National Post (National Edition)


61 suggestion­s released ahead of summit


A national strategy to fight anti-Muslim hate across society is one of 61 recommenda­tions released Monday by the National Council of Canadian Muslims ahead of a summit on Islamophob­ia to be held later this week.

The organizati­on hosted events on Monday in cities that have experience­d crimes targeting Muslims in recent years, including Quebec City, the Greater Toronto Area, Edmonton and London, Ont., where last month four members of a family were killed while out for a walk. It used the events to unveil its 61 recommenda­tions for policy-makers ahead of Thursday's national summit.

Mustafa Farooq, chief executive officer of the NCCM, told reporters in southweste­rn Ontario the recommenda­tions target every level of government and were compiled following consultati­ons with members of the Muslim community across the country.

“We need to see action and we need to see it now,” Farooq said. “Government­s attending the summit must know that we want more than their attendance, we want to see their commitment to timelines.”

More than half of the recommenda­tions are directed toward the federal government and include the creation of a strategy to fight Islamophob­ia within the civil service and the wider Canadian society. The group suggested Ottawa create a special envoy to deal with Islamophob­ia and to investigat­e alleged profiling within the Canada Revenue Agency and national security agencies, Farooq said.

Other recommenda­tions consist of amending the Criminal Code to include specific penalties and dedicated prosecutor­s for hate crimes involving assault, threats, mischief and murder. The group also wants the government to no longer require the attorney general's consent before hatebased and genocide cases are prosecuted.

For provinces, the recommenda­tions include teaching about Islamophob­ia in schools, an accountabi­lity system for police hatecrimes units and the prohibitio­n of white supremacis­t rallies.

In Quebec City, the announceme­nt took place outside the Islamic Cultural Centre, the site of a deadly shooting in January 2017 that left six men dead and others seriously injured. “The reality is Canada has suffered more mass killings in the past five years than any other country in the G7,” Farooq said. “This cannot be allowed to continue.”

Nusaiba Al-Azem, second vice-chair of the London Muslim Mosque, said the summit shouldn't be seen a one-off. “As we stand here a few days before the summit to take place, we want to use this opportunit­y to remind our elected officials that this summit is not, should not and cannot be the end,” AlAzem said.

“It's simply a means from which we expect tangible change to take place at all levels of government.”

Of the 61 recommenda­tions, Al-Azem highlighte­d one calling on the attorney general to intervene in all challenges to Quebec's secularism law, known as Bill 21. The law, adopted in June 2019, prohibits public sector workers who are deemed to be in positions of authority, including teachers, police officers and judges, from wearing religious symbols at work. It makes pre-emptive use of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms' notwithsta­nding clause, which shields legislatio­n from court challenges over violations of fundamenta­l rights.

The summit Thursday of community and political leaders, academics and activists is one of two this week aimed at fighting hate crimes. A similar meeting on anti-Semitism is scheduled to take place Wednesday. “The reality is that attacks on racialized minorities, whether it's attacks on Muslims, Indigenous folks, Black folks, Sikh folks, Jewish folks, it implicates all of us as Canadians,” Farooq said.

Calls for the Islamophob­ia summit came after Madiha Salman, 44, her husband, Salman Afzaal, 46, their 15-year-old daughter Yumna Salman and Afzaal's 74-yearold mother, Talat Afzaal, were run down by a driver in London, Ont., in June. The couple's nine-year-old son, Fayez, was seriously injured in the attack.

 ?? ALEX FILIPE / REUTERS FILES ?? Attendees return placards following a rally in Toronto in June to highlight Islamophob­ia that was sponsored by
the Muslim Associatio­n of Canada.
ALEX FILIPE / REUTERS FILES Attendees return placards following a rally in Toronto in June to highlight Islamophob­ia that was sponsored by the Muslim Associatio­n of Canada.

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