In recent light of the terrorist attacks in France, there’s been an outpour of support and sympathy for the victims and their loved ones. Despite this support, there has also been underlying fear and anger within France and across the globe. Certain communities have become victims of racist slurs, violence and hate crimes.
What is a hate crime?
According to the Criminal Code of Canada hate crimes consist of crimes committed to intimidate, harm, or terrify an entire group of people (i.e. race or ethnicity) to which the victim belongs. Victims are targeted for belonging to that particular group, not because of their personal actions. Motives for hate crime include intimidation, harassment, physical force/threat of physical force against a person, group or property.
Hate Crime in Ontario
Since the attack in France, there have been multiple examples of hate crimes. The windows of a Hindu temple in Waterloo were broken while the pandit (priest) was at a vigil for the victims of the attack in France. A mosque in Peterborough was burnt down and suffered over $80,000 in damages. Fortunately, the community came together and raised $90,000 to rebuild the mosque. The police declared it to be arson. Someone altered a thirteen year old Sikh boy’s picture on Facebook to look like a terrorist. The person who altered the picture using Photoshop then suggested the young boy was involved in the Paris attack.
The most recent hate crime consisted of a Muslim woman who was the target of a robbery. The victim was picking up her children from school when the assailant, who was identified as a Caucasian male, grabbed the garb on the woman’s head to throw her to the ground. He then continued to physically assault the woman by punching her stomach. As the woman pleaded with the man to stop, he told her she didn’t belong in Canada and referred to her as a piece of sh-t. This particular assault is being treated as a hate crime.
Numerous Muslims feel targeted by Islamophobes and feel like they’re receiving the brunt for actions they had no part in and do not condone. Muslims have taken to social media to advocate against the terrorist attacks and argue that the Quran does not teach Muslims to kill innocent people. Many Islamist sympathizers have gone far as to say that ISIS does not have a religion as no religion preaches terror. However, individuals continue to target these groups. Many members of the Hindu and Sikh community have also been victims of racial slurs and verbal abuse as individuals are not able to differentiate between religions.
Many South Asians are disturbed by how quickly attitudes towards their cultures and religions have pivoted; after all, only recently many South Asians were rejoicing at the appointment of a Sikh defense minister and today many South Asians are suffering from the backlash of events they had no part in. While some individuals from the Sikh, Hindu and Muslim community are optimistic that the racism and hate will deplete after the shock has settled, others are still concerned about the future impact of similar attacks.
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Points of Discussion: What are your thoughts?
Do you know someone who was the victim of hate slurs?