Legal groups respond to Trump’s ‘Muslim ban’ and Islamophobia in Canada

Link to original article by Victoria Fenner for Rabble 

Canadians need to start speaking openly and publicly about racism, Islamophobia and xenophobia. That was one of the messages arising out of a press conference today by the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association.

The press conference happened in the wake of this weekend’s tragic and shocking shooting at a Quebec City mosque, and the executive orders by President Trump banning many groups of immigrants, especially Muslims and refugees, from entering the United States.

The speakers you’re about to hear are representatives from legal groups that launched the Islamophobia Legal Assistance Hotline. Launched in March of 2016, the hotline connects individuals who have experienced discrimination with free, confidential legal advice and information.

Each speaker will introduce her or himself, followed by questions from reporters. They have been lightly edited, with questions taken out only when they were inaudible.

Speakers:

1. Hasan Alam – Community Liason for the Islamophobia Legal Assistance Hotline

2. David Namkung – President of the Federation of Asian Canadian Lawyers of B.C.

3. Laura Track – staff lawyer at B.C. Civil Liberties Association

4. Lorne Waldman – Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers

5. Kate Feeney – B.C. Public Interest Advocacy Centre

The Islamophobia Legal Assistance Hotline was launched in March 2016 after a nationwide increase in reported incidents of racial and faith-related discrimination against Muslims in recent months. The number is 604-343-3828 and 1-866-730-0728. Members of the public can also learn about the service at islamophobiahotline.ca.

B.C.’s Islamophobia hotline responds to recent events in U.S. and Canada

Original Global News article by  Nathan Hutton

B.C.’s Islamophobia Legal Assistance Hotline is calling the recent attack at a Quebec City mosque, which left six dead, a “despicable act of terrorism.”

Hasan Alam, a community liaison for the hotline spoke harshly about Islamophobia in Canada, “These tragic killings are a harsh reminder of the fact that Islamophobia exists here in Canada, and Muslim Canadians are unfortunately often victims of it.”

Alam was joined on Tuesday in his condemnation of the attack by the president of the Federation of Asian Canadian Lawyers in B.C., David Namkung.

“The attack is a reminder that our country may be more progressive on many issues [than Americans] but we as Canadians are not immune from hate crimes and discrimination,” Namkung said.

Lawyers from legal groups, who launched the hotline last March, responded to the Quebec City attack, and the White House immigration orders temporarily banning passport holders in seven Muslim-majority countries from entry into the United States.

“We want to take this opportunity to add our voice as the B.C. Civil Liberties Association to the growing chorus of calls on the Canadian government to take action in light of what is happening in the United States,” said Laura Track, a staff lawyer with the association. “It’s important to remember that a refugee is someone who is unable to continue to live in safety where he or she is, due to the dangers of war, of generalized violence, or serious civil disturbance. Fleeing or seeking asylum is the only realistic option for these people and their families.”

Track went on to speak out against the Safe Third Country agreement, which states refugee claimants are required to request refugee protection in the first safe country they arrive in,  currently in place between the Canadian and American governments. The agreement currently prevents refugees from seeking asylum in Canada after being refused entry by the United States immigration.

Alam also touched on what he calls the increasing Islamophobic and Xenophobic rhetoric presented by the Trump administration in the United States and even during the last Canadian federal election, “During the last federal election a divisive form of Islamophobic rhetoric was used to single out Muslim Canadians as being a threat. In the present, Canadians are being further exposed to a similar but more extreme form of Islamophobic or Xenophobic rhetoric from the Trump administration in the United States.”

The hotline was started last March after a nationwide increase in the number of reported incidents related to racial and faith discrimination against Muslims. The hotline connects individuals with others who have also experienced discrimination.

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Islamophobia hotline receives almost three dozen calls since launch

Original News1130 article by Renee Bernard

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – It’s been six months since Canada’s first Islamophobia hotline was launched right here in BC.

