January 30, 2017
Independent Jewish Voices Canada (IJV) joins with Canadians across the country to condemn the horrific shootings at the Québec Islamic Cultural Centre in Québec City. Six men were killed in cold blood, leaving their children without fathers, and their spouses with no partners. Five others at the mosque were seriously injured. Last July, during Ramadan, a gift-wrapped bloody pig’s head was left on the mosque’s steps.
This is the first time Muslim Canadians have been killed or hurt in attacks at their places of worship. But across Canada, there have been at least five attacks or threats on mosques in the last four years.
- In Sydney, NS, a welcome sign in front of a mosque was destroyed. The sign had read “Welcome to Sydney: Love for all, Hatred for none.”
- In Guelph, Ont. the Guelph Muslim Society mosque was sprayed with graffiti, and its windows defaced with “U R dead. Go Home. “
- In Saguenay, Québec a mosque was vandalized with pig’s blood.
- A fire was deliberately set in the Masjid Al-Salaam mosque in Peterborough, Ont. A pig’s head was left at the mosque.
- There was a bomb threat, then an evacuation of a North Vancouver mosque.
It is easy to lay the blame on Trump’s election and his recent order to bar Muslims from seven countries from entering the US. But we have to look deeper than that. For more than a decade Canadians saw a right-wing Conservative government led by Stephen Harper pursue an anti-Muslim agenda. In 2011, Harper insisted that the biggest threat to Canada was “Islamicism”. Harper’s government passed the Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act, clearly aimed at scapegoating Muslims. In addition, that government created a snitchline for “old stock” (Harper’s words) Canadian callers to use to report suspicious activity to Immigration and Customs Enforcement. On the election trail in 2015, Harper promised to ban the niqab for those who work in the federal public service. His government had already adopted a rule requiring those wearing the niqab to remove it before they could participate in citizenship ceremonies.
This brief look at Canada’s recent political past shows that many Canadians, including some of our most prominent public figures, feel free to engage in attacks against Muslims, and denigrate their religious and cultural customs.
The murderous attack on the mosque in Québec City provides horrible evidence that these attacks contribute to an environment in which hatred and bigotry flourish. IJV calls on all Canadians to take a strong stand against this bigotry by opposing Islamophobia so that even those who engage in it casually understand that their words contribute to creating an environment in which such hatred manifests itself.