Calgarians launch anti-hate task force

Calgarians Against Racism Violence and Hate gather for the first time Friday night. Michael King / Global News

Recent attacks against racial and religious groups have sparked a group of Calgarians to create a new anti-hate task force.

Dozens of Calgarians from a wide range of cultural backgrounds filed into the Akram Jomaa Islamic Centre Friday night.

Junaid Mahoon, the head of the Islamic Centre of South Calgary, said he wished the meeting never needed to be held.

“But it is a necessity. It’s not just Canada, the world is ignorant,” Mahoon said. “Unfortunately, it brews further ignorance and hatred because people don’t know better.”

Friday marked the first gathering of the joint task force, organized by Calgarians Against Racism Violence and Hate (CARVH).

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The group is made up of concerned members from religious groups and cultural associations which Mukarram Zaidi with the Think for Action think tank said gives the group strength.

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“Coming together is for our children our community,” Zaidi said. “If we want to live together, we have to respect and love. We have to respect each other‘s culture and the way they live.”

The event that fast-tracked the creation of the group was the terrorist attack in Christchurch, New Zealand. In March, a self-proclaimed white supremacist killed 50 people at both a mosque and Islamic centre.

READ MORE: N.Z. mosque shooting suspect shows ‘no emotion’ as court orders mental health check

Organizers said hate-speech is also ramping up closer to home.

Mahoon said comments from some provincial candidates show that more needs to be done in Calgary.

“We have seen the hate narrative, in one form or the other, slowly brewing and spreading, especially at political times,” Mahoon said. “At the end of the day, we hold our values true. We are Canadians.”

CARVH’s next step is to commission a nationwide study that looks at racism, hatred and pre-existing stereotypes.

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