anti-Muslim racism is normalized

Through these policies and practices, liberal Islamophobia normalizes anti-Muslim racism and constructs Muslims as suspect and inferior citizens.

My research on Islamophobia, spanning more than a decade, has underscored these and other concerns that anti-Muslim racism poses in Canada. I have documented the repercussions of anti-Muslim racism on Muslim youth in my forthcoming book Under Siege: Islamophobia and the 9/11 Generation.

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A man breaks down next to the caskets of three of the six victims of the 2017 Québec City mosque shooting. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
The 9/11 generation of Muslim youth have come of age at a time when their faith and identity are under siege. This is a condition that has been exacerbated with two hate crimes resulting in mass murder in Canada in the past four years. The risks for the Muslim community are palpable. There is heightened fear and anxiety along with grief and mourning.

The calls to action from the local Muslim community in London, Ont., include an immediate national summit on Islamophobia in Canada. This is an important step to begin the work that needs to be done challenging Canadian Islamophobia.

Call for national summit on Islamophobia

This summit should have been undertaken after the Québec mosque shooting four years ago. Canada’s national amnesia surrounding this attack was finally addressed with a National Day of Remembrance of the Quebec City Mosque Attack and Action Against Islamophobia. We now have another horrific tragedy to remember and mourn and yet very little action on Islamophobia.

For Fayez Salman, the nine-year-old survivor whose world has been shattered by this hatred, none of this matters right now. As a scholar of Islamophobia studies, I can analyze what kinds of social, cultural and political factors precipitated the racist Islamophobic violence that destroyed his family and permanently altered the course of his life, but in the end God only knows how Fayez will make sense of this tragedy. Our prayers are with him.

Source- The Conversation, June 8, 2021. (Under Creative Commons Licence)

“Australia as a nation utterly rejects racism and religious discrimination of any kind.”

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Federal Government appalled at rising ‘examples of discrimination against Muslim Australians’ contained in a report released by the Charles Sturt University

By Neeraj Nanda

MELBOURNE, 18 November: The Federal Government has slammed the incidents of Islamophobia in Australia, calling them ‘completely unacceptable’. A media statement today from The Hon David Coleman MP Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs refers to the report (Islamophobia in Australia-2- 2016-2017) released by the Charles Sturt University today.

The 2019 Islamophobia in Australia report suggests that hate incidents are not just a problem for Muslims, but will need national engagement if Australia is to maintain social cohesion and live up to its multicultural legacy.

- The second Islamophobia in Australia report cites 349 incidents reported in 24 months (2016-17)
- This and previous reports indicate only the ‘tip of an iceberg’, as under-reporting of hate crimes and related incidents is an ongoing problem worldwide
- Islamophobia is not just a problem for Muslims but requires national engagement if Australia is to maintain social cohesion

The 2019 Islamophobia in Australia report suggests that hate incidents are not just a problem for Muslims, but will need national engagement if Australia is to maintain social cohesion and live up to its multicultural legacy.

The report, which was led by chief investigator Dr. Derya Iner from Charles Sturt University’s Centre for Islamic Studies and Civilisation, offers a multi-faceted analysis of verified incidents reported to the Islamophobia Register Australia by victims, proxies, and witnesses in the two-year period of 2016-17.

A news report on the CSU website says, “The report shows predominantly Muslim women and girls are being targeted with verbal abuse, profanities, physical intimidation and death threats in public places, most often while shopping, and most often by Anglo-Celtic male perpetrators.

Insults targeting Muslims’ religious appearance and religion was the highest in both reports online and offline, with almost all women respondents (96 percent) targeted while wearing hijab.”

It adds, “The situation for Muslim children was particularly concerning and underscores the need for prevention strategies in schools.

The report shows that experiences of Islamophobic abuse start for children in pre-school years when they were accompanied by their identifiably Muslim parents.”

Intensity of hate rhetoric

The report shows the alarming intensity of hate rhetoric that groomed the Christchurch terrorist who carried out terrorist attacks in New Zealand earlier this year, as active in Australia three to five years ago.

Online and offline, people have detailed how they would like to murder all Muslims and yet there appeared to be no investigation or prosecution, raising serious questions about the fitness of existing laws.

Following the previous report’s trend, the most severe level of hate, wanting to kill and/or harm Muslims, was the most dominant rhetoric, consisting of one-quarter of the entire online cases.

Online, there were dynamics of contagion at play with online communities reacting to the perpetrator’s posts with supportive emojis, comments, and shares.

Sadly, the intensity of hate rhetoric was also present in physical cases, with 11 percent of the 202 offline cases including death threats.

The fact some Australian Muslims could not go about their ordinary life without receiving a death threat from a stranger opens serious questions about how Muslim identity has been publicly crafted.

‘Tip of the iceberg’

Dr. Iner noted that the number of incidents discloses only the ‘tip of an iceberg’, as under-reporting of hate crimes and related incidents is an ongoing problem worldwide.

“This is especially the case where continuous anti-Muslim sentiment in political and media discourse becomes normalized, desensitizing the public,” she said.

“With Christchurch in our minds, we cannot afford to be complacent.

“Social cohesion is something that must be nurtured and repaired by all of us for the well-being and security of Australia.”

The Hon David Coleman MP says, “Freedom of religion is fundamental to Australian society. Australians of all religions should be able to practice their faith free of prejudice. The instances of discrimination against Australians of Islamic faith which are documented in the report are completely unacceptable.

The Morrison Government has no tolerance for racial or cultural prejudice against any group. In this year’s Budget, the Government invested $71 million into a package of measures designed to strengthen our social cohesion.

The behavior outlined in the report is condemned in the strongest terms – Australia as a nation utterly rejects racism and religious discrimination of any kind.”

Dr. Sharif As-Saber, Associate Professor at RMIT University and a Member of the Victorian South Asian Communities Ministerial Advisory Council says,” Unfortunately, Australia is not immune from various forms of discriminations, abuses and vilifications. Religious and racial discriminations including hate crimes are just a few of them. It is better to acknowledge the reality while there should be concerted efforts by the governments and various community groups and religious leaders to combat and mitigate such problems. In other words, ‘engagement’ is important!”

The Islamophobia Register Australia is launching a crowdfunding campaign as it relies on community funds to maintain its independence. The next report will include data from before and after the Christchurch tragedy.

Copies of the report are available at www.islamophobia.com.au.