Rise in Montreal hate crimes just ‘tip of the iceberg,’ activist says

By Kate McKenna & Benjamin Shingler
CBC News | June 13, 2017

The latest figures showing an increase in reported hate crimes in Montreal, particularly those targeting Muslims, are just the “tip of the iceberg,” according to one of the city’s leading anti-racism activists.

Haroun Bouazzi said the new report from Statistics Canada underscores the challenge ahead in Montreal and across the country in dealing with racist views.

“We have been seeing in the field, from the reports we’re getting, from the calls we’re getting, from victims, that hate crimes are actually on the rise. We’re noticing also that most people don’t go to the police,” Bouazzi, co-president of the Association of Muslims and Arabs for a Secular Quebec, said in an interview Tuesday.

. . .

In 2015, police services increased outreach to ethnic groups, while the National Council of Canadian Muslims made efforts to encourage the reporting of hate crimes to police.

The group’s vice-chairman, Khalid Elgazzar, called 2015 a “difficult year” for Muslim Canadians, as two terrorist attacks in France inflamed anti-Muslim sentiment and former prime minister Stephen Harper made a woman’s right to wear a veil at citizenship ceremonies a “central issue” of the election campaign.

“The Canadian Muslim community bore the brunt of sinister political rhetoric surrounding the federal election which painted Muslims as terrorists or terrorist sympathizers as well as being anti-women,” he said during a news conference on Parliament Hill.

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