Bill 21 Islamophobia Muslim

Photo by Anastasia Shuraeva

Muslim leaders call for federal intervention to bring down Quebec’s Bill 21

This is among 61 recommendations being presented at the National Summit on Islamophobia this week.

In a press conference in London, Ontario this morning, the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) announced that 61 recommendations for all levels of government will be presented this week at the National Summit on Islamophobia. Among the recommendations, which were compiled following consultations with a diverse range of thousands of Canadians Muslims across the country, is a challenge to Bill 21 in Quebec — a challenge involving Canada’s attorney general (David Lametti).

The second vice chair of the London Muslim Mosque, Nusaiba Al‑Azem, introduced the topic of Bill 21.

“All the recommendations ought to be implemented, but in particular, as a visibly Muslim woman and a lawyer who, if I wanted to move to Quebec and work for the office of the crown, would be forced to choose between either practising my faith or my profession, I feel particularly strong about the Bill 21 law, that in the year 2021 polices and regulates women’s attire, religious freedom and our freedom of expression. While there are constitutional nuances concerning Bill 21, the attorney general absolutely should be involved in all challenges of this discriminatory law, which disproportionately targets religious minorities including our Jewish and Sikh brothers and sisters.”

—Nusaiba Al‑Azem

When asked about whether the 61 recommendations to combat Islamophobia are realistic, and questioned about how rapidly action could be taken, NCCM CEO Mustafa Farooq said that the group considers the action plan to be achievable, and even some of the more difficult steps could be undertaken rapidly. “The attorney general could commit to getting in the Bill 21 fight tomorrow,” Farooq said.

The recommendations are directed at all levels of government and tackle systemic discrimination against Muslims in Canada. According to the CBC, they include.

  • Funding for a National Support Fund for Survivors of Hate-Motivated Crimes.
  • An investigation into national security agencies and how they deal with white supremacist groups, and whether they have infiltrated those agencies.
  • New provisions in the Criminal Code around hate-motivated assault, murder, threats, and mischief that include specific penalties corresponding to each infraction.
  • A federal anti-Islamophobia Strategy by the end of 2021.
  • Funding for Muslim storytelling.
  • Provincial legislation that bars white supremacist groups from rallying on provincial property. 
  • A review of school curriculum with an anti-Islamophobic lens, and resources for Muslim students. 
  • Municipal street harassment bylaws that address verbal assault. 
  • Local community-based anti-Islamophobic initiatives and anti-Islamophobia advisory councils. 

The National Summit on Islamophobia, which was called following the murder of four members of the Afzaal family in London, ON on June 6, will take place on July 21, following the National Summit on Antisemitism on July 21.

“Every level of govt needs to commit to change so that this can end,” Farooq said.

For more about National Council of Canadian Muslims vs. Bill 21, please visit the NCCM website.

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