Edmonton

Alberta's new Islamophobia hotline receives dozens of calls

An Alberta-wide hotline to help people report incidents of vandalism or discrimination related to Islamophobia has received 53 calls since it was launched about three weeks ago.

Hotline has had 53 calls in first three weeks of operation

A mosque in Cold Lake was defaced with racist graffiti in 2015. (Tumblr)

An Alberta-wide hotline to help people report incidents of vandalism or discrimination related to Islamophobia has received 53 calls since it was launched about three weeks ago.

The organization behind the hotline says it is difficult to gauge whether that represents a high number of calls.

"We'll consider it successful when we don't get any calls," said Mustafa Farooq, vice-president of public policy at the Alberta Muslim Public Affairs Council.
'As a Canadian, and an Albertan it is a little discouraging,' Mustafa Farooq with the Alberta Muslim Public Affairs Council said of the number of calls to the group's Islamaphobia hotline.

But from a pragmatic perspective, Farooq said the hotline has been successful since it has received "a large volume of calls," though not all have been legitimate.

"Some of those have been Islamophobic calls," he said. "We've had people call in and leave messages like, 'Muslims are animals and they shouldn't be here in Canada.' "

AMPAC is investigating "roughly 30" of the calls received, Farooq said.

Five callers have been encouraged to file reports with police in either Calgary or Edmonton, or with the RCMP, he said.

The organization has also received six emails, two of which are also being reviewed.

Local woman posts her experience on Facebook

Last Friday, an Edmonton woman posted on Facebook about her experience with Islamophobia.

Nadia Fatah wrote that when she boarded the LRT at Coliseum Station, "another passenger right behind me (white male) goes, 'Great we got a terrorist on the train with us,' (laughing loudly with his friends).

"I decided to pretend like I didn't hear him," Fatah wrote. "Mainly because I'm scared for my safety as they are sitting directly behind me and I'm traveling alone. He continues to go, 'Yeah she's a ni****er too.' "

Fatah, who is black and wears the hijab, wrote that she was "shocked and scared" and couldn't muster the courage to say anything.

Someone she told about the incident referred her to the Islamophobia hotline.

Investigations underway

That is one case the group is now investigating, Farooq said, and therefore he declined comment on it specifically, except to say it was recommended to Fatah that she file a report with Edmonton police through their hate crimes hotline.

Edmonton Police confirm that a complaint was filed.

Farooq said it's difficult to explain how he feels about the volume of calls coming in to the hotline.

"As a Canadian, and an Albertan, it is a little discouraging," Farooq said. "But also optimistic, in the sense that we've received so much support from our community, we've received a lot of support from police services. We look forward to making our Alberta a healthy, safe space for everyone."

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