Black and Muslim women in Edmonton face multi-faceted discrimination, senators say

Senators hear about the many ways black and Muslim women in Edmonton face discrimination, as the Senate Human Rights Committee stops at some Canadian cities hardest hit by Islamophobia.

Dunia Nur, president of the African Canadian Civic Engagement Council, urged senators Thursday to look at Islamophobia from a multi-faceted lens.

Black Muslim women face Islamophobia, in addition to anti-black racism, Afrophobia and gender-based discrimination and violence, Nur told senators.

“When you identify yourself and feel that pain on a daily basis, it’s like you’re excluded and you feel isolated and you don’t belong in any community,” Nur told CBC News, after his presentation.

The committee’s hearings were born out of the alarming rise of Islamophobia in Canada, said Senator Salma Ataullahjan, chair of the committee.

Police-reported hate crimes against Muslims in Canada rose from 84 incidents in 2020 to 144 incidents in 2021, according to Statistics Canada data.

Senator Salma Ataullahjan said the Senate Human Rights Committee will look into gender-based Islamophobia. (Min Dhariwal/CBC News)

“The only thing we find out is that it’s really bad for Muslim women,” Ataullahjan said on the CBC Radio show. Edmonton AM.

“We’re going to look at gender-based Islamophobia, and if you’re black and Muslim, your experiences are worse.”

Black Muslim women have been the target of a series of verbal and physical attacks in Edmonton over the past few years.

One of the victims said Edmonton police initially discouraged her from filing a report, an allegation Nur reported to the committee on Thursday.

Nur said black Muslim women need to be heard because they have been largely excluded from consultations to address violence.

“Black Muslim women need a space where they can add and contribute,” Nur said.

“I don’t see anyone here who is directly from this community.”

The “shocked” senator

British Columbia Senator Mobina Jaffer was shocked by what she heard about the Edmonton police and said the committee would follow up.

“To hear from the community that they had very little support from the police, that shocked me,” Jaffer said. “That’s not the image I have of our police.”

CBC News contacted the Edmonton Police Department for comment, but did not immediately respond.

On Wednesday, Senate committee members heard from Muslims and scholars in Vancouver. They will visit Quebec and Toronto in the coming weeks.

Their findings will form the basis of a report that will provide recommendations to the federal government on how to combat Islamophobia.

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