The people who helped set up the service say it’s been useful in filling a void.

The phone line was opened because of an increase in cases across the country of Muslims being targeted.

Since the March launch, the line has received 32 calls, nine of which saw the callers get advice about pursuing their cases legally.

Sarah Allan is with Access Pro Bono, an organization that helps operate the service. She says most of the time people just want to talk about being a victim of racism.

“Sometimes it’s nice to have someone hear about your experience, having someone listen to something that happened to you. We do track the type of calls that come in. We can give advice about what to do about abuse.”

The hotline itself received racist rants.

“A lot of them were discriminatory or included racist language, which definitely reinforces the need for such a service. And when you hear from people who are having these negative experiences when they’re going about their day-to-day life, it shows a need,” says Allan.

Alberta’s Islamophobia hotline was launched about a month after BC’s. It received 53 calls in its 3 weeks.

Vancouver lawyers launch free, confidential Islamophobia hotline

Original Global News article by Yuliya Talmazan

People of the Islamic faith who feel discriminated against in B.C. now have a way to make their concerns known.

An Islamophobia Legal Assistance Hotline was launched by members of Vancouver’s legal community this morning.

They claim there has been a nationwide increase in reported incidents of racial and faith-related discrimination against Muslims in recent months. In January, more than a dozen Syrian refugees were pepper sprayed outside the Muslim Association of Canada Centre in Vancouver in an incident that police are treating as a hate crime. The suspect was never found.

Hasan Alam, a Vancouver lawyer who has helped to organize the hotline, says over the course of the last ten years, the previous Harper government utilized the rhetoric of islamophobia for purposes of fear mongering and justifying laws like Bill C-51.

“This rhetoric gave tacit approval for anti-Muslim bigotry and has contributed to Canadian Muslims, and in particular Canadian Muslim women, being more vulnerable to discriminatory treatment and hate crimes,” says Alam.

He says there is a serious lack of legal resources available in B.C. to those individuals who have been impacted by Islamophobia.

On top of that, Alam says, victims of Islamophobia often come from marginalized backgrounds. They are new immigrants who speak little or no English and don’t have the means or ability to access legal help.

“Often they are scared to reach out to law enforcement agencies due to their precarious citizenship status,” says Alam, adding the hotline will, hopefully, address all those issues.

The hotline service will be free and confidential.

Interpretation will be available in order to provide services in multiple languages.

The organizers say the hotline will cover everything from a defacement of a mosque, to a physical attack on the street, to verbal abuse at a bus stop, to denial of service at a store, to workplace isolation and bullying, to unfair targeting or profiling by authorities.

“It will cover any type of harassment, violence, vandalism, discrimination or other adverse treatment that someone suffers because they are Muslim or perceived to be Muslim,” said executive director of the Community Legal Assistance Society, Aleem Bharmal.

It will also help keep track of the types of issues that are being reported in order to better understand the scope of the problem in British Columbia.

The hotline is being run by Access Pro Bono Society of BC, a non-profit that assists individuals of limited means to obtain free legal services. The staff will receive the calls and connect those in need of assistance with legal professionals.

Krisha Dhaliwal of the South Asian Bar Association of B.C. says Islamophobia is not something that should only be of concern to Muslim people.

She says non-Muslims can be perceived to be Muslim, especially if they have brown skin, dress differently or speak a different language.

“I am sure we’ve all heard stories of Sikhs, for example, who have been targets of hate speech, violence and vandalism that was meant for Muslims,” says Dhaliwal.

She says the trend of Islamophobia is rooted in more than just the fear of one minority group.

“Today people might be concerned about Muslims against a backdrop of the unrest in the Middle East and the changing migration patters around the world,” says Dhaliwal. “But yesterday, people were worried about the Japanese against the backdrop of World War II and tomorrow, who knows what minority group is going to be in the hot seat as culture and geopolitics around the world change.”

The hotline number is 604-343-3828.

