Hate crimes against Muslims in Canada up 60%, StatsCan reports

Group says Conservative rhetoric during 2015 election campaign helped fuel increase in incidents

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The number of police-reported hate crimes against Muslims jumped by 60 per cent in 2015 compared to the previous year, according to Statistics Canada.

New data released Tuesday show there were 159 anti-Muslim incidents reported to police that year, up from 99 the year before.

National Council of Canadian Muslims 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.

He stopped short of blaming the Conservative campaign for the rise in hate crimes, but said the campaign rhetoric was “a factor.”

Elgazzar said many victims of hate crimes do not report to police because they are fearful of further victimization or don’t think police will do anything.

He called on governments at all levels to boost funding for police investigations and data collection to better understand the scope of the problem.

Farhat Rehman, of the Canadian Council of Muslim Women, said there must also be more money spent on education to curb the “disturbing” trend.

“All levels of government need to step up with more resources and act quickly to allocate urgently needed funds to school programs and agencies involved in education, public awareness and prevention of conflict and violence in our communities,” she said.

Kathleen Harris

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