The automobile attack earlier this week in London, Ont., which killed all but one child member of the Afzaal family, was the third time Muslims in Canada have been slain because of their beliefs in the previous four years. Since the probable anti-Muslim intent was uncovered on Monday, there has been a collective soul searching.
Many are now trying to identify the causes of Islamophobia in the country, as they did in 2020 after a fatal stabbing at an Etobicoke mosque and in 2017 when six Muslims were murdered to death in Quebec City.
This time, the focus swiftly shifted to Quebec’s Laicity Act, which prohibits public school teachers, police officers, and government lawyers, among other governmental officials, from wearing religious insignia at work. Despite the fact that the law, known as Bill 21, does not identify any religion, it disproportionately affects Muslim women who wear the hijab and for whom public education was formerly a popular career option.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was asked three times during a press conference on Tuesday by three different reporters if he will now come out more firmly against Bill 21.
In response to one of the inquiries, Trudeau replied, “I have long indicated my concern with Bill 21.” “However, I have also stated that Quebecers have the right to contest and defend their rights in court, as they have done in the past.” The Toronto Star, Toronto Sun, and Globe and Mail all published columns arguing that a real strategy to combating Islamophobia necessitated more robust criticism of Bill 21 from Trudeau and other federal leaders.
The Quebec law, according to advocates for Ontario’s Muslim community, is one of a slew of state-backed initiatives that stigmatize Muslims. “I can see the parallels between Quebec’s Bill 21 and what we saw happen [in London],”Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi, an Ismaili Muslim, said Tuesday.
The condemnation of Bill 21 in Quebec, on the other hand, was regarded as an attempt by English Canada to pin the London attack on a law that was: a.) enacted democratically and b.) does not apply in Ontario.
“The comments demonstrate the extent to which the rest of Canada despises Quebecers and their democratic choices,” said Paul St-Pierre Plamondon, leader of the Parti Québécois, which voted in favor of Bill 21.