A coalition of Canadian Muslim leaders wants the federal government to recognize the day of the Quebec City mosque shooting as a national day of remembrance and action against Islamophobia.  

The call for declaring Jan. 29 a symbolic day against Islamophobia came in an open letter signed by Muslim leaders and addressed to the Canadian people and politicians.

The letter was read during a news conference on Parliament Hill Wednesday by Ihsaan Gardee, the executive director of the National Council of Canadian Muslims. 

He thanked Canadians for their demonstrations of solidarity that included symbolic rings of peace, vigils and flowers following the attack at the Centre Culturel Islamique de Québec that left six worshippers dead and 19 wounded.

But Gardee called on lawmakers to turn that concern into action. The letter outlined concrete steps that all three levels of government can take to curb systemic racism, and more specifically, Islamophobia.

Mohamed Yangui, president of the Centre Culturel Islamique de Québec, also urged the government to follow through.

"We hope our government follows the recommendations in the open letter, not only for the Muslim community but for all communities," he said.

Ihsaan Gardee

Gardee reads an open letter in Ottawa on Wednesday. (CBC)

Those steps include:

Municipal

  • Boost resources for local police services for training on how to deal with hate crimes and provide education, outreach to diverse communities.
  • Publicly release annual reviews of hate crimes.
  • Train officers in areas of bias-neutral policing.

Provincial

  • Establish an anti-racism directorate to examine issues of systemic racism and create and support public education campaigns.
  • Create mandatory course on systemic racism at secondary school level and make sure educators have training and resources for it.

Federal

  • Declare Jan. 29 a day of remembrance and action.
  • All members of Parliament to support Motion 103, which was tabled in December, and calls on the government to study ways to reduce or eliminate systemic racism and religious discrimination in Canada, including Islamophobia.

Quebec politicians reopen religious neutrality bill

Muslim leaders also condemned the tone at the National Assembly as "a return to religious hatred in Quebec."

On Tuesday, Quebec's National Assembly had its first sitting since the Christmas break and politicians were quick to continue their negotiations over which religious symbols could be worn in public.

Samer Majzoub, the president of the CMF, said a return to the heated, anti-religious rhetoric and debate in the province over identity is one of their main concerns in the aftermath of the mosque shooting.

He said the political rhetoric around the province's identity debate inflames bigotry and hatred. 

"We are so looking to the National Assembly to discuss how to fight hate and discuss how to be more inclusive, and not on the first day back, to talk about what created all those frictions," Majzoub said.