TRENTON, Canada (AA) : Islamophobia is deeply rooted in Canada and on the rise, and Black Muslims wearing hijabs are particular targets, a Senate committee said Wednesday.
The Senate committee on human rights is studying the issue, and preliminary findings indicate that anti-Muslim incidents often are violent, more so than shown toward other religious groups.
“Canada has a problem,” committee chair Sen. Salma Ataullahjan said in a phone interview with The Canadian Press.
“We are hearing of intergenerational trauma because young kids are witnessing this. Muslims are speaking out because there’s so many attacks happening and they’re so violent,” she said.
The committee travelled across the country to speak to Muslims, including victims of attacks — doctors, teachers and others. The committee, which will produce a full report in July, said far-right and anti-Muslim hate groups are growing and so too are incidents of hate.
Statistics Canada reported last month that police-reported hate crimes “rose from 2,646 in 2020 to 3,360 in 2021, a 27% increase.”
The figures also showed that hate crimes targeting Muslims and reported to police rose 71% over the same period (eight incidents per 100,000 Muslims). There are around 1,775,000 Muslims in Canada. That works out to about 144 incidents. But Ataullahjan said the problem is worse and incidents go unreported.
The committee found that women are particularly vulnerable.
“Some of these women were afraid to leave their homes and it became difficult for them to take their children to school. Many were spat on,” Ataullahjan said. “Muslims have to look over their shoulder constantly.”
The National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) was pleased the Senate is compiling a report on Islamophobia.
It’s something that everyone everywhere needs to study up on,” said NCCM spokesperson Steven Zhou.
The organization recently sent out a news release detailing the hate incidents.
They include “hateful messages” sprayed on a Toronto mosque in March, a man entering a Montreal mosque and shattering windows with a shovel in April, a male “yelling Islamophobic slurs” at the Islamic Society in Markham near Toronto, also in April, and two Muslim women “held at gunpoint” in Kitchener, Ontario before the suspect escaped.