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Canada’s serious problem with Islamophobia, anti-Black racism demands action; Lives at stake

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)

By Richard Sudan 

 

For many years Canada has enjoyed an image which portrays the country as more tolerant than the United States and far removed from the surge in racist nationalism which has been manifesting across Europe in recent years.

Likewise, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is presented and thought of by many as a non-racist libertarian, standing in stark contrast to the many populist leaders which have occupied political office elected in various countries around the world.

But the notion of Canada being free from comparisons to other nations dealing with a rise in white supremacy and racism manifested in an increasing frequency of violent attacks, is contradicted by the realities being lived and experienced by non-white citizens, and in particular among Black and Muslim communities. 

The problem has been building for many years and has culminated in a series of deadly shootings and knife attacks which have left communities living in fear, while Muslim groups have demanded that serious action is taken beyond words. They also argue that certain crimes have not been investigated as hate crimes, when indeed they should be.

The most deadly and high profile case took place several years ago. In January 2017 in a shooting which rocked the nation, six Muslims were killed in a terror attack after a 27-year-old white male entered the prayer hall of the Islamic Cultural Centre of Quebec City and opened fire on worshipers for several minutes, following evening prayers. The impact of the atrocity reverberated throughout the community.

And, just last month in June 2021, four members of the same Muslim family were run over in a pick-up truck in Ontario in a hate fueled suspected Islamophobic terror attack, with the only survivor being a nine-year-old boy. The killer who has since been charged with multiple counts of murder was reported to have been wearing swastikas at the time of his arrest.

There have also been numerous other cases of stabbings and street attacks which have been taking place across Canada, and in particular in Edmonton, Alberta, where Black Muslim women have been subjected to a number of physical and verbal attacks. In late June, two Muslim women were set upon by a knife wielding white male who verbally racially assaulted them during the attack, while knocking one of the women unconscious.

While there has been a notable rise in the province of attacks on Black Muslim women wearing the Hijab, members of the community argue that many of the attacks which take place simply go unreported. The scope of the problem may be far greater than many even realize.

The list of examples of attacks is never ending, and many are demanding that the government do more than simply offer words of condemnation and statements of so-called solidarity with the Muslim community in the wake of the increase of anti-Muslim racist attacks.

But expecting serious leadership and action from Justin Trudeau, might be too much to conceive. He might say the right words at the right moment-sometimes. But Trudeau is a Prime Minister who himself has admitted to wearing Blackface in the past, on more than one occasion which is deeply offensive to Black people based on the violent history attached to it.

Trudeau is also accused of not doing enough to reconcile the country’s shameful past and crimes committed against Canada’s indigenous communities. And this is putting it lightly. The government has also faced accusations of actively pushing back against the fight for justice from those very communities, while Trudeau himself offers symbolic gestures of solidarity.

All of this paints a very different picture from the way Canada is often characterized by Western media. And for those on the receiving end, the lack of action means lives are at stake.

Anti-Black racism and Islamophobia is demonstrably rife in Canada and getting worse. Politicians not taking decisive enough action, while only offering sympathetic words and platitudes are therefore simply laying the groundwork and heightening the environment which allows violent racist attacks to continue unopposed and unpunished. And continue they will, unless something is done. Waiting for more dead victims, after which a killer might have a day in court is not enough. White supremacy in Canada continues to be a ticking time bomb.

Countless Muslim organizations and groups are highlighting the problem and are demanding action. The frequency and occurrence of these attacks is also clear. Canada is no different from any other country dealing with an obvious surge in racism and Islamophobia, and non-white citizens deserve more than the lip-service the issue is given by the political class. And they certainly need much more, than the weak leadership offered by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

(Richard Sudan is a journalist, writer and TV reporter working for Press TV.)

The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of Press TV.


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