NCCM expresses concern over ‘celebrate Islamophobia’ rally outside Toronto mosque

-For Immediate Release-

(Ottawa – February 18, 2017) The National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM), a prominent civil liberties & advocacy organization, is deeply concerned by a hateful gathering held yesterday outside a downtown Toronto mosque during Friday prayers.

A dozen participants held up signs that said “Muslims are terrorists” and “Ban Islam” while mosque congregants gathered for weekly congregational worship. At least one participant mentioned the proposed anti-Islamophobia parliamentary motion.

“This was a clear attempt to intimidate the Muslim community. Community members are deeply disturbed that such an incident would happen at all, let alone following the tragic killing of six men at a Quebec City mosque just a few weeks ago. Our communities are still in mourning,” says NCCM Executive Director Ihsaan Gardee.

Local neighbours and community members posted signs of support at the mosque, as well as organized quickly to confront the hateful paticipants. Mayor John Tory and city councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam tweeted out condemnations of the protest.

It’s unclear if any threats were made against mosque congregants. Anyone with information should immediately contact the Toronto police service.

“It’s critical that fellow Canadians confront hatred in our communities. Countless numbers of Canadians have already shown solidarity and support for Canadian Muslims in the wake of the tragedy in Quebec City. As we go forward, we must stand together against the forces of division and hate,” adds Gardee.

This hateful gathering follows, and appears to be a reaction to, a contentious week of inflammatory debate about a parliamentary motion that calls for the condemnation and study of Islamophobia, systemic racism, and religious discrimination. Iqra Khalid, MP for Mississauga-Erin Mills, read out death threats and offensive messages she and her office have received since tabling the motion.

“Elected officials must understand that their words will have positive or negative impacts on communities,” says NCCM Communications Director Amira Elghawaby.

“Differences of opinion should be based on truth and accuracy. Spreading fear and misinformation is no way to score political points. Islamophobia – the irrational fear and hatred of Muslims leading to discrimination, harassment, and violence – exists. It must be unequivocally condemned,” says Elghawaby.

The NCCM urges Canadian Muslim communities across the country to review its Community Safety Guide and to immediately report any suspicious activities to law enforcement and to the NCCM so that a record of these incidents can be maintained.

The NCCM keeps statistics on reported anti-Muslim hate crimes and incidents through its online hate crimes and incidents map.

Elected officials, public institutions and organizations are encouraged to endorse the NCCM’s Charter for Inclusive Communities launched in July 2016 to affirm that Islamophobia, racism, hate, xenophobia and bigotry have no place in Canadian society. The City of Toronto i.s the latest municipality to endorse the Charter.

Read and endorse NCCM’s Charter for Inclusive Communities here.