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Op-ed: Islamophobia is alive and well in Nova Scotia

KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – Islamophobia in Nova Scotia is for real. It must be called out. But first we must acknowledge that it exists.

Photo Youtube

The National Council of Canadian Muslims, which tracks anti-Muslim hate crimes in Canada lists only one such occurrence for Nova Scotia, and that was in 2013, when  a welcoming sign belonging to the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community which read: “Welcome to Sydney. Love for all, hatred for none” was vandalized in Sydney, Cape Breton.

No mosque shootings here. Nothing as blatant as the recent incident in a London, Ont. Sobeys, where a racist white man tried to make an entirely unwarranted citizen arrest.

In Nova Scotia Islamophobia manifests more subtly, witness this recent video of a dispute about garbage between an angry woman and a family with Arab roots having a cookout in one of the city’s parks.

The woman’s language is replete with Islamophobic and racist stereotypes.

There is her assumption that if some individuals who aren’t white leave garbage than everybody who looks like them shares in that guilt and is equally accountable. “Are you sure you’re not here every day littering the park? You must have a big family then.”

That immigrants aren’t Canadians. “If I were to go to your country and leave a mess, that’s not respectful.”

That all Muslim men are male chauvinists. “Make sure you don’t get your wife to get down and clean it. You clean it.”

That all immigrants came here on a boat:  “Your boat’s leaving!”

None of these comments necessarily make the woman in the video a bred in the bone racist. But racist it is. Her accusations align with those of countless commentators on news websites, on call in shows, and in casual conversations. These are comments that dehumanize Canadian Muslims and all racialized immigrants.   

In Nova Scotia we have been spared the headline-producing Islamophobia we have seen elsewhere in Canada, for now. But it’s here, just below the surface.  

What are we doing to put a stop to it?


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One Comment

  1. This type of racism/Islamophobia needs to be countered face to face, one at a time. Recording it and sharing it helps, (not sure about the power of shaming) but people like this need to know that society won’t tolerate it. And the family needs to know it too. Laying charges when appropriate, challenging them on the spot (where safe) and letting the victims know they are supported are the best way to counteract the negative rhetoric around immigration we are seeing. Government supported advertising setting the record straight would help too.

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