Canada is holding a national summit to fight Islamophobia. Canada is a federal country with a population of 37.59 million, 3.2 % of which are Muslims; Islam is the second-largest religion in Canada. But Canadian Muslims have lately experienced atrocities ranging from killing, street assault, and stark threats. And as recent as two weeks ago, four members of the same family were killed deliberately in one of the country’s cities.
It’s been hard to stomach the tragic incident. Four innocent civilians of the same family lost their lives. Why were they killed? Every sane person agonizes over the horrific killing, which has outraged all Canadians and compelled their government to hold a national summit on Islamophobia.
The individual that murdered the Muslim family members is facing terrorism charges. A statement issued by police indicated that his four counts of first-degree murder “constitute terrorism offenses.” So both federal and provincial prosecutors are pushing for terrorism proceedings.
What’s Islamophobia? It’s to be fearful of Islam and Muslims. While Islam is a peaceful religion, some people see it as a threat. Hence, they disdain the religion and its followers. To prevent further atrocities inflicted on Muslims, Canada will hold a national summit on Islamophobia.
A mosque in which the murdered family members used to pray initiated the summit. This is the London Ontario mosque where the deceased Afzal family members congregated. Other organizations have built on the idea and called on Canada to hold a national conference aimed at fighting Islamophobia. The National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) is one of them. It circulated a petition signed by thousands of Muslims.
Many Muslim and human rights groups backed the initial call for the Islamophobia conference. They’ve urged government levels to convene quickly and come up with concrete procedures that curb and fight Islamophobia. However, the Canadian ministry responsible for diversity and inclusion said the summit’s details and agendas are not yet finalized, but stated that concrete actions will be taken to combat phobia.
Muslims have been part of Canadian society’s fabric for generations. Only after four years of Canada’s independence (1867), a conducted census found 13 Muslims among the population. Since then, they’ve kept coming to the country and increased gradually. Indeed, Muslims have been in Canada for more than 150 years. That’s a sheer fact. “The community’s real history in this country actually begins 150 years ago,” said Hassam Munir, an Islamic history researcher and founder of iHistory.
First Muslims entered the country from Europe and the Middle East. They established businesses and initiated organizations. Immigrants from Lebanon registered the first Muslim organizations in 1934 in Regina, Saskatchewan. And the first mosque in Canada was built in Edmonton, in 1938. This is the Alrashid mosque, which is now part of the Museum at Fort Edmonton Park. At the time, about 700 Muslims were living in the country, according to some sources.
After European immigration preferences were removed in the late 1960s and early 1970s, Muslims began immigrating to Canada in big numbers, coming from all parts of the world. Like any other community, they’ve kept coming to the country ever since, as Canada is a federal country built on immigration.
Muslims contribute to all facets of life in the country and work in all industries. They’re productive members of society and peaceful citizens. Hence, Canadian Muslims don’t deserve to be marginalized or murdered. Doing so tarnishes the country’s image and what it stands for. There are hundreds of diverse communities in Canada, and all deserve to live in peace and stability. Apart from the two official languages (English & French) in Canada, 196 ethnic languages are reported as being used in the country.
The brewing summit on Islamophobia is expected to bring forth solid policies that’ll combat the phobia to ease Muslims’ fear and frustration. Although it’s tough to uproot some deep-rooted phenomenon overnight, the Canadian government is committed to fighting Islamophobia so that the country’s Muslim population can live in tranquility. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has vehemently denounced and condemned Islamophobia and shamed those who fuel and inflame it.