February 6, 2023 / Toronto
OCASI – Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants welcomes the appointment of Amira Elghawaby as Special Representative on Combating Islamophobia, the first in Canada.
As a human rights advocate, journalist, commentator, educator, and collaborator, Amira has consistently advocated for the rights of those who are made vulnerable, marginalized or systemically targeted. She not only has vast experience and knowledge of working with Muslim communities, she has been a trusted ally for many other racialized, Indigenous, and faith-based communities who are also the target of racism, hate, and oppression.
We are fortunate to have known and worked with Ms. Elghawaby over many years on issues of racism, Islamophobia and anti-Semitism, and particularly on how Islamophobia is associated with anti-Black racism and women’s rights. We appreciate the attention she has paid to fostering greater and deeper tolerance and understanding across communities through bridge-building and cross-cultural communication. With her appointment we know Canada has a committed champion in the role of Special Representative.
We are deeply troubled by the negative rhetoric and abusive comments that followed soon after Ms. Elghawaby’s appointment, the calls for her resignation and calls to eliminate the role of Special Representative. The targeting of her and her position by people in power is irresponsible and is serving to escalate to a dangerous level the online vitriol of hate towards Ms. Elghawaby. These acts can also have an impact on Muslim communities, particularly racialized visibly Muslim women in Canada. In fact, these acts only confirm the need for a Special Representative, and the need to have a respected and recognized human rights advocate such as Amira – herself a visibly Muslim woman – appointed to the role.
We urge our elected representatives and community members to give Ms. Elghawaby your full and unreserved support in her role as Canada’s first Special Representative on Combating Islamophobia, and give her the opportunity to fulfil the promise it holds for all Canadians.
OCASI has signed an Open Letter from the Anti-Hate Community Leaders Group expressing solidarity with Ms. Elghawaby.