(January 26, 2023) 

Toronto, Ont—Today, we mark a historic moment for Muslims in Canada—a major turning point in this country’s fight against Islamophobia with the appointment of the Special Representative on Combatting Islamophobia. NCCM would like to acknowledge all those who worked so hard to help bring about the Office of the Special Representative on Combatting Islamophobia, which has finally become occupied.   

We want to congratulate Amira Elghawaby on being appointed the inaugural Special Representative on Combatting Islamophobia. Establishing this office was a major item on the list of recommendations produced by the 2021 National Action Summit on Islamophobia, held in the aftermath of the truck attack that killed four members of the same Muslim family in London, Ontario.  

We are pleased to see the Office becoming a reality and welcome this important step by Prime Minister Trudeau and Minister Ahmed Hussen.   

“This is the first time the fight against Islamophobia will have an established home in Canadian government. We look forward to working with the Special Representative on issues and items that have long been on the list of priorities for our community,” says Stephen Brown, CEO of NCCM. “There are urgent changes that need to be met, from better oversight for our national security agencies, to stopping our community organizations from being unfairly audited. We have a lot of work ahead and we are so excited that there is now an Office that can help us bring about these changes at the institutional level.”  

It is imperative that we all help hold each other accountable in the pursuit of change. We thus recommend that the Office tackle some urgent top priorities:  

1) A fulsome review of all departments that deal with national security in relation to Islamophobic past and present policies;  

2) working with civil society groups to challenge islamophobia in all parts of the country, including Quebec, where it is illegal to wear a hijab in certain places  

3) building a cohesive office that is built on the framework of representing community interests, never compromising to illegitimate asks, and razor focused on consultation with the diversity of our community  

Few are better equipped to tackle these issues more than Special Representative Elghawaby, whose storied career in anti-Islamophobia and anti-hate advocacy speaks for itself. Her experience at the Canadian Race Relations Foundation and at NCCM positions her well to understand the fight against Islamophobia and hate in Canada. She also sits on the National Security Transparency Advisory Group, which advises the Deputy Minister of Public Safety. Special Representative Elghawaby also has extensive experience in journalism, writing, and civic engagement.   

Islamophobia has been rising in recent years as mosques are consistently vandalized and Muslims are constantly harassed across the country. This cannot continue, enough is enough. We have much work to do and we look forward to working with all parties to achieve a Canada without hate.