November 17, 2015/Toronto – OCASI – Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants strongly condemns the recent arson attack on the Kawartha Muslim Religious Association's Masjid Al-Salaam in Peterborough, and the vandalism at the Ram Dham Hindu Temple in Kitchener.
The Council is concerned by these attacks as well as other escalating expressions of Islamaphobia, racism and xenophobia, which in our present reality are primarily targeting Muslims, and Canadian residents of Arab and South Asian background.
We are deeply disturbed that the many attacks around the world with tragic consequences for hundreds of civilians – in France, Kenya, Turkey, Egypt, Lebanon and Iraq - for which ISIS/ISIL has claimed responsibility, have resulted in a rise in hate and intolerance against Muslims here in Canada, many of whom have sought a safe haven here from persecution by those very forces.
The fact that some Canadians have chosen to respond by further targeting those who are already marginalized globally and here at home, including by calling for a halt to accepting refugees from Syria is completely unacceptable. In fact it is disgraceful.
As an organization committed to human rights and equity, and as the collective voice of Ontario's immigrant and refugee-serving sector, we say ‘Enough'. Let us work together to end this escalating cycle of violence.
Many of our civic and political leaders have taken a firm stand against these attacks. We encourage them to continue to do so, and encourage other leaders to add their voices and strength.
We are seeing an outpouring of support from the Peterborough communities and leaders for the Muslim community there. It is the best of who we are as Canadians and an example to the rest of the country and the world.
We call on our fellow Canadian residents to speak and act wherever you are and whenever you can, against expressions of intolerance, racism and xenophobia, particularly Islamaphobia.