Members of the public can also learn about the service at islamophobiahotline.ca, which went live this morning.

B.C. legal groups set up hotline to help victimized Muslims

Original CTV article by Camille Bains

Legal groups and lawyers in Vancouver have banded together to launch a hotline for Muslims who have faced discrimination in British Columbia because of their religion.

The Islamophobia Legal Assistance Hotline is supported by various organizations including the B.C. Civil Liberties Association, the B.C. branch of the Canadian Bar Association and groups that represent black, Asian and South Asian lawyers.

The hotline is co-ordinated by the non-profit group Access Pro Bono, which has more than a dozen lawyers on its roster specializing in areas such as immigration, civil and human rights, and employment law.

They will provide free confidential legal advice for people who have faced harassment, threats or violence because they are Muslim or were perceived to be Muslim.

Aleem Bharmal, who works at the Community Legal Assistance Society and will provide his services as a human rights lawyer, said many victims of Islamophobia face cultural and language barriers and may not be fully aware of their legal rights but the hotline will give them better access to the justice system.

“This will cover everything from the defacement of a mosque to physical attacks on the street to verbal abuse at a bus stop to workplace isolation or bullying to denial of services at a retail outlet to unfair profiling by authorities,” he said.

Krisha Dhaliwal of the South Asian Bar Association of B.C. said law students have also joined the cause to combat discrimination against Muslims and other people of colour.

Dhaliwal said the groups started planning a hotline last year when they noticed an increase in calls from Muslims when the issue of whether the niqab should be banned at the swearing of the citizenship oath by new Canadians became an issue during the federal election.

At the same time, the unfolding Syrian refugee crisis spiked anti-Muslim sentiments in some parts of the country, Dhaliwal said, adding Muslims under attack are often too afraid to call police.

“We want to make sure that people know that at least they can approach a lawyer if they don’t want to go to police,” said Dhaliwal, who is an immigration lawyer.

Amira Elghawaby, a spokeswoman for the National Council of Canadian Muslims, said Muslim women who wear a niqab or a hijab are victimized more often than Muslim men but about two thirds of incidents are never reported.

“It’s rather unfortunate, but what we’re noting, and what Statistics Canada’s most recent data show, is that there is a rise in anti-Muslim incidents,” she said from Ottawa.

“Canadian Muslims are looking for and need support,” she said, adding there’s typically an immediate spike in discrimination after a terrorist attack allegedly involving Muslims.

“Right after the Paris bombing, within 24 hours there was a mosque in Peterborough that was fire bombed and a woman walking to school to pick up her children was beaten up in broad daylight.”

So far across Canada this year, 10 hate crimes against Muslims have been reported to police in Ontario, B.C., Quebec and Alberta, compared to three at the same time last year, Elghawaby said.

They include vandalism as well as verbal, physical and online harassment, she said.

New B.C. phone line aims to tackle Muslim discrimination

Original CKNW article

Legal groups in B.C. are tackling rising rates of Muslim discrimination by introducing the Islamophobia Legal Assistance Hotline.

The hotline will offer free legal aid to those experiencing faith-related hate crimes, which are on the rise, according to lawyer Hasan Alam who helped create the hotline.

He says it will also help Syrian refugees settling into a new country, where they may not always feel welcome.

“These people are coming into our country already so marginalized. They speak very little English, do not know much about, you know, how to go about accessing our legal system, and many of them are cautious about calling law enforcement agencies because of their precarious citizenship status. So providing something that’s confidential and easy to access and offered in multiple languages is of great importance.”

Sarah Khan of the B.C. Public Interest Advocacy Centre says they’ve heard reports of harassment, violent attacks, racial profiling, property destruction and threats from across the country.

The Hotline number is 604-343-3828, and a website with more information has been set up at www.islamophobiahotline.ca.

Islamophobia legal assistance hotline launches in B.C.

