Muslim women in Montreal North victims of hate incidents

“Being a visibly Muslim woman in Quebec is becoming harder and harder,” says Lina El Bakir from NCCM, after three hate incidents targeting women wearing a hijab in Montreal North occurred within six days. Felisha Adam reports.

Montreal North saw three hate incidents targeting women wearing a hijab in October all within just 6 days.

Those in the Muslim community are worried.

“Being a visibly Muslim woman in Quebec is becoming harder and harder,” says Lina El Bakir a Quebec advocacy officer with the National Council of Canadian Muslims. She is a visible Muslim women who wears a hijab, when describing her day to day realities she says, “ you always have a little voice at the back of your head that is hyper aware of your surroundings, of how you act, how you behave,”

The hate incidents targeted visibly Muslim women two incidents saw women verbally attacks while in their cars and the third took place in the workplace.

Mayor Valerie Plante tweeted in French that she was shocked to see Montreal women experience racism because of their religion. Hate and intolerance are unacceptable. Montreal is an open and inclusive city, rich and proud of its diversity.

But for Bakir she says the community is “past shock we’re at anger and frustration. There are laws in Quebec that have been proven to promote that kind of hate,”

Bill 21 is what she refers to – it bans the wearing of religious symbols for those in a position of authority while on the job, but Bakir says the impact is more than that.

“This is what we’re showing, these hate crimes, this hate incidents. These are the products of a message that is being sent. And it is problematic because. You are. You’re marginalizing groups that, you know, contribute to your society,”

A study done by the Association for Canadian Studies on the impact of Bill 21 reported within Jewish, Sikh, and Muslim communities there was an overall decline in a sense of acceptance as full-fledged members of Quebec society, but found the highest number among two groups one of which Muslim women hitting 80 per cent.

“When you pass these kinds of bills like Bill 21, you are also disrupting the social fabric of safety within your society,”

66 percent of Muslim women in Quebec women reported yes when asked if they have been a victim and/or a witness of a hate incident or a hate crime.

“Montreal North is a welcoming and diverse place,” says Christine Black – the Mayor of the borough in a statement to CityNews adding, “we strongly condemn this kind of hateful demonstrations, which unfortunately occur too often, across the country,”

Lina El Bakir says more policies are needed to stop these attacks.

“We need to have policies and bylaws that will prevent these kinds of incidents…it’s not okay to call a person a terrorist…it’s not okay to remove the hijab of someone…we need to have those kinds of strong stances to make sure that everybody feels like they belong and restore the sense of safety that we’re losing.

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