Canada appoints first representative to fight Islamophobia | News about Islamophobia

The advocacy group is hailing Amira Elghawaby’s appointment to the advisory role as a ‘historic moment for Muslims in Canada.’

Canada has appointed its first special envoy to combat Islamophobia as the government seeks to stem hatred and discrimination following a spate of attacks targeting members of the country’s Muslim communities in recent years.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Thursday that human rights advocate Amira Elghawaby will take over the post, with a mandate to support Ottawa’s efforts to end Islamophobia and to offer advice on government policies, legislation and other programs.

“Diversity is indeed one of Canada’s greatest strengths, but for many Muslims Islamophobia is all too familiar. We have to change that. No one in our country should experience hatred because of their faith,” Trudeau said in a statement.

Elghawaby’s appointment, he added, “is an important step in our fight against Islamophobia and hatred in all its forms.”

For years, leaders of the Muslim community in Canada have called on authorities at all levels to address racism, hate-motivated violence and the dominance of far-right groups.

In 2020, researchers found that the number of hate groups operating in the country had tripled in the past few years, with anti-Muslim rhetoric one of the “most prominent” topics among right-wing extremists online.

A year later, the Trudeau government held national summits on Islamophobia and anti-Semitism in an effort to tackle the issues. The effort comes after a spate of deadly attacks and harassment targeting Muslim communities across Canada raised alarm and prompted calls for action.

In June 2021, four members of a Muslim family were killed when a man ran over them with his truck in London, Ontario, while a gunman killed six Muslim men as they prayed at a mosque in Quebec City in 2017.

On Thursday, the National Council of Canadian Muslims, an advocacy group, hailed Canada’s appointment of Elghawaby, who previously worked with the organization, as a “historic moment for Muslims in Canada.”

“This is the first time that the fight against Islamophobia will have an established home in the Canadian government,” the group’s executive director, Stephen Brown, said in a statement.

“There are urgent changes that must be made, from better oversight for our national security agencies, to stopping unfair auditing of our community organizations. We have a lot of work ahead of us and we are so excited that there is now an Office that can help us make these changes at the institutional level.”

A columnist for the Toronto Star, Elghawaby currently works at the Canadian Foundation for Race Relations. She was also one of the founding board members of the Canadian Anti-Hate Network, a non-profit organization that monitors hate groups in Canada.

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