Too many Canadians don’t recognize the Islamophobia in their country

Melayna Williams on Islamophobia:

Indeed, plenty of work has already been done to capture, contextualize and fully understand what Islamophobia means. A paper published in 2011 by the Ontario Human Rights Commission highlights the “negative stereotyping and discrimination as a result of pre-existing perceptions of Muslims as ‘different’ from the rest of Canadian society, along with negative associations of their communities with violence and terrorism” in the decade following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in New York City.

These problems even occur in institutions that pledge tolerance and inclusion, like Canadian universities. Following the Quebec City mosque attack, Muslim students publicly recounted incidents that are part of their daily reality: the defacing of posters for a conference on Islam at Durham College and the University of Ontario Institute of Technology; and the distributing of anti-Muslim flyers and insults on student election materials at McGill University, the University of Calgary and the University of Ottawa. A student at Simon Fraser University was told to remove her hijab, and horrifyingly, last year, a woman had her hijab pulled, was punched and spat on in a grocery store in London, Ont.

We don’t need more evidence—yet there’s still denial by many white Canadians. Exercising privilege in this way has clear detrimental effects, argues Tim Wise, an anti-racism writer and activist. “That white Americans don’t by and large see what people of colour see doesn’t mean that white folks are horrible people, of course,” he writes in an essay called “White Denial.” “What it does suggest is a degree of isolation and provincialism that should lead us to think twice before pontificating about a subject that we simply don’t have to know nearly as well as those who are the targets of it.”

This is why “recognition of Muslims as part of the fabric of this country is so critical,” argues Shirazi. Many Canadians have the luxury of not acknowledging racism, and they’ve done so to the extent that white denial has become its own narrative. Any attempt to ignore the problem—or treat its victims as “other”—undercuts any effort toward inclusion in the next 150 years.

Source: Too many Canadians don’t recognize the Islamophobia in their country –


About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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