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

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.

RELEASE: Islamophobia Legal Assistance Hotline launched by legal community

VANCOUVER (March 9, 2016) – Today 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.

-30-

Media Contacts

Hasan Alam – 778 995 6786
Zool Suleman – 604 685 8472

Website: islamophobiahotline.ca

Here’s A List Of Anti-Muslim Acts Reported In Canada Since The Paris Attacks

Originally published on BuzzFeed News by Ishmael N. Daro

Incidents of harassment, intimidation, and violence against Muslims have spiked.

There has been an apparent rise in anti-Muslim incidents in Canada following the terrorist attacks in Paris that killed at least 129 people.

There has been an apparent rise in anti-Muslim incidents in Canada following the terrorist attacks in Paris that killed at least 129 people.

Thomas Samson / AFP / Getty Images

BuzzFeed Canada has compiled reports of intimidation, vandalism, and violence against members of the Canadian Muslim community since the attacks.

1. Arson attack on the only mosque in Peterborough, Ontario

Arson attack on the only mosque in Peterborough, Ontario

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Christopher Katsarov

A day after the attacks in Paris, the Masjid Al-Salaam mosque in Peterborough was deliberately set on fire in what police are investigating as a possible hate crime.

The fire started around 11 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 14. Although nobody was inside at the time, members of the Kawartha Muslim Religious Association had been celebrating the birth of a baby there less than an hour earlier.

The fire caused an estimated $80,000 in damage. An online fundraising campaign to help pay for repairs to the damaged Peterborough mosque raised more than $110,000 in less than a week. The KMRA has said it only plans to use the required funds for repairs, and to donate any additional funds to charity.

According to CBC News, there has been one previous attack on a KMRA mosque since the organization’s founding in 1994, when a previous mosque building’s windows were smashed after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

2. Threats to kill “one Arab a week” in Quebec

Threats to kill "one Arab a week" in Quebec

Screengrab / BuzzFeed Canada

Montreal police arrested and charged 24-year-old Jesse Pelletier on Nov. 18 in connection with a YouTube video that showed someone in a Joker mask threatening to kill Quebec Muslims.

“As of next week, there will be murders all across Quebec,” the masked man said in what VICE News described as a Quebecois-sounding accent. “We will eliminate all of them, one by one. Islam has harmed us enough.”

The masked man, brandishing what appeared to be a handgun, said he had recruited others in his mission and promised to “fire a bullet in the head of one Arab per week” as response to what had happened in Paris.

Pelletier was charged with uttering threats, inciting hatred against an identifiable group, causing fear among members of the Muslim community, and using a fake firearm. His lawyer told reporters after his court appearance that it had been a joke and that her client “did not mean anything in the video.”

3. Assaults on hijab-wearing women

Assaults on hijab-wearing women

Screengrab / Google Maps / Via google.ca

A Muslim woman was assaulted in Toronto’s Flemingdon Park neighbourhood on Nov. 16 as she waited to pick up her children from school.

The woman, who has not been publicly identified, said she was attacked from behind by two men who pulled on her hijab and repeatedly punched her in the head and in the stomach. They reportedly called her a “terrorist” and told her to “go back to your country” before robbing her of some cash and her phone.

The woman’s brother told reporters the assault had left her traumatized. Police have not yet apprehended the suspects, but they are treating it as a hate crime.

Elsewhere in Toronto, two hijab-wearing women were harassed while riding the subway on Nov. 19. Three people reportedly accused the women of being terrorists and one of them was pushed. A witness pulled the emergency alarm on the train but the assailants managed to escape before security showed up.

The condemns, in the strongest language possible, the harassment or racist taunts of anyone. The TTC is, and must remain, safe for all.

Finally, a Toronto woman told BuzzFeed Canada that she was assaulted by a stranger on Nov. 17 while walking home from a friend’s house. Kayla Gerber said she was bundled up with a winter scarf over her head to keep her warm, and a man pushed her against a wall and told her to take off her hijab and “get the fuck out of the country!” Gerber, who is not Muslim and does not wear a hijab, said the man ran off after other pedestrians started to notice the altercation.

4. Threatening messages

Threatening messages

Eren Cervantes-Altamirano

An Ottawa woman said she got a threatening note that told her “Canada is no place for immigrants or terrorists.” Eren Cervantes-Altamirano told BuzzFeed Canada the note showed up in her mailbox on Nov. 18.

Originally from Mexico, Cervantes-Altamirano is a Muslim convert and “one of the very few visible minorities” in her area of Ottawa. “I don’t wear hijab but I’m still obviously a visible minority,” she said.

An anti-Muslim message was also found inside an apartment building this week in Toronto, near where the Muslim mother was assaulted while waiting for her children at their school. The words “Muslims go home!!! We do not what you here!” were scrawled on a wall inside the building, Global News reported.

On the same day as two Muslim women were harassed on Toronto transit, an anti-Muslim message was also found on a GO Transit regional train in the city.

5. Houses of worship targeted

Houses of worship targeted

Paul Chiasson / THE CANADIAN PRESS

The Centre Islamique de l’Est de Montreal, which is run by controversial preacher Adil Charkaoui, was vandalized shortly after the terrorist attacks in Paris when something was thrown through the mosque’s windows.

The Montreal police are “looking into it as it possibly being a hate crime due to the nature of the place,” a police spokesperson told CBC News.

Another mosque, in Calgary, was broken into Nov. 16 while the congregation attended a vigil for the victims of the Paris attacks. Computers and some cash were taken from the Al Madinah Calgary Islamic Assembly, but police described it merely as a “crime of opportunity” and do not have any reason to investigate it as a hate crime.

A Hindu temple in Kitchener, Ontario, was also vandalized in the days after the Paris attacks. Five rocks were thrown through the windows of the Ram Dham Hindu Temple late on Nov. 15. It’s not clear whether the vandalism was a mistaken attempt to target Muslims, but several mosques in the GTA are nevertheless raising funds to help repair the temple.