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Trudeau names Canada's first representative on combating Islamophobia


Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has named Amira Elghawaby as Canada's first special representative on combating Islamophobia, who is tasked with aiding Ottawa in tackling hate as communities have urged the government to take action following violent attacks toward Muslims.

According to a statement from Trudeau’s office, Elghawaby will provide advice to the federal government in developing inclusive policies and programs and to support the government’s efforts in increasing public education and awareness around Islamophobia.

Human rights advocate and journalist Elghawaby was appointed following "an open, transparent, and merit-based selection process," according to the statement. She is also a founding board member of the Canadian Anti-Hate Network.

“Diversity truly is one of Canada’s greatest strengths, but for many Muslims, Islamophobia is all too familiar. We need to change that. No one in our country should experience hatred because of their faith,” Trudeau said in the press release.

Appointing a special representative was one of the recommendations made to the federal government coming out of a 2021 virtual National Summit on Islamophobia.

The summit, which had been long-called for by Muslim communities across the country, was hosted in the wake of the truck attack that killed four members of the Afzaal family in London, Ont. in June 2021. Organizations, including the National Council of Canadian Muslims, have continued to call on the federal government to dismantle white supremacist groups and address online hate.

Filling this position comes just days before the anniversary of the Jan. 29, 2017, attack on a mosque in Quebec City, which has been designated a national day of remembrance and action against Islamophobia.

Islamophobia is defined as “racism, stereotypes, prejudice, fear, or acts of hostility” against Muslims, according to Canada’s Anti-Racism Strategy. Statistics Canada data from 2021 shows that the number of police-reported hate crimes targeting Muslim people increased 71 per cent from the previous year

Elghawaby will be specifically tasked with advising Ottawa around policy-making and with “legislative proposals, programs, and regulations” that reflect the realities of Muslims in Canada, according to the press release.

As well, she will provide advice and guidance to ministers to “improve efforts to track and monitor incidents of anti-Muslim hatred and violence across Canada,” and promote “public awareness and understanding” of Muslim communities in Canada through events and commemoration.




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