Mayor asks Trudeau for help in battle against anti-Semitism and Islamophobia in Edmonton

Click to play video: 'Israel-Hamas deal: 50 hostages in Gaza to be released in exchange for temporary ceasefire'
Israel-Hamas deal: 50 hostages in Gaza to be released in exchange for temporary ceasefire
Approval for a deal that would see Hamas exchange 50 Israeli hostages for 150 Palestinian prisoners came overnight with the Israeli government clearing the final hurdle. Mike Armstrong has more – Nov 22, 2023

Edmonton mayor Amarjeet Sohi is reaching out to the prime minister, adding his call for a ceasefire in Gaza and Israel, and requesting support responding to racism and hate at home.

In a letter dated Nov. 21, Sohi adds his support for calls for an immediate ceasefire, safe evacuation for the remaining Canadians still in the region, a release of all hostages and unrestricted aid to address the humanitarian crisis.

“Although the conflict is happening thousands of miles away, for many Edmontonians, it is incredibly personal,” Sohi wrote. “My office has received an unprecedented amount of correspondence from Edmontonians with over 3,000 emails, hundreds of social media mentions, and many phone calls urging action for the safety of Palestinian and Israeli people.”

Click to play video: 'Middle East violence prompts Edmonton protest: ‘Our community is really, really scared’'
Middle East violence prompts Edmonton protest: ‘Our community is really, really scared’

Israel’s Cabinet on Wednesday approved a temporary cease-fire with the Hamas militant group that is expected to bring the first halt in fighting in a devastating six-week conflict and win freedom for dozens of hostages held captive in the Gaza Strip.

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The deal calls for a four-day cease-fire, during which Israel will halt its military offensive in Gaza while Hamas frees “at least” 50 of the roughly 240 hostages it and other militants are holding, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said. The first hostages to be released are women and children.

Click to play video: 'Anti-Muslim hate crime investigations ongoing in Edmonton'
Anti-Muslim hate crime investigations ongoing in Edmonton

In his letter, Sohi also asks the federal government for support “to protect religious and cultural facilities from hate and violence in Edmonton.”

“Locally, Edmonton is experiencing a concerning escalation of anti-Semitism and Islamophobia,” Sohi wrote. “I have heard from many Edmontonians who are feeling unsafe. I have spoken with and heard stories from many Jewish and Muslim community members who feel and experience targeted hate at schools, places of worship and in public spaces.”

Sohi said he takes these concerns extremely seriously.

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“There is no place for hate in Edmonton.”

The mayor explained the steps Edmonton has taken to combat racism and hatred, including creating an online platform to quickly identify symbols of hate, providing operational support and grant funding to communities and organizations to fight hate and racism, and the city’s Anti-Racism Strategy.

“I also urge the government of Canada to support local community-based organizations, including the City of Edmonton, to better support initiatives to respond to and prevent anti-Semitism and Islamophobia.”

— With files from Josef Federman and Jack Jeffery, The Associated Press

Click to play video: 'Support growing for Edmonton mayor’s comments on Middle East conflict'
Support growing for Edmonton mayor’s comments on Middle East conflict

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