Today marks the one year anniversary of Quebec’s mosque shooting. Last year, on this day, Muslims were gunned down in their place of worship, a mosque. There were over twenty five casualties. Six men were shot dead. Since then, there has been a movement online with the hashtag #RememberJan29. According to Mayor Frank Scarpitti, Markham, a city in Ontario, Canada, is one of the first cities to proclaim that from now on, January 29 is a remembrance day for the lives lost.
All of the above sounds great: a horrifying event happened and Canada took swift action. However, what most people don’t know is that recently, Quebec passed an “Anti-Hijab” law. The legislation does not have any words like “hijab” or “burqa” in it, but it clearly states that no one can, by any means, cover their face. If they do, they can be denied public service, transportation and even be legally persecuted. This is all in the same country where people are stereotyped to be extremely nice. Politicians argue that this was put in place for safety reasons and not because of Islamophobia, but the majority of women who cover their faces in Quebec are Muslim. Along with that, hate crimes targeting Muslims have slowly risen. In 2015, there were 60 more Muslim hate crime incidents than the year before, according to the National Observer.
On July 19, 2017, a vandalized Quran, the holy book for followers of Islam, was sent to the same mosque where six men were killed. According to Joël Lightbound, a member of the Liberal Party, hate crimes against Muslims have doubled in recent years. A few months before that, on Mar. 1, 2017, Muslim students, who were studying at Concordia University, were threatened by a man in his late forties. The man, Hisham Saadi, sent a fake letter, which stated that multiple bombs were placed in various areas of the university’s campus, targeting Muslims.
All of these incidents are just a few examples from hate crimes that occurred last year in Canada. So, Mayor Frank Scarpitti, while your city may be the first one to make January 29 a remembrance and action against Islamophobia day, every day should be an action against Islamophobia day. Canada, as a whole, needs to work harder to promote religious, cultural, ethnic and racial diversity. Quebec is just one province which has many hate crimes. What about Ontario, a province that fails to educate students about multi-cultural diversity?
Because of this, I implore Justin Trudeau to do more than issue statements about how Muslim hate crimes should not occur and are condemned. Along with Trudeau, Philippe Couillard, the Premier of Quebec, needs to do more. He’s failing to make Quebec a safe place for Muslims, which is rather ironic seeing how he is involved in the Liberal Party. The Liberal Party as in supporters of the idea of “enhancement of our unique and diverse multicultural community.” So, Trudeau and Couillard, not only are you failing your fellow Canadian citizens, but you are also defying one of the core beliefs of your party.