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Canadians need to talk about Islamophobia, urges BC legal group

Last Updated Jan 31, 2017 at 12:25 pm PST

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Legal advocacy group pushes for open dialogue about Islam following mosque shooting in Quebec

Vancouver woman claims she had hijab ripped off her head, says BCCLA

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – A woman walking down the street in Vancouver had her hijab ripped off her head in recent weeks, according to the BC Civil Liberties Association.

It’s one of a number of concerning incidents the organization has been hearing about, and that’s why it’s drawing attention to its Islamophobia legal assistance hotline, which provides free legal advice and information to those who have suffered discrimination.

“It’s unfortunate, it’s upsetting, as it would be to anybody” says Hasan Alam, liaison for the hotline. “But I think it’s also a sign of the fact there needs to be some greater awareness raised in BC about Islamophobia and raising awareness about why it’s wrong and what people can do when they’re faced with it.”

Alam points to politics on both sides of the border as part of the equation for the rise in Islamophobia.

“The contributing factors behind this rise in Islamophobia are complex and many,” says Alam. “However, during the last federal election, a divisive form of Islamophobia rhetoric was used to single out Muslim Canadians as being a threat, and in the present, Canadians are being further exposed to a similar but more extreme form of anti-Muslim, xenophobic rhetoric from the Trump administration in the United States.”

Alam says Sunday’s killings of six men in a Quebec City mosque are a “harsh reminder” of the fact that Islamophobia exists in Canada. “These sorts of rhetoric give tacit approval for anti-Muslim bigotry and has contributed towards making Muslim Canadians more vulnerable to discriminatory treatment and hate crimes.”

The BC Civil Liberties Association launched the hotline last year following a rise in reported discriminatory incidents. The hotline number is 604-343-3828 and 1-866-730-0728.