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Senate Committee on Islamophobia: Muslims in Quebec are afraid

Insults, messages of hate, threats, indifference from the authorities, six Muslims from Quebec testified before a Senate committee today about the fear they feel more and more after the attack on the mosque and the passage of Bill 21 to ban religious symbols.

• Read also: Mosque murder: Bissonnet could apply for parole after 25 years

The Senate Human Rights Committee continued its study of Islamophobia in Canada by holding public hearings in Quebec.

“Things got even worse after the attack on the mosque… The women who suffered from acts of hate decided to isolate themselves, withdraw from society, focus on their families and children,” said Laila Aytumasste, coordinator of the Islamic Center of Quebec. .

Social media

Mohamed Labidi, the president of the Center, explained that $50,000 was invested in the building for cameras and security measures. Anyone who saw his burned car estimated that more than 50 Muslims fled Quebec after the unfortunate attack.

Unable to tolerate “discrimination at work” any longer, he decided to retire early from federal civil service after 17 years.

Mr. Labidi also believes that civil service examinations should be the responsibility of people independent of the place of work in order to avoid nepotism in hiring.

“Hate speech has always existed, but now it is on the rise on social media. A certain amount of online impunity exists in the absence of clear legislation. Islamophobia frightens and terrorizes members of our community. Hundreds of Islamophobic comments appear on the net every day. They are akin to a collective persecution of our community,” he laments.

Disgusting posts

Mohamad El-Hafid, a survivor of the mosque attack, is an information technology professional. An attack “that left scars. Hypervigilance is now fine. Imagine that you feel a constant threat. Life is unbearable,” he says.

Senate Public Hearing on Islamophobia in Quebec

He also gave two examples of hateful comments received at the mosque.

“Don’t criticize anymore, keep praying until you die, and that’s how we’ll be fine.” “It will take more people like Alexandre Bissonnet. And next time everyone goes to the mosque. Congratulations to Alexander!

Mr. El-Hafid also denounced the “silence and even complicity” of some elected officials “in the face of manifestations of racism and Islamophobia.”

Difficult recognition

Arriving in Quebec in 2007 “with diplomas from most immigrants,” Said Akzhur, a bachelor’s degree in sociology and a minor in education, worked as a teacher in Morocco for 11 years.

He was the beneficiary of “useful work” for 10 years in Quebec “to pay his bills”.

The one who was injured during the attack on the mosque also denounces that even if his name is easy to pronounce, some prefer to “break”.

He also said that during a conversation with a Moroccan colleague, his boss asked him if they were making a bomb. “It’s something no one laughs at and it’s a lot of discrimination from the boss.”

“Most (Muslim) women endure ‘insults’ from fellow citizens,” he continues. RTC bus drivers greet passengers as they enter “but pay attention to veiled women”.

He also sent a shovel to outgoing Prime Minister François Legault. “He said there is no Islamophobia in Quebec. It’s like an ostrich with its head in the sand.

Impunity gestures

Despite a background in finance, Nabila Daudi was only able to complete a month-long internship in her field. She has since completed her studies to become an educator.

In a disturbing testimony, she said that when she asked a cashier at Maxi last week to implement a price accuracy policy, a customer at the back “insulted me, made gestures of death threats, hatred and told me to return to my country. I can’t repeat his words to you.”

Ms. Dowdy, who was accompanied by her three children, called SPVQ.

“For 45 minutes I insisted that my complaint be accepted. They told me they were going to lecture him in the parking lot. There were witnesses, cameras. I’ve finished watching. I’m going to appear before a judge because I called the police. My veil is politicized. Please enforce the charter of rights and recognize Islamophobia.

Active Minority

They also repeated repeatedly that racist Quebecers are only a minority. “But it’s an active minority,” lamented Bufelja Benabdallah of the Islamic Center of Quebec.

“I am asking the federal government to take concrete action. We like to live among people. By talking to people, we will reduce racism,” he added, calling for cultural programs to discover Muslims.

Law 21 and children

The part of Law 21 on Religious Symbols, which contains a pejorative clause, “violates the right to equal employment of some women,” the participants expressed regret.

Its passage “exacerbated” intolerance and hatred against them, said Samer Majzoub, president of the Canadian Muslim Forum.

“We love Quebec. My children were born here,” added Mr. Mayzub.

He insisted on “bullying” and stigmatization of children. “Parents call and ask if it is worth sending their children to school. And yet we are in Canada.”

Review the issue

Rahad Antonius, assistant professor of sociology at UQAM, first denounced “the destructive discourse of some popular media”.

He also mentioned some Muslim human rights activists who recall that “despite all the harm caused by Islamophobic discourse, the most dangerous Islamophobes are violent Muslim extremists who seem determined to provide Islamophobic discourse with facts on which to base their claims. “

He insists that this should lead to “rethinking the fight against anti-Muslim racism.”

Mr. Antonius says it’s like a Catch-22. If we don’t talk about it, it doesn’t exist. If we want to talk about it, it’s too delicate, we shouldn’t talk about it.

Emphasizing the “boldness” of Mr. Antonius’ statement, Senator Amina Gerba said she “heard several Muslims who no longer want to go to mosques because they don’t know which one is extremist.”

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