Canada’s unions: urgent action needed to end Islamophobia, protect Muslim communities

January 29, 2023

On the second National Day of Remembrance of the Québec City Mosque Attack and Action against Islamophobia, and the sixth anniversary of the horrific attack, Canada’s unions remember the victims and survivors, and continue to call for increased government action to address rising hate.

“This day serves as an important reminder of the lethal impacts of Islamophobia and the need for government and all Canadians to commit to taking action against hate for a safer and more inclusive Canada for all,” said Bea Bruske, President of the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC).

Data released by Statistics Canada in 2022 showed a disturbingly sharp increase in reported hate crimes since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The report showed a 72 percent increase in hate crimes largely targeting religion, race ethnicity, and sexual orientation. This data reflects incidents reported to police, however, many hate crimes and incidents of hate go unreported.  

Hate was already on the rise before the pandemic: Canada saw a rise in activity of right-wing extremists on the ground in communities, but especially online over the course of several years leading up to the pandemic. A 2020 report of findings from a study conducted by the Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD), which tracked the online ecosystems used by right-wing extremists in Canada, showed the growth and expansion of the right-wing extremist movement in Canada between 2015 and 2019. A follow-up report in 2021 showed an increase in activity of right-wing extremists on Facebook, Twitter and 4chan from 2019 to 2020, with the most common ideological subcategory of right-wing extremists operating across online platforms being ethnonationalist.

Ethnonationalist, xenophobic, racist and white supremacist ideology promoted by these growing hate groups has inspired significant violence and has had dangerous and deadly consequences for Muslims. High profile examples of violent incidents include the mosque attack in Quebec City in 2017; the fatal stabbing in 2020 of volunteer Mohamed-Aslim Zafis, as he sat outside the International Muslim Organization in Toronto; and the murder of members of the Afzaal family out for a walk in London Ontario in 2021. This is to name just a few as many other incidents of Islamophobia have followed.

Canada’s unions, along with anti-hate organizations and groups, community members and allies are awaiting the federal government’s introduction of new legislation to address online hate.

“We look forward to seeing government table legislation with sufficient consideration given to the needs of those communities most often targeted and disproportionately harmed by hateful speech,” said CLC Executive Vice-President Larry Rousseau. “Urgent action needs to be taken to confront rapidly growing radicalization, propaganda, hate speech and related violence as soon as possible.”

The labour movement will continue to stand in solidarity with Muslim workers and communities and work with all levels of government in its commitment to advancing anti-Islamophobia efforts and ensuring safer workplaces and communities for all Canadians.

Join us and show your support:

  • Join the National Council for Canadian Muslim’s Green Square Campaign to show your solidarity and support for the victims and survivors of the Quebec City mosque attack
  • Join or organize a vigil in your community or attend an online event or webinar to mark the National Day of Remembrance of the Quebec City Mosque Attack and Action against Islamophobia on January 29
  • Watch the “Islamophobia is” video series to learn more about how Islamophobia manifests and is perpetuated

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