FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 2, 2017
The Urban Alliance on Race Relations condemns in the strongest possible terms the recent incidents of Islamophobia and antisemitism in Toronto. The fire set deliberately at the Reign of Islamic Da’Wah building and the spraying of urine on two Muslim men handing out copies of the Qur’an at the St. Lawrence Market are vile expressions of hatred that must have no place in our city. The swastikas and antisemitic statement left in a York University classroom are further examples of despicable speech intended to frighten a specific group. These are unacceptable as well.
These incidents fit into a deeply disturbing pattern. In January, six Muslim men were murdered in their mosque in Quebec, shot in the back by a white supremacist as they prayed. Jewish cemeteries in the United States have been vandalized, with hundreds of gravestones toppled. A coordinated wave of bomb threats against daycares at Jewish Community Centres across the US have left children and their families terrified.
We know what can happen on a far larger scale when this kind of violent prejudice goes unchecked. It must be stopped now, in its tracks.
We are heartened by the outpouring of community support in response to some of these incidents, particularly the fundraising campaign by two Muslim Americans that has raised over $155,000 to repair the Jewish cemeteries. This campaign stresses “the message of unity, tolerance, and mutual protection found in the Constitution of Medina: an historic social contract between the Medinan Jews and the first Muslim community.” It is this solidarity, between Muslims and Jews, and among all who recognize the necessity of inclusion and mutual respect, that is the way forward.
Founded in 1975, Urban Alliance on Racial Relations has worked with the community and the public and private sectors to provide educational programs and research to address racism and discrimination in our society. In light of these most recent hateful incidents, we call on our political leaders to speak out forcefully against discrimination in all its forms, particularly antisemitism and Islamophobia. Our diverse communities deserve no less.
Board of Directors, Urban Alliance on Race Relations