CAIRO – Alarmed by increasing hate attacks, Ontario Muslims have come together to plan a hate crimes workshop later this month to help Muslim women understand the crimes and report them to officials.
“We’ve been hearing people … heard negative comments directed at them because of their Muslim identity,” Sarah Shafiq, chair of the coalition of Muslim Women of K-W, told The Record newspaper on Monday, April 8.
The workshop, held by the coalition on April 25, was planned to help Muslims face increasing hate attacks.
It is being held in partnership with the Kitchener Downtown Community Health Centre, K-W Counseling Services, the K-W Multicultural Centre, and Our Place Family Resource and Early Years Centre.
It was urged after reporting an increase in hate attacks targeting Muslims and mosques in Canada.
For example, a taxi driver made a parting remark to a Muslim woman getting out of a cab in Kitchener, “Don’t go blowing any of us up, now.”
Another Muslim woman found a derogatory message scrawled on the dusty windshield of her parked car outside the K-W Surplus store on Victoria Street.
A third Muslim woman was yelled at by a Kitchener bus driver who called her ignorant and accused her of not knowing English.
Mosques were also a repeated victim for hateful messages.
In the spring of 2010, offensive gravity was spray-painted on the Muslim Society of Waterloo and Wellington Counties on Erb Street West in Waterloo.
A 21-year-old man and several friends smashed windows and spray-painted pentagonal symbols and the numbers 666, often referred to as “the number of the beast,” on the mosque.
Shaken members of the mosque spent $7,000 to $8,000 to beef up security.
In another attack in January 2012, a mosque in Canada’s largest province of Quebec has been vandalized, with anti-Arab slurs and a Star of David spray-painted on its walls.
Despite the rise in the number of attacks, Muslim women were still failing to report them to authorities to take action.
“The coalition felt the need to conduct this workshop because many incidences were being discussed within the local Muslim community but were not being officially reported,” said a news release.
These attacks include physical assault, threats, distributing hate propaganda, graffiti, firebombing and mischief.
Trying to measure the increasing phenomenon, the coalition has been collecting reports of “hate incidences” and decided to hold the workshop now “so it doesn’t get worse,” Shafiq said.
Therefore, the workshop will assist Muslim women in understanding what hate crimes are, how to report them and how to seek help.
Speakers include Lee Fitzpatrick, director of community resources for Waterloo Regional Police, crisis responders from Victim Services of Waterloo Region and Imam Abu Noman Tarek, resident Imam and counselor of Muslim Social Services.
Muslims make around 2.8 percent of Canada's 32.8 million population, and Islam is the number one non-Christian faith in the north American country.
A recent survey showed that the overwhelming majority of Muslims are proud to be Canadian, and that they are more educated than the general population.
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