Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Racist Slur on Canadian Mosque: Why Racist and Why Now? Libya No-Fly Zone? Afghanistan? Other?

Neighbours of the Masjid Al-Hidayah and Islamic Cultural Centre are reeling after racist graffiti was scrawled across the front of the Port Coquitlam mosque Wednesday night. See article Mosque sprayed with racist graffiti JENNIFER GAUTHIER/THE TRI-CITY NEWS

While the questions in the title of this post may seem disingenuous, I think they are relevant. This isn't the first time there has been defacement of  a Canadian mosque but more often the slurs and symbols are religious. This time the slur is clearly racist. In both instances, whether Islamophobic or racist, slurs of this nature would be considered hate crimes, and once reported to the police are investigated as such. In this case, the RCMP hate crimes unit has taken over the investigation.

Canada is part of the coalition enacting the no-fly zone, and other potential measures, voted by the UN in support of the Libyan people, against further humanitarian crimes by Gaddafi. 6 Canadian CF-18s are stationed in Italy at the ready, and a Canadian frigate is in Mediterranean waters just outside Libyan territory. 4 of the CF-18s and 2 refueling tankers were part of the no fly zone patrol on the northern coast of Libya on March 21.

While the House of Commons unanimously approved the Harper Government's decision to participate in the coalition, and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton likes to toss in our name among the coalition countries proving that the US is not dong this solo, I would imagine there are some Canadians who are not so happy about this.

Or maybe, they are meaning Afghanis, since most are unhappy with Canada's ongoing presence in Afghanistan as training troops, after 9 years of heavy combat. Many still can't find Afghanistan on a map.

Or maybe, this is about oil prices and prices at the gas pumps. That usually gets people anxious and riled.

Or maybe, these are drunk teenagers who know not truly what they write--like the three 17 year old high school students who spray painted an incoherent collage of Swastika, Star of David, and Crescent on a Palestinian cultural centre.

No matter. It is still a hate crime in Canada, and I am glad it is being investigated as such.

A phrase targeting Arabs was etched on the side of a mosque in Port Coquitlam. March 10, 2011. (CTV)

Racist graffiti sprayed on side of mosque
CTV News
CTV British Columbia
[nb Video on original site]

The RCMP's hate crime unit is investigating after racist graffiti was sprayed on the side of a Vancouver-area mosque.

A racial slur that targets Arabs was etched in large black letters onto the Islamic Cultural Centre in Port Coquitlam, east of Vancouver. The culprit would have had to scale a fence to have access to the building.

Omarr Khan drove by the scrawl and stopped his car immediately.

"I got on the phone to call the police but couldn't find the number for 911 non-emergency number. So by that time, this guy came and I just said, ‘let's just get it off,'" Khan said. He grabbed a watering hose from the side of the building and used it to spray the offensive words off the wall.

RCMP say they are treating the incident very seriously, and are appealing for witnesses to come forward.

Robert Newton, who prays at the mosque, says worshippers have used the building since 1994 without a problem.

"I was saddened but I believe it's an isolated incident, certainly not characteristic of our community," he said.

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Racist graffiti is seen on the side of the Masjid Al-Hidayah Islamic Centre. (Carmine Marinelli, QMI Agency)

Port Coquitlam mosque vandalism prompts hate-crime investigation
By Kelly Sinoski, Vancouver Sun March 12, 2011

METRO VANCOUVER - Police are investigating an incident of vandalism at a Port Coquitlam mosque as a potential hate crime, Coquitlam RCMP said Saturday.

A racial slur, that was spray painted on the Port Coquitlam Mosque and Islamic Cultural Centre, was discovered Thursday. The Coquitlam RCMP and B.C. Hate Crime unit are now investigating.

The Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations is calling on local politicians and the community to stand up against hate and racism after a racial slur was spray-painted on a Port Coquitlam Mosque and Islamic Cultural Centre.

"Attacks on any place of worship are deeply offensive and hurtful," Ihsaan Gardee, CAIR-CAN executive director said.

"These acts and the physical damage they cause represent cowardly attempts to intimidate and divide communities by further stigmatizing visible and vulnerable minorities."

Coquitlam RCMP Const. Kristina Biros said graffiti can have a negative impact on how safe people feel in their neighbourhoods. "And it's much more disturbing when the graffiti is a racial slur," she said.

Anyone with information about the incident is asked to the call Coquitlam RCMP at 604-945-1550 or CrimeStoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS) or online at www.solvecrime.ca

© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun

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Masjid Al Hidayah, Port Coquitlam, British Columbia, Canada. Webite for the mosque and the Islamic centre here.

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Your comments, thoughts, impressions, experiences?

Masjid Al Hidayah, Port Coquitlam, British Columbia, Canada. Webite for the mosque and the Islamic centre here.

3 comments:

jaraad said...

The graffiti is very offensive. For some reason I didn't expect such thing to happen in Canada. It is not something we hear very often.

Salma's Visual Notes said...

I heard that word a lot at UofT.
Libya is in Africa...I think that's a part of it.
Thanks for sharing.

Wendy said...

I was very shocked and saddened by this act. I'm not thinking Libya had anything to do with this because it happened before we got ourselves involved.

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