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Hate Crimes Against Muslim Canadians Doubled Over Three Years

Also, Canada doesn't collect data on hate crimes against trans people, which is troubling.

by Sarah Berman
Apr 13 2016, 5:00pm

Photo by Anthony Easton via Flickr

New data on police-reported hate crime in Canada shows crimes against Muslims have more than doubled over three years.

In 2014, the most recent data available, the overall number of hate crimes came down slightly since 2012, while religiously-motivated crimes against Muslims jumped from 45 to 99 nationwide.

The report comes only six months after a federal election that put rising religious animosity front and centre. Debates over whether Muslim women should be able to wear face-covering niqabs during citizenship ceremonies and the creation of a tip line for barbaric cultural practices underscored Canada's growing divide when it comes to religious accommodation.

Vandalism photo via NCCM

The National Council of Canadian Muslims has been doing its own tracking of anti-Muslim attacks and vandalism, and has found incidents have increased since 2014.

But Ryan Dyck, director of research policy and development with the rights group Egale Canada, says that without data on crimes motivated by gender identity and expression, we're not getting the full picture.

"We know trans people are one of the most targeted groups," Dyck told Global News. "But because we don't collect data, we don't collect information on these circumstances, it makes it difficult to put in place any programming or training for police or communities to address these crimes."

Research by Egale suggests trans people experience different kinds of hate crime than the general population. They experience more sexual and physical harassment, whereas most reported hate crimes in Canada are categorized as "mischief."

So far attempts to recognize gender identity under the Criminal Code and Human Rights Act have been unsuccessful, though Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has set it as a priority in his mandate letter to Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould. A new private members bill tabled by NDP MP Randall Garrison aims to recognize gender identity based discrimination under the law.

In Canada, most police-reported hate crimes are motivated by race or ethnicity, followed by religion, sexual orientation and disability. Black people are still the most targeted racial group in Canada, while Jewish people remain the most targeted religious group overall.

Across Canada, hate crimes went up in Calgary and parts of British Columbia's Lower Mainland, while stats improved in places like Hamilton, Kingston and Regina.

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