This month marks Islamic Heritage Month in Canada, observed federally since 2007 and in Ontario since 2016. Looking back on the past two decades, our Muslim community members have faced unprecedented increases in Islamophobic violence, discrimination, and exclusion. This October, as we hold space to honour the significant role that Muslim communities play in Canadian life, we must also underline the importance of eradicating all the ways that Islamophobic hatred continues to manifest in our society.
Last year HARRC Vice-Chair, Farhanna Khan spoke to the CBC News about collecting community responses from the Muslim Association of Hamilton (MAH). As a representative of MAH, Farhanna facilitated and presented recommendations to the Safe Schools: Bullying Prevention and Intervention Review Panel. Recommendations included more Muslim staff in leadership positions and representation within schools, counseling which includes programming developed for Muslims by Muslims, providing a safe and designated space for prayers, with a choice for time off for Friday prayers, and more celebrations of Muslim days of significance.
Without naming the issue of Islamophobia and taking active steps to counter the marginalization of Muslim voices in our society, we risk further hate being directed towards our friends, family, and community members. Just four months ago, London, Ontario, experienced the deadliest mass killing in the city's history, a horrific attack in which the killer targeted a family of five Muslim pedestrians with his truck. Our hearts remain with the families and friends of Yumna Afzaal, Madiha Salman, Talat Afzaal and Salman Afzaal, who lost their lives that day on June 6th, and with the one survivor, nine-year-old Fayez Afzaal.
This October, we want to reiterate our support of the diverse Islamic communities in Hamilton and the need for non-Muslim allies to stand united against all forms of Islamophobia and racialized violence.