TORONTO: Toronto Muslims and supporters are organizing a candlelight vigil on Friday at Yonge and Dundas Square to honour the lives of Yusor Mohammad, 21, Razan Mohammed Abu-Salha, 19, and Deah Shaddy Barakat, 23, victims allegedly of Islamophobia in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, on Tuesday.
Organizers will highlight Islamophobia in Canada, particularly the extended secret police powers being given to CSIS under Bill C-51 that could be used to unfairly target Muslims.
There will be short speeches and a prayer offered, as well as a book for members of the public to sign and write messages of support, which will be delivered to the families.
“We are honouring the memory of Yusor, Razan and Deah, as well as the many Muslims whose lives have been taken or disrupted by Islamophobia,” says Samira Sayed-Rahman, one of the organizers of the events. “And we have to remember that Islamphobia is not just an American problem, we see it right here in Canada with laws like Bill C-51, the so-called Charter of Values debate in Quebec, and surveillance and intimidation Muslim Canadians at the hands of the government’s security agencies.”
The Conservative government is currently trying to pass Bill C-51, new anti-terror legislation that gives CSIS broad powers to do virtually anything that can be claimed to undermine the security of Canada. CSIS and the RCMP disproportionately target and detain Muslims in Canada. Immigration laws such as security certificates and s34 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act have been used to unjustly detain Muslim men, and separate families, say the organizers.
Riaz Sayani-Mulji adds, “We here in Canada are no stranger to the violence that Deah, Yusor and Razan faced. We have seen various mosques in Canada that have been vandalized and bombed, physical assaults of Muslim Canadians in places like the subway or walking on the street, and daily harassment, intimidation, and racism Muslims in Canada face. These can all be connected back to the global “War on Terror” – which is just a war of terror against our communities.”
The Supreme Court of Canada recently struck down the niqab and burka ban imposed by now Minister of Defense Jason Kenney. For years now the Quebec government has pushed legislation that would see Muslim women who wear the niqab or burka forced to choose between accessing public services and maintaining their faith.
Suraia Sahar adds, “It is the laws and policies of our federal and provincial governments that foster and create attitudes of Islamophobia amongst individuals. It is our fears that the attacks against Muslims in Canada will only increase in number and severity as this War on Terror continues.”
(CNN reports: “Police in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, say the Tuesday evening shooting appeared to be fueled by rage over a parking space. Hicks’ wife says it was a dispute between neighbors.
“Some allege there’s a double standard at play here. They say that if the situation was reversed, law enforcement and the media wouldn’t hesitate to call it a hate crime or a terrorist act.”)