Canadian Muslims have suffered from a distressing and fatal history of hate against our community over the last decade. Grassroots advocacy to address Islamophobia in Canada has been met with limited success due to politicization of these concerns. Therefore, we thank the Government of Canada for the appointment of the first Special Representative on Combating Islamophobia.
However, Hikma is gravely concerned about the attacks against the Special Representative, Ms. Amira Elghawaby, by politicians including Pierre Poilievre, the leader of the Conservative Party, and Yves Francois Blanchet, leader of the Bloc Quebecois. Such attacks, which call for her removal and label her as unqualified, divisive, or biased, are part of the systemic Islamophobia that Muslims face in this country.
Hikma wholeheartedly rejects efforts to dictate who should and should not represent the Muslim community in the fight against Islamophobia. As taxpayers and citizens of Canada, we will not tolerate this type of blatantly racist thinking. Combating Islamophobia requires addressing challenging issues and changing the status quo. When Canadian Muslims called for a Special Representative on Combating Islamophobia following the Islamophobic terror attack in London, Ontario in 2021, we wanted an advocate to challenge the status quo. Addressing the issues in Quebec arising from Bill 21 (which a Quebec Judge has found to be discriminatory), or issues within law enforcement groups, are important steps toward an inclusive national dialogue on the effects of racism of marginalized communities.The Leader of the Official Opposition’s use of cynical language, such as referring to Amira as “anti-Jewish,” is divisive, especially when one considers that her appointment was welcomed by Canada’s Special Representative on Anti-Semitism as well as the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs. To label Amira as “anti-Semitic” based on her past criticism of the Israeli government is an affront to free speech and a blatant attempt to silence Muslim advocacy.
We urge politicians to set aside partisan politics in a cheap attempt to score political points. Combating Islamophobia requires a move away from divisive political rhetoric, which endangers Canadian Muslims – who are still subject to hostile words and acts across the country. The current politicization of Amira’s appointment detracts from the real and serious issues that confront Canadian Muslims. Hikma Public Affairs Council supports the appointment of Amira Elghawaby and looks forward to working with her to address the real issues faced by Canadian Muslims. We urge our elected officials from all parties and all levels of government to do same.