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Wednesday, 05 December 2018 16:05

Canada: ‘Hate crimes surge 47%’

Reported hate crimes in Canada skyrocketed 47 percent last year, the highest number since comparable data first become available in 2009, according to recently released figures from Statistics Canada.

Law enforcement agencies reported that 2,073 hate crimes occurred in 2017, up from 1,409 in 2016, an increase fuelled by incidents primarily taking place in Ontario and Quebec targeting Canada’s Muslim, Jewish and black populations.

Although it marked the fourth consecutive year that hate crimes have increased in the country, this uptick represented the largest year-on-year jump during that period.

Hate crimes targeting religious groups accounted for 41 percent of all hate crimes in Canada in 2017 and were up 83 percent from 2016, according to the data.

In Quebec, reported hate crimes against Muslims peaked in February 2017, the month after a 28-year-old man, allegedly animated by far-right extremist figures online, opened fire on a Quebec City mosque, killing six people and injuring 19 others.

“The shooting set the tone for the rest of the year,” said Leila Nasr, a spokeswoman for the National Council of Canadian Muslims. “It was a year in which the Muslim community felt like it was increasingly targeted and like it was always watching its back.”

According to the Statistics Canada data, though there were increases in both violent and nonviolent hate crimes in 2017, most of the upsurge was in the latter, including crimes such as public mischief, vandalism and public incitement of hatred.

Experts say that those types of hate crimes should not be dismissed.

Nasr said that the effects of nonviolent incidents are particularly pronounced on children, for whom they may be their first encounter with Islamophobia.

“When someone spray-paints a mosque, it sends a message to the community that though no one was beaten up, the community is the other and is not wanted,” she said.

Statistics Canada noted in its report that although its figures could be “influenced by changes in local police service practices” and “the willingness of victims to report incidents to police,” its numbers “likely undercount the true extent of hate crime in Canada.”

“In recent years, there’s been an increased polarization of our society and our political spectrum, not only in Canada but around the world,” said Nasr, who called on the government to institute a federal strategy against hate crimes. “Hate and intolerance do not respect political boundaries and physical borders.”

Darul Ihsan Media Desk

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