EDMONTON – The Alberta Muslim Public Affairs Council (AMPAC) has launched a toll-free Islamophobia help hotline for Muslims who have faced discrimination.
“We came together in terms of a community, to provide some sort of a support mechanism,” AMPAC president Khan Suri said.
Volunteers with backgrounds in social services, counselling and law will respond to complaints. In only a couple of days, the hotline has received a number of them already.
“Incidents have occurred in the past, but very rare. And lots of times, we take the understanding that a lot of things are just coming out of misunderstandings,” Suri told Global News.
Insp. Dan Jones said the Edmonton Police Service has been in touch with organizers and will work to ensure complaints are brought to their attention.
He said a meeting has been scheduled with AMPAC for next Wednesday. They plan on addressing a number of issues, including which complaints get sent to police.
“We want to do everything we can to work with the community,” Jones told Global News on Thursday. “I think every time these little things happen, it’s just another step in building trust and legitimacy for policing.”
“My only concerns are if someone’s in a situation where they need immediate assistance and instead of calling 911 – calls a hotline,” he said.
When asked about the extent of Islamophobia in Edmonton, Jones said while he has heard complaints anecdotally, many instances go undocumented.
“There’s people that have apologized for calling the police,” he said. “‘Oh, it’s over and there’s nothing happening right now’… so there’s the fear that they don’t have enough information. Sometimes there is a lack of trust in different communities, coming from a lived experience in a different place.”
Those who experience an Islamophobic encounter in Alberta can call 1-800-607-3312 and leave a message or they can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
AMPAC says they will receive a response within 24 hours.