Islamophobia Legal Assistance Hotline Commemorates Quebec City Mosque Shooting with Community Discussion in Vancouver

MEDIA ADVISORY – January 24. 2019

VANCOUVER — January 29 will mark two years since Alexandre Bissonnette shot and killed six worshippers at the Islamic Cultural Centre of Quebec City, severely injuring others. The Islamophobia Legal Assistance Hotline (ILAH) is marking the second anniversary of this event with a community discussion at the Vancouver Public Library on Monday January 28th.

In a climate of escalating violence and bigotry against Muslim communities in Canada, there has been a call to commemorate the day by designating it “National Day of Action against Hate and Intolerance”.

“Hate crimes such as this cannot and should not be forgotten”

Zool Suleman

“The Islamophobia Legal Assistance Hotline, along with many civic groups across Canada, urges the Government of Canada to mark this tragic event with a national day of remembrance. Hate crimes such as this cannot and should not be forgotten” states Zool Suleman, a member of ILAH and one of the event organizers.

Admission is free but pre-registration is required for this event:

In Remembrance: The Quebec City Mosque Shooting | Community Discussion

Monday January 28, 2019 at 6pm

Vancouver Public Library – The Alma VanDusen and Peter Kaye Rooms

Amal Ghazal, Director of Centre for Comparative Muslim Studies (SFU)
Itrath Syed, PhD Candidate, School of Communication, (SFU)
Kashif Ahmed, Chair of the National Council of Canadian Muslims

About the Hotline

The hotline was initiated by a group of lawyers and legal organizations and has been operational in British Columbia since 2016. The goal of the hotline is to provide legal support for people who are being discriminated against for being Muslim or being perceived as Muslim.

Hotline organizers state on the website: “We want those who have suffered from various forms of discrimination or acts of hate because of their faith and/or racial background to know that there are lawyers in BC who are committed to assisting with the difficult task of holding those who commit such acts to account by our legal institutions.”

In Remembrance: The Quebec City Mosque Shooting

Two years ago six worshipers were shot and killed at the Islamic Cultural Centre of Quebec City. Join us as we mark this event with a community discussion.

Monday January 29, 2019 at 6pm
Vancouver Public Library – The Alma VanDusen and Peter Kaye Rooms

Amal Ghazal, Director of Centre for Comparative Muslim Studies (SFU)
Itrath Syed, PhD Candidate, School of Communication, (SFU)
Kashif Ahmed, Chair of the National Council of Canadian Muslims

Download poster.

We gratefully acknowledge that this event will take place on the occupied, traditional, ancestral, and unceded territories of the Coast Salish peoples – specifically sḵwx̱wú7mesh, sel̓íl̓witulh, and xʷməθkʷəy̓əm nations.

Lawyers with the Islamophobia Legal Assistance Hotline Join Calls for Day of Remembrance for Mosque Attack

For Immediate Release | BCPIAC

VANCOUVER, BC – Lawyers with the Islamophobia Legal Assistance Hotline are joining other groups across Canada to call on the federal government to designate January 29th as a “National Day of Remembrance and Action on Islamophobia.” January 29th is the anniversary of the 2017 attack on a Quebec City mosque by a far-right extremist that left six Muslim men dead and 19 others wounded.

In 2016, nine legal organizations and several concerned individual lawyers came together to launch the Islamophobia Legal Assistance Hotline. The Hotline provides people who are Muslim or perceived to be Muslim and who have experienced discrimination with free, confidential legal advice and information. The number is 604-343-3828. Members of the public can learn more about the service on the Islamophobia Hotline website at

“The January 29th mosque attack is part of a larger—and escalating— pattern of bigotry and hate crimes against Muslims and those perceived to be Muslim in Canada,” said Zool Suleman, a Vancouver lawyer who volunteers with the hotline. “As a legal community, it is our duty to pull together and ensure that people who are affected by this racism are able to protect their rights.”

“Islamophobia can be experienced in many different ways,” said Sarah Khan, staff lawyer at the BC Public Interest Advocacy Centre. “We have heard reports of harassment, violent attacks, racial profiling, property destruction and threats. 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 are affected by this racism are able to protect their rights.”

“We want to empower people to respond to this discrimination by making legal support more readily available,” said Aleem Bharmal, “Many people who experience this sort of discrimination might not even know that there may be legal options available to respond, depending on what happened, such as filing a discrimination complaint with the BC Human Rights Tribunal. We want to make sure people can get the legal advice and assistance 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 volunteers with the hotline. “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 authorities.”

The hotline was launched with the support of Access Pro Bono Society, the BC Civil Liberties Association, the BC 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 – BC, and the South Asian Bar Association of BC.

For more information, please contact:

Hasan Alam             778-995-6786
Aleem Bharmal       604-673-3126
Sarah Khan              604-687-3063
Zool Suleman          604-685-8472

Supreme Court rules employees can allege workplace harassment against people from other companies

Original CBC News article by Michelle Ghoussoub

The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled a B.C. worker who was harassed at a worksite by a contractor for another company can file a human rights complaint.

According to the ruling, “the code is not limited to protecting employees solely from discriminatory harassment by their superiors in the workplace.…This may include discrimination by their co‑workers, even when those co‑workers have a different employer.”

University of British Columbia law professor Margot Young says the decision reflects the modern workforce, where employees are often brought in on individual contracts and have no formal employment relationship.

“It’s really very significant for employees, because it confirms a broad, contextual understanding of what’s going to count as your workplace,” she said.

“It’s not only those who have formal power over us who are prohibited by the code from discriminating against us.”

The B.C. Civil Liberties Association applauded the ruling, saying it’s especially important as workplaces evolve.

“This is really important, because in more and more workplaces these days, we see all kinds of different working arrangements,” said BCCLA executive director Josh Paterson.

“It makes clear that discrimination in the workplace will be covered, whether it’s a boss discriminating against an employee, whether it’s employees against other employees or whether it’s contractors who are an integral part of the workplace who are there almost every day.”

Derogatory comments

In 2013, Mohammadreza​ Sheikhzadeh-Mashgoul was the target of repeated derogatory comments and emails concerning race, religion and sexual orientation while working as a supervising engineer for Omega and Associates Engineering Ltd. on a road project in Delta, B.C.

The comments were made by foreman Edward Schrenk, who was working on the same project but for a company called Clemas Construction Ltd., the primary construction contractor on the project.​ Sheikhzadeh-Mashgoul filed a complaint against Schrenk.

Omega had certain supervisory powers over employees of Clemas Construction Ltd.

Schrenk was eventually fired by his employer because of the comments, and Sheikhzadeh-Masgoul had his claim of employment discrimination upheld by the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal in 2014.

Schrenk applied to dismiss the complaint, arguing that section 13 of the Human Rights Code had no application because the pair were not in a direct employment relationship.

The B.C. Court of Appeal subsequently dismissed the complaint in 2015, ruling that the tribunal acted outside of its jurisdiction, stating that not all insults made in the workplace amounted to “discrimination regarding employment.”​​

The appeal was sent to the Supreme Court of Canada in March 2017.​

©2017 CBC/Radio-Canada. All rights reserved

 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.


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

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, 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.