Manitoba Islamic Association surveys community about experience with Islamophobia

The Manitoba Islamic Association's survey comes after the federal government held a national summit on Islamophobia, following the deaths of four members of a Muslim family run down by a driver in London, Ont., while out for a walk.

Survey follows national summit on Islamophobia prompted by London, Ont., attack that killed 4 family members

Manitoba Islamic Association vice-chair Tasneem Vali wants the federal government to take stronger action against Islamophobia in Canada. (CBC)

The Manitoba Islamic Association is asking Muslims living in the province to take an online survey about their experiences and perspectives on the topic of Islamophobia in light of a number of attacks across the country. 

This week the federal government held a national summit on Islamophobia, after four members of a Muslim family were killed earlier this year in London, Ont.

The members of the family were hit by truck while they were out for a walk in June. Police believe they were intentionally attacked. A nine-year-old boy was the only survivor.

The vice-chair of the Manitoba Islamic Association says she appreciates that the government is addressing hate, but says action is needed now.

"After that attack with that family, there were more," Tasneem Vali said in a Saturday interview with CBC Manitoba's Weekend Morning Show.

"There were women whose hijabs were pulled off in Alberta. In Saskatchewan, I believe, there was a man whose beard was cut off. Another very recently in Ontario where a prayer leader's family was harassed," she said.

"It hasn't stopped.... It almost seems like things have escalated."

Islamophobia can take many shapes and forms, Vali said. The association's survey, which can be completed online, aims to understand different Muslims' definitions of Islamophobia, experiences with it and any changes people have perceived.

Vali said she defines it as "a fear of somebody or something or practices or beliefs that are different than your own, and not accepting those differences could also be OK."

It's something she says she's experienced personally as a woman who wears a hijab.

"A lot of times people have this perception ... women should be allowed to wear what they want to wear. But, you know, I am allowed to wear what I want to wear. I want to wear the hijab," she said.

"I'm not being oppressed. It's not against women's rights."

WATCH | Muslims call for action after federal Islamophobia summit:

Muslim community wants action after Islamophobia summit

2 months ago
After a national summit on Islamophobia, many members of the Muslim community want Ottawa to create a more concrete plan of action including Criminal Code amendments to better deal with hate crimes. 1:52

In light of the national summit, Vali says the federal government must take a stronger stance against oppression and systemic racism, including condemning Quebec's Bill 21, which bans the wearing of religious symbols in certain places.

A step toward acceptance of Muslims would be to see Islamic holidays like Eid al-Adha and Eid al-Fitr recognized as statutory holidays in Canada, she said.

"When little things like that are recognized, it goes a long way, I believe."

She also says groups like teachers and police should get sensitivity training to prevent Islamophobia. 

Left unchecked, hate can have deadly results and instill fear.

Community members have been deeply afraid since the family in London was killed, she says.

"People are having conversations with their daughters who are hijabi, who are very visible as Muslims, to be vigilant. I think those conversations were not had before."

Vali says the results of the survey will be compiled into a report including some calls to action, and the association will host an online town hall to discuss the results.

The Manitoba Islamic Association is conducting an online survey for Muslims living in the province to find out more about their experiences facing Islamophobia. The association's vice chair, Tasneem Vali, joined Bruce Ladan on the Weekend Morning Show. 10:17

With files from Bruce Ladan