20 hours ago
By: Sarah Watson
Hate crimes reported to the police perpetrated against members of the Muslim community increased 60 per cent to 159 incidents in 2015 from 99 incidents in 2014, according to data released by Statistics Canada on Tuesday.
It’s part of a worsening four-year trend of hate incidents against Muslims, which showed an increase of reported incidents by 253 per cent.
And Statistics Canada admits that probably just the tip of the ice berg, as most incidents go unreported.
“Looking back to 2015, it was a difficult year for Canadian Muslims,” said Khalid Elgazzar, the vice-chairman of the National Council of Canadian Muslims, in a press conference on Parliament Hill on Tuesday in response to the data release.
Elgazzar said events from that year influenced the social and political climate.
“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-woman,” he told reporters, referring to the federal election campaign where, he said, “former Prime Minister (Stephen) Harper made a woman’s right to wear the face veil at a citizenship ceremony the central issue of his campaign.”
Elgazzar said debates around Syrian refugees, as well as two terrorist attacks in France, “provide the backdrop for these figures.”
Overall, police-reported hate crimes increased five per cent in Canada from 2014 to 2015. Statistics Canada’s report stated this is “largely due to an increase in incidents targeting certain religious and ethno-cultural groups, specifically the Muslim population and Arabs or West Asians.”
The group most targeted by hate crimes are members of the black community, with 224 incidents being motivated by anti-black racism in 2015, the report stated, a six per cent decrease from 2014.
Jewish people are still the most targeted religious group with 178 incidents, a decrease from the 213 incidents in 2014.
Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said at a Tuesday press conference these statistics are “disturbing,” but do not represent Canada as a whole.
“This is the type of issue that you cannot be blasé or casual,” Goodale said. “Statistics like these demonstrate the importance of working at this every day and developing the right kind of healthy inclusive attitudes that will build the country.”
The data presented likely does not tell the whole story, as Statistics Canada estimates two-thirds of hate crimes go unreported.
“The number of hate crimes presented in this release likely undercounts the true extent of hate crime in Canada, as not all crimes are reported to police,” the study stated.