OTTAWA – Amira Elghawaby, Canada’s inaugural anti-Islamophobia official, is well aware of the respect and support she receives as a “visible” Muslim woman in her neighborhood. However, the lingering fear of a “tiny minority” holding misconceptions about Muslims and acting on these harmful beliefs troubles her deeply.
She expressed her concern regarding the security of the Muslim community which she expressed in a recent interview Despite the majority being respectful and supportive, the rise in anti-Muslim hate crimes in Canada remains a pressing issue.
According to her, the past 6 years have witnessed numerous attacks on Muslims as compared to other G-7 countries. Along with this around 71% of the hate crimes by Muslims were reported between the years 2021 and 22 to the police
To combat this alarming trend, her office is collaborating with various organizations to launch a practical guide on anti-Muslim hate later this month. Drawing inspiration from a European model introduced in 2020, the guide aims to enhance engagement between the Muslim community and law enforcement.
Key components of the guide include recognizing anti-Muslim hate as a harsh reality in Canada, emphasizing the need for contingency plans to respond to attacks on Muslims, enhancing security measures at mosques, especially during larger gatherings like the Muslim Eid festival prayers, and improving response times to hate crimes.
The creation of Amira Elghawaby’s role as Canada’s anti-Islamophobia official stemmed from recommendations made at an anti-Islamophobia summit following the tragic killing of the Afzaal family in Ontario in 2021. This family who had their origins in Pakistan fell victim to a deliberate attack.
The culprit Nathaniel is facing charges of first-degree murder attempted murder and terrorism-related charges and is on trial
Aamir’s role focuses not only on raising awareness but also on serving as a liaison, between communities as well as authorities and helping them convey their concerns to the federal government
She emphasized the importance of addressing the rise in Islamophobia in Canada, particularly with the ongoing trial related to the Afzaal family’s tragic case.
While Canada has specific legislation defining hate crimes, discussions persist about whether these laws are adequate. Elghawaby highlighted that any criminal act with a biased motivation targeting a particular community or its members based on their identity is considered during sentencing.
Amira Elghawaby’s tireless efforts symbolize Canada’s commitment to combating Islamophobia, and ensuring the security, respect, and dignity of all its communities.