‘Islamophobia’ fears cited in Canada

Smashed mosque windows and workers losing their jobs because of their ethnic background, are among signs that anti-Arab sentiment is on the rise in Ontario, the Ontario Human Rights Commission said yesterday.

Chief commissioner Barbara Hall expressed dismay at an increase in “Islamophobia” in Ontario, as she released the commission’s annual report at a news conference at the Ontario legislature. “We continue to hear … from Arab and Muslim communities on increasing incidents of discrimination,” Hall said. Chief among her concerns was an attack on a Toronto mosque just two days after police arrested 17 people earlier this month, who were allegedly planning to stage terrorist attacks in southern Ontario.

Hall also cited a group of cases in which complainants with dual citizenship from countries other than the United States, claimed they were discriminated against by employees at a company that makes defence equipment for several countries, including the U.S. The employees were reassigned and even fired in some cases, possibly because they were seen as a potential threat to the company’s security, Hall suggested.

“The allegations remind us that society must balance security measures in a manner that does not compromise human rights protections.”

The agency did not provide precise statistics, but Hall said there was “an enormous increase” in Ontario – even if people who are affected are at times hesitant to speak out publicly. Incidents of “Islamophobia” were among the 2,399 new complaints filed with the Ontario Human Rights Commission during the past year, the report found.

London Free Press, 30 June 2006

See also the Muslim News, 30 June 2006