"The best way to combat hatred is through education, solidarity with those under attack, and by raising our voices to be louder than the hate." ― Larry Brown, NUPGE President
Ottawa (29 Jan. 2020) ― January 29 marks the 3rd anniversary of the terrorist attack at the Islamic Cultural Centre in Ste-Foy. The attack was one of the worst domestic terrorist attacks in Canada since the Montreal massacre in 1989.
We must all honour their memories
Shortly after the start of evening prayers, a shooter entered the Great Mosque of Quebec City in the Islamic Cultural Centre and began firing.
The attack claimed the lives of Ibrahima Barry, Mamadou Tanou Barry, Khaled Belkacemi, Aboubaker Thabti, Abdelkrim Hassane, and Azzeddine Soufiane. 19 others were injured in the attack and at least 28 others were forced to witness the horrific event. As reported by métro, witnesses called Azzeddine Soufiane a hero for running towards the attacker and trying to disarm him, saying he prevented further loss of life.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) encourages members to remember those killed and all those affected in the attack. We also ask all Canadians to reflect on how we can all be greater allies in the fight against Islamophobia. All of us have a part to play in rejecting discrimination, hatred, and fear, and must stand in solidarity with our Muslim friends, co-workers, and community members.
Islamophobia in legislation
In April 2019, Larry Brown, the President of NUPGE, sent a letter to the Premier of Quebec criticizing Bill 21 for othering public sector workers based on their faith. Bill 21 impacts several faith groups and is particularly discriminatory towards Muslim workers for whom clothing is an important part of their religion.
In his letter, Brown outlined how Bill 21 feeds into the fear and paranoia surrounding Islam and enables violence against Muslims. In the same year as the attack on the Islamic Cultural Centre, hate crimes targeting Muslims rose by 151 per cent across the country. Discriminatory legislation will only embolden Islamophobes and put more Muslims at risk of harassment and violence.
Education and solidarity
Honour the memory of those lost by taking a stand and never allowing this to happen again. Educate yourself on Islamophobia in Canada and be aware that Muslim women who wear the hijab or niqab are more likely to be harassed or attacked. The National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) have several Hate Crime Reports on their website, the most recent being the 2017 ODIHR Hate Crime Report, which catalogues verbal, physical, and online attacks against Muslims in Canada. NCCM also offer multiple training courses for community groups, schools, workplaces, and organizations on a broad range of subjects with the goals of sharing knowledge to enhance mutual understanding, and prevent discrimination. The Canadian Council of Muslim Women (CCMW) have put together a Digital Anti-Racism Education (D.A.R.E.) course on Anti-Racism Education. The online course is free and comes with transcripts of all the audio learning modules.
Call out hate speech and Islamophobic “jokes” when you hear them. Correct fake news about Islam and Canada’s refugee and immigration policies when you see it spread on social media. The Noor Cultural Centre has a resources page that contains links to resource papers, fact sheets, and books that help address misconceptions about Islam, such as their report Myths & Facts of Islamophobia: Responding to Common Narratives about Muslims.
Microaggressions and hate speech (in both the online and offline world) normalize Islamophobia and serve as a breeding ground for hate crimes and violence. "The best way to combat hatred is through education, solidarity with those under attack, and by raising our voices to be louder than the hate," said Larry Brown, NUPGE President. "Ignorance and Islamophobia have no place in Canada. Our unions work on behalf of members from every demographic and background. As unionists, we must stand up to Islamophobia and make our communities a safer place for everyone."
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 390,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. — NUPGE