Islamophobia and climate change top issues at Muslim town hall

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Wednesday night, it was climate change and Islamophobia that worried the approximately 200 young people who attended the town hall hosted by the National Canadian Council of Muslims with Federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh.

Suddenly it seems climate change is worrying not just young Muslims but liberal-minded people in the western world. “I think it’s all for nothing if we’re choking on our fumes and melting into the abyss, so that’s a key one,” said Zaid Al-Rawni, CEO of non-profit Islamic Relief Canada.

“I’m looking for a political leader that knows that climate change exists,” said Ryerson University student Feaven Abera.

NDP leader Jagmeet Singh talked about the NDP’s plans to fight racism, including making social media platforms responsible for removing extremist content, boosting enforcement against hate crimes, and passing a federal law to ban carding.

“It is really difficult for Muslims right now,” Singh said. “There is a lot of fear. People are being targeted for who they are.”

Toronto had the largest population of Muslim people of any city according to the census, at just over 424,900.

According to the 2011 census, which is the latest data available, just over a million people in Canada self-identified as Muslim, representing 3.2 per cent of the country’s total population.

Statistics Canada says Ontario is home to 55.2 per cent of the Muslim population, with the roughly 582,000 Muslims living in Ontario representing 4.6 per cent of the province’s population.

“In Canada we are more of a mosaic. We have people from various backgrounds. People come from all over the world just to live here and to be able to practise their religion and culture in safety,” she said.

Politics and law should reflect that, she said, with governing parties enacting laws that protect vulnerable populations.

The number of police-reported hate crimes in Canada reached an all-time high in 2017, largely driven by incidents targeting Muslim, Jewish and black people, according to Statistics Canada.

But after that spike, the number of police-reported hate crimes dropped 13 per cent last year, from 2,073 incidents to 1,798. -CINEWS

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