By Barry Ellsworth
TRENTON, Ont. (AA): Muslim leaders on Wednesday sent a letter to the Canadian Parliament that requested the government institute measures to combat Islamophobia.
When the House of Commons returns next week, Liberal MP Iqra Khalid’s M-103, “Systemic racism and religious discrimination,” will be debated in Parliament.
They also asked that Jan. 29, the day a lone gunman killed six worshipers in a Quebec City mosque, be declared as an annual national day of remembrance.
The request for the recognition of Jan. 29 was in the form of an open letter to Canadian citizens and the government, according to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC).
The letter was read by the executive director of the National Council of Canadian Muslims at a news conference on Parliament Hill in the Canadian capital of Ottawa.
Ihsaan Gardee first thanked Canadians for their outpouring of sympathy and solidarity following the Jan. 29 killings, which also left 19 others wounded.
He then asked Canadians to take action to curb Islamophobia and listed suggestions for the federal, provincial and municipal levels of government.
“How can we work harder to stamp out hate against anyone?” Gardee said, as reported by the CBC.
The Muslim leaders laid out steps, including more money to train police at the community level about how to deal with hate crimes and public annual reviews of hate crimes.
At the provincial level, they suggested the creation of an anti-racism committee to oversee issues of racism and support education campaigns, as well as institute a course on racism to be taught in high school.
At the federal level, the letter called for all members of Parliament to support Motion 103, a bill to study ways of reducing Islamophobia, Global News television reported.
Haroun Bouzzi, co-president of the Association of Muslims and Arabs for a Secular Quebec, said: “We’re not saying Canada or Quebec are racist. But there are racist systems and sexist systems.”
Mohamed Yangui, president of the Centre Culturel Islamique de Quebec said the Muslim community is a victim of ignorance.
“We hope our government follows the recommendations in the open letter, not only for the Muslim community but for all communities,” he said.
At a second event in Montreal on Wednesday, Muslim leaders and human rights activists denounced the return of debate over religious dress in Quebec’s National Assembly. On Tuesday, the first day the assembly sat following the attack, political leaders paused for a moment of silence and again returned to a 10-year debate over whether religious symbols have their place in the public service.
“We are once again facing a message from the Official Opposition targeting religious symbols … a message that denies the existence of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and puts into question fundamental rights,” said Samah Jebbari of the Canadian Muslim Forum.
Additional reporting by The Muslim News
[Photo: Quebecers gather to pay respect to the victims of terror attack at a mosque in Canada’s Quebec City which left 6 people killed and 8 wounded, on January 30, 2017 in Quebec, Canada. Photographer: Muhabiri Amru Salahuddien/AA]