Insults, hate messages, threats, indifference from authorities, six Quebec Muslims testified before a Senate committee today about the fear they’ve grown since the attack on the mosque and the passage of Bill 21 to ban religious symbols.
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The Senate Human Rights Committee continued its study of Islamophobia in Canada by holding a public hearing in Quebec.
“Since the attack on the mosque, things have gotten worse… Women who have become victims of hateful acts have decided to isolate themselves, withdraw from society, focus on their families and children,” estimates Laïla Aitoumasste, coordinator of the Islamic Center of Quebec. .
Mohamed Labidi, president of the Center, explained that $50,000 has been invested in the building for cameras and security measures. The person who saw his car burn estimated that more than 50 Muslims have left Quebec since the sad attack.
Unable to continue suffering “discrimination at work”, he decided to take early retirement from the federal public service after 17 years.
Mr. Labidi also believes that civil service examinations should be handled by people independent of the workplace to avoid cronyism in the awarding of jobs.
“Hate speech has always existed, but now it’s amplified by social media. In the absence of clear legislation, there is some online impunity. Islamophobia frightens and terrorizes members of our community. A hundred Islamophobic comments appear on the Internet every day. They are similar to the collective harassment of our community,” he regrets.
Mohamad El Hafid, a survivor of the mosque attack, is an information technology professional. An attack “that left scars. Hyper vigilance is now in place. Imagine the feeling of constant threat. It’s unbearable,” he says.
He also gave two examples of hateful comments they received at the mosque.
“Criticize no more, keep praying until you die and we’ll be like this.” “It will take more people than Alexandre Bissonnette. And next time everyone in the mosque. Congratulations Alexander!”
Mr El Hafid also condemned the “silence and even complicity” of certain elected officials “in the face of expressions of racism and Islamophobia”.
Saïd Akjour, who came to Quebec in 2007 “with degrees like most immigrants,” with a bachelor’s degree in sociology and a minor in education, was a teacher in Morocco for 11 years.
During his 10 years in Quebec, he “paid his bills” and was the recipient of a “rewarding job.”
The one who was injured in the attack on the mosque also condemns that even though his name is easy to pronounce, some prefer to “leave”.
He also said that during a discussion with a Moroccan colleague, his superior asked him if they were making a bomb. “It’s something no one laughs at and it’s a big discrimination from a superior.”
“Most (Muslim) women suffer” insults “from fellow citizens,” she continues. Drivers in RTC buses greet passengers as they enter “but turn their eyes to veiled women”.
Rýč also sent to outgoing Prime Minister François Legault. “He said there is no Islamophobia in Quebec. It’s like an ostrich burying its head in the sand.
Despite training in finance, Nabila Daoudi was only able to complete a one-month internship in her field. She has since completed training to become an educator.
In disturbing testimony, she said that when she asked a cashier at Maxi to implement a price accuracy policy last week, a customer in the back “insulted me, made death threats, gestures of hatred and told me to go back to my country. I can’t repeat his words to you.”
Ms. Daoudi, accompanied by her three children, called the SPVQ.
“For 45 minutes I insisted that they accept my complaint. They told me they were going to lecture him in the parking lot. There were witnesses, cameras. Finally, I had an observation. I’m going to appear before a judge because I called the police. My veil is politicized. I am asking to ensure compliance with the Charter of Rights and recognition of Islamophobia.
They also repeatedly said that racist Quebecers are only a minority. “But it’s an active minority,” lamented Boufeldja Benabdallah of the Islamic Center of Quebec.
“I am asking the federal government to take concrete steps. We like to live with people. By lashing out at people, we will reduce racism,” he added, pleading for cultural programs to explore Muslims.
Act 21 and children
Section 21 of the Religious Symbols Act, which is subject to the derogatory clause “violates the right to equal employment of certain women”, regretted the participants.
Its adoption “deepened” intolerance and hatred against them, said Samer Majzoub, president of the Canadian Muslim Forum.
“We love Quebec. My children were born here,” added Mr. Majzoub.
He insisted on “bullying” and stigmatizing children. “Parents call and ask if we should send our children to school. And yet we are in Canada.”
Check the problem
Rachad Antonius, an associate professor in the Department of Sociology at UQAM, first condemned the “destructive discourse of certain popular media”.
He also referred to some Muslim rights advocates who note that “for all the harm caused by Islamophobic discourse, the worst Islamophobes are violent Muslim extremists who seem determined to provide Islamophobic discourse with facts to back it up.” “
He insists it should lead to “a rethinking of the fight against anti-Muslim racism”.
Mr. Antonius says it looks like a “Catch-22. If we don’t talk about it, it doesn’t exist. If we want to talk about it, it is too sensitive, we must not talk about it.
Senator Amina Gerba highlighted the “courage” of Mr Antonius’ statement, saying she had “heard several Muslims who no longer want to go to mosques because they don’t know which one is extremist”.