Canadian Muslims urge Immigration Minister to clarify controversial comments

-For Immediate Release-

(Ottawa – June 15, 2015) The National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM), a prominent Muslim civil liberties advocacy organization, today calls on Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander to clarify remarks he made last week which appeared to link Muslim women who wear the niqab (face veil) with terrorism.

In an open letter sent today, the NCCM urges Minister Chris Alexander to unequivocally state that women in niqab are clearly protected by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms in practicing their faith freely in our country.

“By suggesting that new Canadians are concerned about standing next to a possible terrorist, you unfairly insinuate that women who veil their faces are justifiably suspect. Your statement has been viewed by many as prejudicial and illogical as it erroneously implies that Canada would give citizenship to terrorists in the first place,” reads the open letter.

Minister Alexander made the ill-advised remarks this week during a media interview.

“Considering the recent release of police-reported hate crimes data by Statistics Canada showing a 44% increase in reported crimes against Canadian Muslims, our elected leaders have an urgent responsibility to choose their words carefully and to do all they can to bring Canadians together instead of dividing them,” reads the letter to the Minister.

“The Minister’s comments, following a sudden announcement that the government intends to legislate a ban on niqabs in citizenship oaths, signify a harmful approach to politics that scores political points by further vilifying and demonizing and already vulnerable minority community,” says NCCM Executive Director Ihsaan Gardee.

“Canadian Muslims have had enough of being framed as somehow tacitly, or overtly, supporting terrorism. This troubling political rhetoric alienates the very communities with whom the federal government needs to be working,” adds Gardee.

“We welcome statements of support by other elected officials and calls for the Minister to make clear his comments. We are hopeful and confident that our fellow Canadians will not accept any cynical attempts to divide them and pit them against one another.”

CONTACT: Ihsaan Gardee, Executive Director, 613.254.9704