by Zamir Awan for the Saker Blog
A Pakistani-Canadian family recently fell victim to another hate crime against Muslims in Canada. Five members of a Muslim family became the latest target of anti-Islam attacks in Canada. The hate crime claimed the lives of four family members and critically wounded a child. Police said the victims were two women aged 77 and 44, a 46-year-old man and a 15-year-old girl. A nine-year-old boy was seriously injured and is in serious condition in hospital. The victims, all members of the same family, were hit on Sunday evening while waiting to cross a street in the city of London, 200km (124 miles) southwest of Toronto, Canadian news outlets reported on Monday. Canadian Police confirmed a 20-year-old Canadian attacker, Nathaniel Veltman, intentionally ran over the family with his pick-up truck in London, Ontario ‘because they were Muslim,’ killing four people, including a teenage girl.
Pakistan foreign office spokesperson said, “We strongly condemn the Islamophobic incident that resulted in the tragic death of four family members of Pakistani origin, in London, Ontario. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families. The High Commission for Pakistan in Ottawa and the Consulate General in Toronto are in close contact with the relevant Canadian authorities to ascertain the facts of the case and to ensure that the perpetrators of this heinous act are brought to justice. Our Consul General in Toronto also visited the family of the deceased to offer sympathies and condolences and all possible assistance.”
Canadian authorities defined the incident as a “horrific act of Islamophobia.” “This was an act of mass murder perpetrated against Muslims,” London Mayor Ed Holder said. “It was rooted in unspeakable hatred.”The Canadian Prime Minister has stated that Islamophobia has no place in any of their communities. Events like these further reinforce the imperative for the international community to work together for interfaith harmony and peaceful coexistence. In fact, Canada is a relatively peaceful country and hosts people of all nationalities, religions, races, and ethnicities. While Canada presents itself as one of the most liberal states under its Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, anti-Islam hate crimes continue to threaten both communal peace and Muslim lives in the North American country.
Like most Western countries, Canadian legal authorities do not define anti-Islam attacks as terrorist acts despite calling incidents by radical armed groups like Daesh and Al Qaeda terror acts.
The incident is widely condemned internationally, particularly in the Muslim world.
It is appealed to all Muslims to remain calm and cooperate with local authorities to fight against hate crimes, particularly against Muslims. But, unfortunately, Islamophobia is rising sharply in the Western World.
By design, few spoiler groups, nations, and individuals have launched a acompaing to distort the Muslim image. Islam is a religion of “Peace” and “Love,” but they have projected Muslims as Terrorists. In fact, they blamed Muslims for Terrorism and destroyed their countries, and captured natural resources and their wealth. The Worst genocide happened in Iraq, Libya, Syria, Afghanistan under cover of the War on Terror and shifted their wealth and natural resources to Western World.
There are around two billion Muslims; almost every fourth person on this earth is Muslim; although there are 57 Muslim countries, in fact, Muslims are spread all over the globe. The Muslim world is rich in natural resources like Oil and Gas. But backward in education and divided politically so became easy target for Western World. However, Muslims are a significant contributor to modern Science and Technology and the global economy.
There might be few criminals in Islam, just like in any other religion or race, but the overhelming majority are good people. Unholy media has been used as a tool to distort the Muslim image. Many people are converting to Islam, even in the Western world. Most women in the West believe that Muslims are the best Husbands. Most of the Western World depends on natural resources and wealth from Muslim World. Muslims living in the Western World are highly qualified, hard-working, diligent, competent, and contribute to the host country’s socio-economic development.
Islamophobia is an emerging phenomenon, and the Prime Minister of Pakistan has been highlighting it frequently in all possible forms. Therefore, there is a need for the Western World must understand the consequences of Hate against Muslims.
Here is a shortlist of some past anti-Islam attacks in Canada only (in the rest of the Western World, there are much more):
Quebec City mosque attack
In late January 2017, Alexandre Bissonnette, a 27-year-old university student and a former Royal Canadian Army Cadet attacked the Islamic Cultural Centre of Quebec City, killing six worshippers and wounding five others.
Bissonnette held similar views to New Zealand’s Christchurch mosque shooter, Brenton Tarrant, an Australian citizen, having far-right and white supremacist political views. The Canadian attacker was also a fan of former President Trump and French far-right leader Marine Le Pen.
The attacker was sentenced to life in prison. But, while Canadian leaders like Trudeau called the assault an act of terror, Bissonnette was not charged under the terrorism clause of the country’s Criminal Code.
The Quebec City attack has led to widespread public debate in Canada about why Islamophobic attacks motivated by right-wing political views have been rising across the country.
Abdullah Alzureiqi and his daughter Hala say a prayer at the fatal crime scene where a man driving a pick-up truck jumped the curb and ran over a Muslim family in London, Ontario, Canada, on June 7, 2021.
Abdullah Alzureiqi and his daughter Hala say a prayer at the fatal crime scene where a man driving a pick-up truck jumped the curb and ran over a Muslim family in London, Ontario, Canada, on June 7, 2021. (Carlos Osorio / Reuters)
In 2017, hate crimes climbed significantly in Canada to the previous year. But with a 207 percent increase in hate crimes against Muslims, anti-Islam attacks were much higher than attacks against other social groups.
Even after the Quebec City Mosque shooting, which the country’s leaders widely condemned, attacks against Muslims “peaked,” according to an Islamophobia report.
Attacks on other mosques
Canada’s Islamic worshipping centers have been the target of anti-Islam attacks during the last decade. In addition, hate groups have constantly threatened mosques since 2013.
In 2015, the only mosque in Ontario’s Peterborough was set on fire by a hate group. A year before that vandalization, another anti-Islam assault, which was prevented by the police, targeted a Montreal mosque. In 2014, the Montreal police found a suspicious package in front of another mosque. The police neutralized the package.
Attacks on hijabi women
In Canada, many Muslim women have long been targeted by hate groups. Some of those attacks have apparently increased after Quebec, the country’s French-speaking second largest province by population, considered a bill that proposed a ban on wearing religious symbols, including hijab, in public spaces in 2013. The bill failed to become law.
In 2013, several Muslim hijabi women were assaulted across Quebec as attackers forcibly removed their headscarves. Since then, hijabi women, including one pregnant woman, have been targeted by racist attackers.
Despite continuing attacks, in 2019, Quebec Premier François Legault claimed that there was “no Islamophobia in Quebec.” However, after a political backlash, he backtracked from his comment.
Canadian media has fuelled anti-Muslim sentiment, making the country’s Islamophobia-related issues worse, according to experts.
“Islamophobia is a direct result of the anti-Muslim rhetoric conveyed in the media,” said a 2019 statement by Canadian Muslim Alliance, referring to the country’s press organizations.
“We appeal to the Canadian, Quebec, and municipal governments to stand against this type of hate speech. Words matter,” the statement added.
There are many more similar cases, but not reported, not documented. The actual situation is grave and worrisome. Scholars, Intellectuals, Think Tanks may conduct research and case studies to evaluate the actual threat posed.
It is time to think wisely. Therefore, it is appealed to all sensible and peace-loving nations and individuals to promote understanding, coexistence, harmony and turn this world into a better place to live for us and our next generations.
Author: Prof. Engr. Zamir Ahmed Awan, Sinologist (ex-Diplomat), Editor, Analyst, Non-Resident Fellow of CCG (Center for China and Globalization), National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST), Islamabad, Pakistan. (E-mail: email@example.com).