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Muslim groups call for action on Islamophobia

Haroon Bouazzi of AMAL-Quebec, a Quebec human rights group, speaks as leaders of national and Quebec organizations joined the National Council of Canadian Muslims to call on governments to counter Islamophobia, racism and discrimination, on Parliament Hill on Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2017 in Ottawa.
Haroon Bouazzi of AMAL-Quebec, a Quebec human rights group, speaks as leaders of national and Quebec organizations joined the National Council of Canadian Muslims to call on governments to counter Islamophobia, racism and discrimination, on Parliament Hill on Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2017 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

Muslim leaders sent a letter to the Canadian Parliament on Wednesday asking it to ‘take action’ against Islamophobia.

The recommendations from the group include the creation of a mandatory course in secondary schools on several forms of systemic violence at the provincial level.

Sabrina Sassi, PHD student at Universite Laval, says the course could counter racism early on.

“I am asking the government to provide this course to give our youth methods of uniting Canada,” the former Ste-Foy community member said.

WATCH: Battling Islamophobia in the House of Commons

Click to play video: 'Battling Islamaphobia in the House of Commons' Battling Islamaphobia in the House of Commons
Battling Islamaphobia in the House of Commons – Feb 1, 2017

The letter comes in the wake of the attack on the Centre Centre Culturel Islamique de Quebec on Jan. 29.

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“The attack was a wake-up call that hate can kill,” Amira Elgehawaby, communications director for the National Council of Canadian Muslims, said in an interview.

“That’s why it’s important to take action now.”

Leaders also called for Canadians to support motion 103, a private member’s bill calling on the federal government to study methods to reduce Islamophobia and other results of systemic racism. The bill is the latest in several commissions brought forward to study different forms of racism in Canada.

“Canadians are not racist – our systems are,” Haroon Bouazzi, the representative of AMAL-Quebec said in French. “That’s why we need to evaluate the systems we have in place.”

To counter systemic racism, the report recommends a boost of resources for local police services to monitor, train and record instances of hate crimes and racism.

Critics of motion 103 say that there is no set definition of hate crimes against Muslims in the bill, but Elgehawaby is optimistic that Canadians want to act.

“There were signs that said ‘We are United.’ The message is already out there, so fellow Canadians are very keen to bring this forward.”

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Motion 103 is to be debated next week, while conversations are expected continue at the municipal and provincial levels.

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