OVER the long weekend, while Canadian families from across the country tuned into NHL playoffs, Arab-Muslim-Canadian Colorado Avalanche player, Nazem Kadri, and his family were the subject of fierce anti-Arab-racist and Islamophobic social media posts and death threats, after he was involved in a collision at a game on Saturday night that left another player out for the rest of the series.
The Canadian Arab Institute (CAI) and the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) on Thursday unreservedly condemned the anti-Arab racism and Islamophobia targeting Kadri and his family. CAI and NCCM called on the NHL to amend their Fan Code of Conduct to ban fans who direct death threats and racist slurs towards players and their families.
Some Twitter posts called Kadri an “Arab scum” and a “towel head”. On Instagram, Kadri received hate mail from people calling him a “stupid Arab” and a “f***ing immigrant” who “should’ve never came to America.” Other posts, which have been deleted, included death threats. Kadri was also subject to Islamophobic attacks, insinuating that he is a terrorist. Kadri, who was born in London, Ontario, and is of Lebanese descent, acknowledged that he has been dealing with racial slurs for much of his life, the NCCM said in a press statement.
“Kadri is not alone in his fight against racism. Time and time again, we see racialized players experiencing double the consequences and hate when incidents in the game happen. In the last few months, Kadri, Akim Aliu (Calgary), Matt Dumba (Minnesota), Wayne Simmonds (Toronto) and Anthony Duclair (Florida), among others, formed the Hockey Diversity Alliance, and have come forward about the racism that they’ve endured by fans, coaches, and the League itself,” the NCCM pointed out.
“This year, CAI is campaigning for April to be designated as Arab Heritage Month. Last month, we celebrated Kadri, as his story and resilience has inspired thousands of racialized youth across the country to get on the ice. Today, we are condemning the attacks he is facing for being Arab and Muslim on the ice. Representation matters, but it must also be accompanied with support mechanisms to combat racism because these online threats translate to offline violence – 66% of hate crimes reported by Arab-Canadians last year were violent.” said Jad El Tal, Director of Research and Policy at CAI.
“Discrimination and racism in all of their forms have no place in sports. We hope for a future in hockey where young Arabs, Muslims, and other racialized youth in Canada, can dream to play in the NHL, without fearing for their safety due to their identity. The NHL must do the right thing and take a stand against racism,” said Omar Khamissa of NCCM.
MEANWHILE, Kadri has handled the situation in a calm, mature manner.
“I know that they’re booing me and what-not, but that’s what being a fan is,” Kadri said. “As a home team and a home player, you want the fans on your side and heckling the other team, as long as it’s within the guidelines. I’ve got no issues with that and I know what was said isn’t a reflection on every single fan in St. Louis. I understand that and I want to make that clear. But for those that wasted their time sending messages like that, I feel sorry for them,” he was quoted as saying by espn.com.au.
Kadri also told the media: “People need to be aware that this stuff still happens and that it’s hurtful. A lot of people don’t have to deal with that and they might not understand what it’s like to deal with that, but people are trying. Which I appreciate. At the end of the day, I’m a good hockey player. I just try to provide for my team. I try to put all of that aside. I just worry about some kids that aren’t as mentally tough as I am and have to go through that scrutiny and that criticism. That’s why I want to be the best I can to help.”