Canada’s new anti-Islamophobia representative begins community visits

World
Tue, 21 Mar 2023 8:32 GMT
Amira Elghawaby makes first stop London, Ontario, where Muslim family was killed in hate-motivated crime.
Canada’s new anti-Islamophobia representative begins community visits

Amira Elghawaby makes first stop London, Ontario, where Muslim family was killed in hate-motivated crime.
Canada’s anti-Islamophobia official said Monday she chose London, Ontario to begin her first cross-Canada tour because a Muslim family was killed there in a hate-motivated crime.  

"The call for the creation of a special office to combat Islamophobia came from Muslim communities across Canada but most strongly from London Muslim communities," Amira Elghawaby said in an interview with CBC Radio. "I knew that I had to come to London." 

London, a city of a 404,000 southwest of Toronto, was the scene of a horrific crime on June 6, 2021, when a man driving a pickup truck deliberately ran down a Muslim family out for a Sunday evening stroll. Four people were killed and another was wounded. 

Elghawaby, who was appointed by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in January, said she will call out Islamophobic laws and discrimination wherever she finds them. 

She got off to a rocky start when it became known that she co-authored a newspaper opinion piece taking issue with Quebec’s Bill 21, which banned most public servants from wearing religious symbols on the job. That controversial bill effectively bans hijabs, or Islamic headscarves. 

She wrote that Bill 21 showed Quebecers were “swayed” by “anti-Muslim sentiment.”

She apologized, but Quebec politicians called for her removal just days after her appointment. Trudeau refused, and she remained. 

On Monday, she clarified her position on the Quebec legislation.

"Bill 21 does discriminate against people who wear visible religious symbols, and there is a disproportionate impact on Muslim women who wear the headscarf," she said. "As I've said and I will continue to say, that does discriminate; it does discriminate against certain members of Quebec society."

During her London stop, Elghawaby said Muslim women talked of their fear after the 2021 killings, where the pickup truck left the road and went onto the sidewalk to cut down the family

"I met Muslim women who say that if there's a loud sound as they're walking in the streets that they feel frightened," she said.​​​​​​​ 

Elghawaby said she will visit communities across Canada over the next few months.

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