Anti-Muslim bullying on rise after Canada attacks, group says

Reuters News
Posted: Oct 30, 2014 12:21 PM

By Richard Valdmanis

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Reports of anti-Muslim harassment have risen in Canada after attacks last week in which two soldiers were killed by people authorities say were inspired by militant group Islamic State.

The National Council of Canadian Muslims said it had seen a tenfold increase in reports of harassment, including racial slurs on public buses, notes left on car windshields and bullying at schools.

"There are some very positive signs that we’ve noticed in the form of calls of support and examples of people resisting bigotry," said Amy Awad, the group’s human rights coordinator. "But there has been a large increase in complaints, too."

She said a normal volume of anti-Muslim incident reports nationwide was about five a week. "That has gone up about tenfold, with a real surge in the past few days," she said.

Worries about homegrown extremism have risen in Canada after a gunman shot a soldier and charged into the Parliament building in Ottawa on Oct. 22. Two days earlier, a man rammed two soldiers with his car near Montreal, killing one.

The attacks came as Canada sent warplanes to take part in air strikes against Islamic State fighters in Iraq.

In Cold Lake, Alberta, home to an air base that has deployed some of those warplanes, residents last week banded together to clean and repair a mosque that had been vandalized after the Ottawa attack. After scrubbing away the spray-painted words "Go Home," the volunteers taped up a sign saying: "You are home."

This week, an actor was punched in the face by a resident of Hamilton, Ontario, the hometown of the soldier killed in Ottawa, after he loudly harangued a Muslim at a bus stop during a social experiment designed to test Canadian tolerance.

A YouTube video of the experiment has gone viral, with 1.3 million views.

(Editing by Jeffrey Hodgson and Lisa Von Ahn)