Montreal, February 4th, 2019 — Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME) rejects Quebec Premier François Legault’s remarks last week, in which he effectively denied the existence of Islamophobia in Quebec. Last Thursday, in response to questions from reporters about designating January 29th as a national day against Islamophobia, Legault stated: “I don’t think there is Islamophobia in Quebec, so I don’t see why there would be a day devoted to Islamophobia.” CJPME points out that there is no empirical support for Legault’s comments and calls on Legault’s government to take concrete measures to combat the growing problem of Islamophobia in the province.
After coming under fire for his initial comment, on Friday, Legault qualified his position to state that discrimination against Muslims exists in Quebec but that it is not widespread. Contrary to his statement, CJPME calls attention to the fact that several recent surveys on racism in Canada demonstrate that there is a particularly grave problem of Islamophobia in Quebec. This past November, Statistics Canada revealed that out of all religious groups in Canada, Muslims faced the highest increase in hate crimes against them. In fact, Stat Can registered that from 2016 – 2017, crimes against Muslims in Quebec tripled from 41 in 2016 to 117 in 2017. CJPME President Thomas Woodley responded to Legault’s comments by stating that, “If Mr. Legault wants to know if there is Islamophobia in Quebec, he has only to ask his fellow Muslims who face Islamophobia in all aspects of their lives – especially when it comes to finding a job. "
CJPME points out that Legault’s comments denying the existence of Islamophobia in Quebec came just two days after the second anniversary of the Quebec City Mosque Massacre, in which six Muslim men were tragically killed, and 19 more injured. The Massacre was the first time in Canadian history where a specific religious group was targeted by a shooter at their place of worship. CJPME President Thomas Woodley continued, “Legault’s comments could not be more insensitive and inappropriate, as they demonstrate a lack of respect for the victims and their families at this time, and show the provincial government is out of touch with the reality of Islamophobia in Quebec.”
CJPME notes that despite the ongoing challenge of Islamophobia in Canada, there is broad grassroots support for a national day against Islamophobia. Indeed, in October 2018, CJPME and the Canadian Muslim Forum (CMF-FMC) launched the “I Remember January 29th” to call on the federal government to designate January 29th as a National Day of Remembrance and Action on Islamophobia. Thus far, almost 140 Canadian organizations and almost 80 academics have already formally endorsed the campaign. They join nearly 4,500 Canadian individuals, who have added their voice to the campaign online.
About CJPME – Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME) is a non-profit and secular organization bringing together men and women of all backgrounds who labour to see justice and peace take root again in the Middle East. Its mission is to empower decision-makers to view all sides with fairness and to promote the equitable and sustainable development of the region.
For more information, please contact Miranda Gallo, 438-380-5410
Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East www.cjpme.org
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