B.C. lawyers launch Islamophobia hotline

Original 24 Hour News article by Eric MacKenzie

With reports of a growing number of incidents related to race and faith discrimination against Muslims, many local lawyers have banded together to provide support to victims.

The B.C. legal community launched the Islamophobia Legal Assistance Hotline on Wednesday, which will provide free legal advice or representation to individuals who face discrimination because they are Muslim or perceived to be followers of Islam.

The hotline will be run by Access Pro Bono Society of BC.

Calls to the hotline will be tracked confidentially to get a better sense of the types of attacks and who is behind them, said Sarah Khan, staff lawyer for the BC Public Interest Advocacy Centre, one of at least 10 groups supporting the initiative. The hope is that tracking instances of Islamophobia can lead to “systemic responses” curbing these types of encounters.

“We also want to send a message to potential perpetrators that the legal community cares about this issue and we want to try to help resolve (it),” Khan said.

“It would be a good thing if we’re not too busy. But we also want people to feel comfortable calling.”

Khan noted that the hotline had “no trouble” recruiting lawyers willing to offer their services pro bono for victims of discrimination.

The hotline number is 604-343-3828. There is also a website —www.islamophobiahotline.ca — that provides information in multiple languages. Translation services are also available through the hotline and Khan noted that lawyers speaking many different languages are participating.