CANADA: Terrorist attack made possible by normalisation of hate culture


The terrorist attack on a Muslim family in Ontario, Canada over the weekend could only have happened in an environment of hate jointly created by media, politicians and academics.

Police have confirmed that there is evidence that the attack which killed Salman Afzaal, 46; his wife, Madiha, 44; their 15-year-old daughter, Yumna; and Mr. Afzaal’s 74-year-old mother, was a planned, premeditated act, with the victims selected because of their faith.

The attack follows the murder of six worshippers at a mosque in Quebec in 2017, also motivated by hatred of Muslims.

Like its larger neighbour to the south, Canada has been been submerged by a raging torrent of Islamophobia in recent years which is increasingly manifesting itself in rising levels of hate crime against Muslims.

A 2014 IHRC report on hate crimes in the country highlighted how contrary to its perceived image as a model of multiculturalism, Canada is in fact founded on ingrained prejudices as evidenced most blatantly by the mistreatment of the First Nations. That maltreatment is a repetitive cycle that is destined to continue without significant change.

The report, “Only Canadian: The Experience of Hate Moderated Differential Citizenship for Muslims”, showed how politics, television, film and press have acted as highly effective vehicles for anti-Islam rhetoric and Muslims have been dehumanised to such an extent that they exist outside of the space where rights are guaranteed to them. The result is an environment of hate in which hostility, discrimination and even violence against Muslims is encouraged and even normalised.

Some 93.2% of respondents stated that they saw negative or insulting stereotypes of Muslims in the media and 61.65% had heard Islamophobic comments made in particular by politicians/high-ranking officials.

The latest attack seems to confirm official Canadian hate crime data that suggests the situation has not improved for Muslims or indeed other minorities since recorded hate crimes peaked in 2017.

Notes to Editors:

A summary of the Canada hate crime report can be found

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IHRC is an NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.
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