In the three days since the terrorist attacks in Paris that left at least 129 people dead, the international response to the incident has been swift. Within hours of the attack, support poured in from all over the world, Canadians among them. But despite all the hopeful Twitter and Facebook status updates it didn't take long for Islamophobia in Canada to raise its ugly head in a very tangible way.
On Saturday, the only mosque in Peterborough, Ontario, was set on fire in an act the police are investigating as a hate crime. Although no one was hurt in the attack, around $80,000 in damage was done to the mosque.
Yesterday, the National Council for Canadian Muslims released a statement condemning the attack. "This attack is very disturbing. The mosque is regularly attended by families with young children. We are relieved no one was injured as this incident could have been much worse," said NCCM Executive Director Ihsaan Gardee. "While deeply hurtful and offensive, Canadian Muslims know that such acts do not represent the views of the vast majority of their fellow Canadians or of the residents of Peterborough. We call on authorities to investigate this arson as a hate crime so a clear message is sent that these acts have no place in our communities."
As of this article being written, $62,000 has been raised for the mosque's repairs via a Fundrazr page, with some single donations being in the thousands of dollars.
There has also been disturbing negativity in other parts of the country. In Toronto, a sign was spotted that asked Muslims if they were sorry for the Paris attacks. The CityNews reporter who initially saw the sign then went to interview the homeowners who put it up and uploaded a video of the encounter to Twitter.
"I'm open to someone saying, 'How do you write that?' But, I'm just asking, are you sorry for your brothers?" the woman who put up the sign says. "I don't think it's hateful, I don't think it's racist."
The woman, when asked whether she, as a Christian, would have to apologize for a right-wing Christian attack of a similar nature, said that she would "absolutely" have to speak up about it. The woman and her husband also said that the sign was not meant to single out Syrian refugees.
In another case of hateful imagery, a Canadian Sikh man's selfie was altered to show him wearing a suicide vest and holding a Qu'ran; an attached caption claimed he was one of the Paris attackers. Worse still, the photo was circulated by European newspapers. Veerender Jubbal, the man in the picture, was previously involved in criticism of the Gamergate movement, and took to Twitter to explain the situation and to claim that he may have been targeted by pro-Gamergate trolls.
On Parliament Hill, Conservative interim leader Rona Ambrose is putting pressure on Justin Trudeau's government to discontinue the planned stoppage of bombings on ISIS. Citing the need for solidarity in support of Paris, Ambrose said that Trudeau's government would receive full support of the Conservative opposition if he chose to reverse his decision to pull Canadian CF-18s out of the coalition bombing campaign.
"The fight against ISIS requires a strong humanitarian response, but also a military response," Ambrose told reporters Saturday. "It's important that we remain resolute and support our allies."
When asked on Friday whether he would take back his decision to stop the Canadian bombing of ISIS, Prime Minister Trudeau said it was "too soon to jump to any conclusions." Later, at a G20 meeting in Turkey, Trudeau said that while Canada was committed to pulling out of the bombing campaign, they were still going to be an "active member" in taking down ISIS. The prime minister told allies that his government was evaluating how Canada could contribute to the mission.
However, Foreign Affairs Minister Stephane Dion took a more aggressive stance, saying that Canada stood with France in its declaration that the Paris attacks were an act of war.
"The reaction is a reaction of immense sadness, but also absolute resolution to fight what the president of France rightly called an act of war," Dion said Saturday before boarding a plane.
Last night, a vigil was held in Toronto's Dundas Square to honor the victims of the most recent attacks in Paris, Beirut, and Baghdad, as well as to show support for incoming Syrian refugees. There was a similar vigil in Montreal on Saturday night, which focused more on the Paris tragedy in particular.
Despite criticism from people stating that the admission of refugees may allow for more attacks like the one in Paris to occur in other places, the Trudeau government has said it will hold to its promise of admitting 25,000 refugees before the end of the year. In a letter to the prime minister that was posted to Twitter today, Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall called for Trudeau to suspend the current refugee plan.
"I understand that the overwhelming majority of refugees are fleeing violence and bloodshed and pose no threat to anyone. However, if even a small number of individuals who wish to do harm to our country are able to enter Canada as a result of a rushed refugee resettlement process, the results could be devastating."
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