Perpetuating Racism and Islamophobia in Canada

Mubarak Mosque Brampton
3 min readJun 12, 2021

On Sunday, June 6th, a Muslim family was attacked in a targeted anti-Islamic hate crime. 4 people were killed and 1 person was severely injured.

This act of terror is not the first of its kind in Canada. In 2017, a shooter attacked a mosque in Quebec City, Quebec. This incident left 6 dead and 19 wounded. In 2015, a mosque in Peterborough, Ontario was deliberately set ablaze. These overt and brazen acts of violence are horrific. These incidents are motivated by a misguided and false fear of the greater Muslim community. In a report sent to the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, the following statistics were noted:

> 46% of Canadians have an unfavourable view of Islam –more than for any other religious tradition; fewer than half of Canadians would find it “acceptable” for one of their children to marry a Muslim — lower than for any other religious group;
> 56% of Canadians believe that Islam suppresses women’s rights; more than half of people living in Ontario feel mainstream Muslim doctrines promote violence;
> 52% of Canadians feel that Muslims can only be trusted “a little” or “not at all”;
> 42% of Canadians think discrimination against Muslims is “mainly their fault”;
> 47% of Canadians support banning headscarves in public (compared with 30% of Americans);
> 51% support government surveillance of mosques (as compared to 46% of Americans);

The same report states that “Islam and Muslims receive disproportionately negative coverage-”. Violent crimes with a seemingly Muslim perpetrator are much more likely to receive coverage than the same story without a Muslim perpetrator. Further, a Muslim perpetrator is more likely to be described as a “terrorist”, linked without evidence to a larger terror network, and defined by their racial or religious background. These characterizations are even more likely when the perpetrator is Black, Indigenous, or a person of colour.

This does not include other forms of discrimination including racial profiling by local police, intrusive CSIS data collection, and dehumanizing treatment at border crossings.

All these evidence points to a pattern of Islamaphobia and Racism in the media, police behaviour, and governmental policies. The act of simply being a Muslim or a racialized individual is criminalized by the institutions to whom we give our trust.

The Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw) once said that “Love of your country is part of your faith.” The family members who lost their lives in the terrible London, Ontario terror attacks were known for their commitment to the community. The daughter, Yumna Afzaal, had painted a mural in the basement of her brother’s elementary school and “was set to be asked to be a Grade 10 representative on the Muslim Students Association”. The father, Salman Afzaal, was someone who was “deeply involved in projects at the mosque”. The mother, Mahida Salman, had a goal of “getting a job as a junior engineer so she could work on “geo-environmental issues” and “contribute towards the reclamation of our natural environment.”. Despite the facts laid before you today, this family continued to help their community.

This begs the question of what should be done to prevent these attacks. The easy answer would be harsher sentences for those who perform hate-motivated crimes. However, I believe this solution is not supported by an Islamic way of thinking, nor is it supported by the evidence presented in the above UN report. The rhetoric that leads to such horrific actions comes from a place of fear.

With the device on which you are likely reading this article, google “Mosque Open House” or “Interfaith Symposium.” The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community holds such free events quite regularly. An interfaith symposium is an event where a panel made up of different faith leaders is given a stage to present the true image of their faith.

It is through these events that we can reduce the fear we have of other faiths and prevent such a tragedy from occurring in the future.