The National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM), a civil liberties and advocacy organization, is worried by a new report submitted to the Peel Police Services Board on hate-motivated crime on Friday. The report reveals a 168% increase in police-reported hate crimes from 2016 to 2017, the majority of which were motivated by anti-religious bigotry.
The 2017 annual Hate/Bias Motivated Crime Report shows hate-motivated crimes in Brampton and Mississauga increased from 158 incidents in 2017 compared to just 59 in 2016.
Of these 158 incidents, Muslims faced the largest number of hate crimes with 57 documented cases. This was a 91% increase from the previous year. One in five of these incidents involved the use of violence, including threats, assault, and assault with a weapon.
NCCM Executive Director Ihsaan Gardee said, “The NCCM welcomes the publication of these important hate crimes statistics by the Peel Police. The sharp rise in anti-Muslim hate crimes is particularly concerning and confirms recent trends. As our communities become increasingly diverse, it is imperative that we clearly identify and work to mitigate against hate crimes which threaten our shared sense of safety.”
The increased visibility of far-right extremist voices is believed to have been a major contributing factor to the rise of hate crimes, especially those targeting Muslim and Jewish communities, the NCCM noted.
“This new report clearly suggests the detrimental effect that far-right ideologies can have in emboldening those who hold racist and xenophobic views to act on their beliefs in dangerous ways. We must not allow Islamophobic voices to go unchallenged as they create an unwelcome environment of fear and intimidation within Muslim communities. We urge elected leaders and public officials to continue to firmly denounce this rise in Islamophobia,” said NCCM Communications Coordinator Leila Nasr.
The Peel Police Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Bureau believes the increase may in part be due to the improvement of training for police officers on understanding and identifying hate crimes.
Gardee said, “The NCCM is pleased to note that police training on hate crime identification appears to have had a positive impact on recognizing hate crimes within the Peel Police Service. We urge police services across the country to undertaker similar training to promote deterrence through stronger investigations and public awareness-raising efforts. Our organization has long called for better training and resources for police services on hate crimes, and we will continue to do so to ensure the concerns of communities are being taken seriously by law enforcement.”