UCP slams racist letter to mosque
An anti-racism advocacy group is calling on the United Conservative Party to condemn Islamophobia after an Edmonton mosque received a hateful letter that included the political party’s logo.“On behalf of real Albertans, we would like to advise you that you and your religion don’t belong here in Alberta,” said the letter dated Jan. 30.“We are White. We are Christians. We are Proud,” the letter continued. “Our Premier to be Jason Kenney is going to take Alberta back. So adapt if you want to stay (sic).”The letter was dropped off at the Markaz Ul Islam mosque in southeast Edmonton some time in the last few days. The issue has been reported to the Edmonton Police Service hate crime unit, said president of the Alberta Muslim Affairs Council (AMPAC) Faisal Suri.He noted that the version of the letter he posted on Twitter removed some of the inflammatory and hateful language because he felt it wasn’t appropriate for public consumption.“We know … the United Conservative Party is definitely not directly involved in these things,” he said in an interview Wednesday.In a Facebook post, UCP leader Jason Kenney said that hatred and bigotry have no place in Alberta.“All Albertans must be free to practice their faith in peace,” he wrote. “To the ignorant fool who sent this letter, you’d best look at my long-standing work in pluralistic outreach, including all races, religions and creeds.”
He said it’s clear the letter is from a small group of miscreants.“In fact, I wouldn’t be completely surprised if the UCP logo was deliberately used in this letter in order to smear our big tent, tolerant party,” he said.But Suri said the UCP’s response doesn’t go far enough.“They need to come out and unequivocally condemn Islamophobia,” Suri said. “Islamophobia is real, anti-Semitism is real … hate, discrimination, and racism is real and it has to be recognized.”Premier Rachel Notley issued a statement Wednesday condemning acts of racism and Islamophobia. She also criticized Kenney’s response and called on him to take a stronger stance.“While Jason Kenney has said there’s no place for hatred in his party, racists and extremists clearly feel welcome with them,” she said. “This is a leadership moment for Mr. Kenney and a test of his character. I’m joining AMPAC and Albertans to say no more mixed signals, no more dog whistles, no more defending racist candidates and policies.”The NDP has repeatedly slammed the UCP, arguing that the party attracts extremists.In October, members of the Soldiers of Odin posed for photos with UCP nomination candidates at a pub night in Edmonton-West Henday.The UCP denounced the group. Kenney tweeted out that he was disturbed to learn the event was “crashed by supporters of the fringe ‘Alberta Independence Party,’ including members of hate groups.”He has said the party has a rigorous vetting process for candidates.In July, UCP nomination wannabe for Brooks-Medicine Hat Todd Beasley was disqualified just days before the vote because of Islamophobic social media posts including one where he called Muslims “fools who are really worshipping Satan.”Suri said the letter is “very un-Canadian” and pointed to the outpouring of support for Canadian Muslims after crimes such as the 2017 Quebec City mosque shooting that killed six people and injured 19 others.Hundreds of people gathered in front of the Alberta legislature for a vigil following the shooting.“We’re not concerned at all with how the city, how the province, how Canada reacts,” Suri said.But the escalation of behaviour is concerning, he added.In January, police investigated after members of an anti-Islamic group showed up at Al Rashid Mosque and confronted people arriving for Friday prayers.A spokeswoman for the mosque said two men appeared to be scouting the building. One of the men was wearing a tuque printed with the Arabic word for ‘infidel.’No arrests were made. EPS said the hate crimes and violent extremism unit was consulted in the investigation.
A hateful letter was dropped off at the Markaz Ul Islam mosque in Edmonton sometime in the last few days.
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