A joint symposium was held by the “Canadian Institute of Islamic Civilization” (CIIC), and the Canadian Muslim Forum (FMC-CMF) at the CIIC centre downtown Montreal at 6:30 p.m. on Friday. The topic of "Islamophobia: the past, present, and the upcoming federal elections” was discussed, and the meeting was marked by noticeable presence of youth, who were the most interactive.
The opening speech was made by President of the Canadian Muslim Forum, Samer Majzoub, who elaborated on the nature of Islamophobia, indicating its threat to society as a whole, and noting that “the terrorist acts committed in Canada, as the Quebec City mosque massacre and the London, Ontario family massacre, are nothing but compelling evidence of the impact of Islamophobia on the security and safety of society at large".
During the symposium, Majzoub touched upon the first press conference held by the Canadian Muslim Forum in 1994, which followed the expulsion of a hijabi teenage girl, whose family had recently converted to Islam, from her public school because of her new hijab.
Majzoub recalled the stages of establishing the first committee of the CMF in 2009, whose mission was to spread awareness and expose the dangers of Islamophobia – a phenomenon of hatred and extremism. Majzoub explained, "The committee has faced a set of challenges during its work at all levels, be they communal, social, political, or media-related."
2010 witnessed the first presentation on Islamophobia at the official political level, through a delegation formed by the CMF, which met all parliamentary blocs in the House of Commons in Ottawa. On that day, for the first time in Canada's history, a press conference was held on Islamophobia in Parliament's press room. Moreover, Majzoub touched on the parliamentary visit and the details of the meetings.
He pointed out in his discourse that "a milestone was made in 2016 – a pivotal and a historical development with a very positive impact on dealing with Islamophobia in Canada. This was initially represented by the CMF that launched a national parliamentary petition, collecting nearly seventy thousand signatures. Continuous, hard work with the federal parties ensued, eventually persuading them to federally condemn Islamophobia.
Passing the motion to condemn Islamophobia in Parliament is of political, unique significance in the Western World. Perhaps one of the most positive outcomes was making Islamophobia a Canadian national issue rather than a matter confined to a single community."
Majzoub pointed out, too, that "this important transformation was paralleled by steps meant to deal seriously with hatred and Islamophobic sentiments that the country had been witnessing, and that led to the “National Action Summit on Islamophobia."
Majzoub concluded his talk by stressing the need to focus on maintaining joint efforts, emphasizing that “achievements have been made – thank God the Almighty – but combined work, patience and cooperation should be non-stop. The road to fighting Islamophobia in the country is still long and requires continuity, professionalism and collective work.” He as well pointed out “it was important to place and prioritize the fight against Islamophobia on the platforms of the parties and candidates currently running for office.”
CIIC Director Iyad Abu Hamed, in his speech, talked about "the remarkable presence of youth in the symposium and the importance of their role them in defending the community’s human rights in Quebec and Canada." Abu Hamed raised attention as to "the weak interaction and indifference that some youth may show regarding actualities, which means a current and future setback for the fight against Islamophobia and the community’s basic rights in Canada."
In closing notes, both Samer Majzoub and Iyad Abu Hamed stressed the need for large participation in voting on Election Day on September 20th, 2021.