Canada Canada’s government can’t be ‘neutral umpire’ in fight against Islamophobia: experts

06:41  23 july  2021
06:41  23 july  2021 Source:   globalnews.ca

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In light of an emergency summit on Islamophobia Thursday, Islamic scholars and Imams are saying that the federal government is going to need to tackle its own discriminatory policies before it can properly address the issue of anti-Muslim hate in Canada.

Speaking with Global News on Thursday, Anver M. Emon, director of University of Toronto's Institute of Islamic Studies, said that the federal government has in itself "explicit policies" that are discriminatory against Muslims and that the government can't be looked at as a "neutral umpire" in the conversation.

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"...those policies do have a trickle-down effect in terms of the culture of bureaucratic practices that infect the body politic, sort of like the virus we're fighting — all of us are fighting in this pandemic, but Islamophobia is a virus as well," said Emon.

"That's taking shape in a variety of ways at the formal governmental level and also infects our culture and our public discourse."

The summit, which was called in response to a recent string of violent attacks that have injured or killed Muslim Canadians, was hosted by the federal government.

Diversity Minister Bardish Chagger said that the event would be an opportunity for Muslim Canadians to give insight into how the government could stop such attacks and introduce policies to protect their communities.

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Speaking at the summit, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that Canadians should all be fighting for a country that they "all want to see."

Trudeau also called out the federal security and tax agencies among the government public services that he says should be doing more to put an end to Islamophobia in Canada.

"From the (Canada Revenue Agency) to security agencies, institutions should support people, not target them,'' said Trudeau.

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While Trudeau pointed a finger at these institutions as well as other levels of government and businesses to do more, his speech did not respond to a call from nearly 100 Muslim organizations for the Liberal government to reform the Canada Revenue Agency’s practices in auditing Muslim charities.

It's those same exact practices Emon and his team at U of T identified, alongside the National Council of Canadian Muslims, in a report looking specifically into how governments audit charities that are Muslim-led.

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Their report, Emon said, found that Muslim charities were brought into the "crosshairs" of either the anti-terrorism financing policies led by the Ministry of Finance or the anti-radicalization policies led by the Public Safety Ministry.

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"The minute you bring a Muslim charity into the crosshairs of either one of those two government policies, audits start looking like a very different beast," Emon said.

"There's not a lot of transparency. There's not a lot of communication. There's a lot of questions. There's a lot of digging in ways that seem inappropriate."

Kamal Gurgi, an Imam whose family was targeted in an attack in Hamilton, Ont., last week, told Global News that it's now time to "demand actions rather than talks of condemnation."

"We want concrete actions, we want practical actions to combat this hate," said Gurgi.

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Gurgi’s wife and daughter were nearly hit by a driver who was yelling threats and anti-Muslim racial slurs, according to investigators. That incident has drawn outrage across the country, including from the prime minister.

The incident comes just a month after four members of a London, Ont., family were killed in what police have called a targeted attack on the Muslim community.

Gurgi hopes that the summit will provide not just the Muslim community but all communities some concrete steps to stop discrimination.

"So this is the demand of most Canadians that we should act rather than talk about it," said Gurgi.

"We should act upon stopping this kind of hate, this kind of bigotry, this kind of discrimination."

-- With files from the Canadian Press and Mike Drolet

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