NCCM: Canadian Muslims deeply disappointed by Stephen Harper’s refusal to condemn Islamophobia

-For Immediate Release-

(Ottawa – October 7, 2015) The National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM), a prominent Muslim civil liberties & advocacy organization, says that Stephen Harper’s refusal to condemn Islamophobic incidents during the election campaign is profoundly disappointing to Canadian Muslim communities.

During an interview with CBC News on October 6th, host Rosemary Barton specifically asked Mr. Harper for his response to recent incidents of assault against Muslim women in light of election campaigning about the niqab and citizenship oaths.  Instead of condemning these incidents and Islamophobia, Mr. Harper stated: “Look, I don’t think you can use that kind of thing [i.e. the assaults against Muslim women] to discredit legitimate political debate. Violence against women is unacceptable, which is why our government has brought forward laws to crack down on violence.”

“Mr. Harper’s refusal to categorically denounce recent Islamophobic acts of assault against Muslim women and his dismissive stance towards this issue are profoundly disappointing and discouraging to Canadian Muslims.  Our leaders should take an unequivocal stand against bigotry and hate-motivated crimes against Muslims,” says NCCM Executive Director Ihsaan Gardee.

“Canadian Muslims have noticed Mr. Harper’s choice of words and question whether he would have taken the same stance if these were bigoted attacks against other minority communities.

“We urge Mr. Harper to reassure Canadian Muslims and condemn Islamophobia and affirm that it has no place in Canadian society or in our political discourse,” says Gardee.

NCCM has received several reports of Muslim women being verbally or physically assaulted in the last month, including a new report of a disabled Muslim 19-year-old woman who was verbally threatened at an Ottawa shopping centre. The incident has been reported to police.

Statistics Canada’s most recent figures for 2013 show a 44% spike in the number of hate crimes reported against Muslims in Canada, the only category that saw an increase.