QUEEN’S PARK — Rima Berns-McGown, MPP for Beaches-East York, introduced a private member’s bill this week proposing to proclaim Jan. 29 each year a Day of Remembrance and Action on Islamophobia in Ontario.
Rima Berns-McGown with Mohammed Hashim from the Urban Alliance on Race Relations and Anver Emon from the University of Toronto Faculty of Law and the Institute for Islamic Studies at a March 22 press conference talking about the introduction of Bill 83.
Jan. 29 marks the anniversary of the hate-fuelled act of terrorism in which a gunman opened fire on peaceful worshippers at the Islamic Cultural Centre of Quebec City in 2017. The gunman killed six people and injured 19. Proclaiming a Day of Remembrance and Action on Islamophobia has taken on renewed importance after the devastating terrorist attack in New Zealand last week, which similarly targeted mosques.
“To invade sacred spaces where people are observing their faith makes these hate-fuelled attacks especially egregious,” said Berns-McGown. “As the world mourns once again, this latest act of violence is a painful reminder of why Ontarians of all race, creed and faith must come together in solidarity with Muslims, to name Islamophobia when we see it, to name hate crimes when they’re committed, and to name terrorism when it’s perpetrated.”=
“We remember Ibrahima Barry, Mamadou Tanou Barry, Khaled Belkacemi, Aboubaker Thabti, Abdelkrim Hassane and Azzedine Soufiane, whose lives were cut short in the Quebec attack. And as we remember, we recommit ourselves to take action to stamp out hate, racism and Islamophobia.”
The Quebec attack prompted the Ontario Human Rights Commission to point out that governments have a role to play in ending Islamophobia.
“Ending Islamophobic hate is a non-partisan issue, and I hope my colleagues from both sides of the aisle will come together to support this important legislation.”
The Day of Remembrance and Action on Islamophobia Act carried on first reading on March 19. If the act becomes law, Ontario would join Toronto, Mississauga, Brampton, Markham and Hamilton in recognizing a Day of Remembrance and Action on Islamophobia on Jan. 29.
Video of press conference here.
You can read the full bill here.