British Columbia

B.C. Islamophobia hotline receives a number of 'upsetting' calls

Lawyers with the legal hotline haven't compiled the exact number of calls, but say there have been some disturbing incidents reported.

Incidents include a woman whose hijab was pulled off in Vancouver to comments made by people on transit

Hasan Alam with the Islamophobia Legal Assistance hotline says Canadians should report instances of racism or Islamophobia. (Christer Waara)

Lawyers with the Islamophobia Legal Assistance Hotline in B.C. say they've received a number of calls in recent days about discrimination toward Muslims.

Hasan Alam, community liaison for the hotline, said while they haven't compiled the exact number of calls, there have been some "upsetting" incidents reported.

"They've ranged from comments being made on transit, and in one instance, a woman's hijab was pulled off her head while walking on the street [in Vancouver]," said Alam.

Hasan said the hotline was launched in B.C. last March in response to a report by the National Council of Canadian Muslims. It found the number of Islamophobic incidents is on the rise.

People can call the hotline to report incidents and receive confidential and free legal advice.

"I think British Columbians are by and large tolerant, but I don't think we can draw dichotomies between tolerance and not being tolerant," said Alam.

"I think there's a lot of grey there where instances of hate do occur."

Trump effect and Quebec city mosque attack

Alam pointed to the recent attack at a Quebec city mosque as proof that Islamophobia exists in Canada.

He said policies coming into effect in the U.S. — such as President Donald Trump's executive order banning citizens from seven-majority Muslim countries — could make the situation worse.

"Canadians are being further exposed to a similar but more extreme form of Islamophobic and xenophobic rhetoric from the Trump administration in the U.S.," said Alam.

"These sorts of rhetoric give tacit approval for anti-Muslim bigotry and have contributed toward making Muslim Canadians more vulnerable."