Original CBC article

B.C. Civil Liberties Association says reports of discrimination against Muslims are increasing

Legal groups in Vancouver are launching a hotline for people who may have been discriminated against because they’re Muslim, or perceived to be.

“If they are suffering discrimination as a result of that, they can call this hotline and get connected with some free legal assistance to help them determine if there is something legal they can do about it,” said Josh Paterson with the B.C. Civil Liberties Association.

The new phone line is being hosted out of Access Pro Bono B.C., a non-profit organization called that connects people to free legal advice.

Paterson says the hotline was developed by a number of legal organizations, including the BCCLA. He says there have been increasing reports of discrimination against Muslims.

“It can be anything from harassment, to attacks to allegations of racial profiling by police or national security authorities, property destruction — these are the kinds of things we’ve been hearing about,” Paterson said.

Faith-related discrimination assistance can also be accessed through the hotline’s website.

Islamophobia Legal Assistance Hotline launched in BC

Original Alameen Post article

Alameen Post is honored to be the only Muslim media present at the press conference to cover another milestone for Muslims of Vancouver.
VANCOUVER (March 9, 2016) –On Wednesday The legal community in British Columbia launched the Islamophobia Legal Assistance Hotline, after a nationwide increase in reported incidents of racial and faith-related discrimination against Muslims in recent months. The hotline will connect individuals who have experienced discrimination with free, confidential legal advice and information. The number is 604-343-3828. Members of the public can also learn about the service at islamophobiahotline.ca.

“Islamophobia can be experienced in many different ways,” said Sarah Khan, staff lawyer at the B.C. Public Interest Advocacy Centre. “We have heard reports of harassment, violent attacks, racial profiling, property destruction and threats from across the country. Islamophobia affects everyday Canadians as they go about their lives, their schooling and their work. As a legal community, it is our duty to pull together and ensure that people who affected by this racism are able to protect their rights.”

The hotline is being run by Access Pro Bono Society of BC, a non-profit that assists individuals of limited means to obtain free legal services. Staff at Access Pro Bono will receive the calls and connect those in need of assistance with lawyers who are willing to provide a free legal advice or information. Interpretation will be available in order to provide services in multiple languages.

“We want to help empower people to respond to this discrimination by making legal support more easily available,” said Aleem Bharmal, Executive Director of the Community Legal Assistance Society. “Many people who experience this sort of discrimination may not even know that there might be legal options available to respond, depending on what happened, such as filing a discrimination complaint at the Human Rights Tribunal. We want to make sure people can get the advice that they need.”

“Discrimination against Muslims, and people perceived to be Muslims, is an intolerable and ongoing reality in Canada,” said Hasan Alam, a Vancouver lawyer who has helped to organize the hotline. “The heated rhetoric of last year’s election built on years of divisive politics that repeatedly singled out Muslim Canadians and treated them as less worthy. This has made Muslims more vulnerable to discriminatory treatment and hate crimes. It’s important to make sure that people who experience this hateful treatment can access help, which could include filing a complaint or contacting the police.”

Krisha Dhaliwal of the South Asian Bar Association of B.C. added: “Anti-Muslim racism, discrimination and hatred affect members of many different communities in B.C. It extends beyond Muslims to others who may be mistaken for Muslims, including Sikhs. Lawyers and law students are standing together, shoulder to shoulder, to combat discrimination against Muslims and other people of colour.”

The Islamophobia Legal Assistance Hotline will also document, without individually identifying information, the types of issues that are being reported in order to better understand the scope of the problem in British Columbia.

The Hotline was launched with the support of Access Pro Bono Society, the B.C. Civil Liberties Association, the B.C. Public Interest Advocacy Centre, the Community Legal Assistance Society, the Canadian Bar Association – BC Branch, the Federation of Asian Canadian Lawyers, Western Chapter, the National Council of Canadian Muslims, the Canadian Association of Black Lawyers, and the South Asian Bar Association of B.C.

Website: islamophobiahotline.ca