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Imam says rise in hate crimes across Canada 'not surprising', worries U.S. tensions spilling over

Last Updated Nov 29, 2018 at 11:17 am PDT

(Courtesy Masjid al-Salaam via Facebook)

Reported number of hate-related crimes have spiked nation-wide, according to Statistics Canada

Imam says he's not surprised number of reported hate crimes have spiked, worries racial tensions in U.S. spilling over

BURNABY (NEWS 1130) – New numbers out of Statistics Canada show the number of reported hate-related crimes has spiked to an all-time high.

The agency says hate crimes targeting people from the Black, Jewish and Muslim communities account for most of the increases nation-wide, something that doesn’t completely surprise one religious leader.

“This is something that we have unfortunately been witness to over the years,” Imam Yahya Momla with the Masjid al-Salaam in Burnaby explains. “However, I do understand that these hate crimes, they’re perpetrated by a minority of the general community, so it’s not something we’re extremely worried about. However, we are vigilant in this regard.”

According to Statistics Canada, incidents involving Muslims more than doubled between 2016 and 2017, one year after police reported a decrease in hate crimes targeting that population.

Hate crimes targeting black people accounted for 16 per cent of all hate crimes in Canada in 2017. They stayed the most common type of race- or ethnicity-related hate crime.

Meantime, hate crimes targeting Jews increased for the second consecutive year and accounted for 18 per cent of all hate crimes nationally.

Imam Momla points out much of the hate-related incidents involve verbal insults, things like people being told to “go back to their country” or aggressors hurling insults at women wearing hijabs.

The biggest increases in reported crimes appear to be non-violent in nature, things like graffiti and vandalism targeting the groups aforementioned.

Momla says many of the victims who are the targets of these kinds of crimes are often people who are new to the country, “people who may be feeling shy or out of place here in Canada.”

He tries to remind people of the positives when it comes to their fellow Canadians, and adds it’s important for everyone to get engaged with the communities around them.

“And make them feel that they are at home.”

Admitting he’s no expert on the subject, Momla worries the spike in the number of reported hate crimes may be a result of growing racial tensions in the U.S. spilling over the border.

He believes many Canadians aren’t actually aware of the racism that exists in Canada, “just because it’s such a fringe minority of the general community that engages in this type of behaviour.”

The Imam says he’s personally come across some individuals who’ve experienced hate crimes and adds they can have lasting impacts on a person’s life.