Amira Elghawaby — Canada’s Special Representative on Combatting Islamophobia — First Official Community Visit — London, Ontario

March 21st, 2023 Permalink

Canada’s anti-Islamophobia representative began an official tour of Community Visits with her first stop being London, Ontario, where a Muslim family was killed in June 2021 in what police describe as a hate-motivated attack.

The weekend before Ramadan, March 18 & 19 2023, Amira Elghawaby met with about 200 members of London’s Muslim community. — HïMY SYeD

“The call for the creation of a special office to combat Islamophobia came from Muslim communities across Canada, but most strongly from London Muslim communities,”

“I knew that I had to come to London.” — Amira Elghawaby

“It was very important for me, as the first official trip that I made within 30 days of taking office, to come to London to meet with its Muslim communities because of the tragedy that saw the loss of the beautiful members of the Afzaal family.

“Communities are still coping with the aftermath of that.

“This is where the recommendations to combating Islamophobia emerged, including the recommendation to create an office for a special representative on combatting Islamophobia, came loudest from London Muslims.

“I’ve come here to let people know the work is starting,

“That I’m beginning to consult with community members, starting with London’s Muslim community.” — Amira Elghawaby, in front of Mural painted by Yumna Afzaal. Sunday March 19 2023

( Photo Credit: Mike Hensen / The London Free Press )


“Last weekend, I was in London, Ontario to listen to various Muslim communities in the city talk about the challenges they continue to face and the efforts they are making to combat hate and Islamophobia, nearly two years after the tragic attack on the Afzaal family.” — Amira Elghawaby

( Photo credit : Amira Elghawaby )


“Le week-end dernier, j’étais à London (Ontario) pour écouter les communautés musulmanes parler des défis qu’elles rencontrent et des efforts qu’elles font pour lutter contre la haine et l’islamophobie, deux ans après l’attaque tragique contre la famille Afzaal.” — Amira Elghawaby

( Photo credit : Amira Elghawaby )


( Photo credit : Amira Elghawaby )


“At the moment, what I’m hoping to do through these consultations is to really hear the ways this office can start to advise and recommend policy change that will have impacts on people’s day-to-day lives.

“Safety and security are fundamental, then moving on to other facets.

“It’s been a listening tour here in London to help me identify where the work can begin.” — Amira Elghawaby

( Photo credit : Amira Elghawaby )


“Thank you Amira Elghawaby for making London your first stop in your official capacity as the Anti-Islamophobia Representative.

“We greatly enjoyed the lively discussion and meeting with you.

“We look forward to working with your office in tackling Islamophobia across Canada.” — Youth Coalition Combating Islamophobia

( Photo credit : Amira Elghawaby )


“During my visit, I met young Muslim women who create art, poetry, and a zine that will document their experiences with Islamophobia and their hope for a world where they are treated with dignity and respect.” — Amira Elghawaby

( Photo credit : Amira Elghawaby )


“Lors de ma visite, j’ai rencontré de jeunes musulmanes qui créent de l’art, de la poésie et un recueil pour partager leurs expériences de l’islamophobie et leur espoir d’un monde où elles sont traitées avec dignité et respect.” — Amira Elghawaby

( Photo credit : Amira Elghawaby )


“You do you”

“Always Don’t listen to haters”

( Photo credit : Amira Elghawaby )


“Stand up for yourself”

“My Hijab is empowering. I choose to wear it. It’s my right.”

( Photo credit : Amira Elghawaby )


“I was moved by the stories of hope and gratitude from the Muslim communities in London, including members of the affected families, who have received support from their fellow citizens.

“It helps provide comfort amidst the lingering fears that persist to this day.” — Amira Elghawaby

( Photo credit : Amira Elghawaby )


“J’ai été touchée par les récits d’espoir et de gratitude de la part des communautés musulmanes de London, y compris les membres des familles touchées, qui ont reçu le soutien de leurs concitoyens.

“Cela aide à apaiser les craintes constantes qui persistent à ce jour.” — Amira Elghawaby

( Photo credit : Amira Elghawaby )


“I met with groups of Muslim women and among them there was a woman who was a neighbour to the Afzaal family.

“To this day she can’t really go out into her backyard because she is reminded of just seeing Madiha and Salman there, they used to like to garden.

“It’s been very difficult for her.” — Amira Elghawaby

“I met Muslim women who say that if there’s a loud sound as they’re walking in the streets that they feel frightened.

“One young woman told me about her son feeling so frightened by loud noises that he’ll still push his mom into the sidewalk, away from the road.” — Amira Elghawaby

( Photo credit : Amira Elghawaby )


( Photo credit : Amira Elghawaby )


“I absolutely believe that London can be a model.

“The action plan to combat and disrupt Islamophobia certainly has a lot of really important recommendations and areas of work that are required at the municipal level.

“They presented this plan at a meeting of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities to demonstrate how other municipalities can look to see what’s happening here.

“It shouldn’t take an attack like what happened to the Afzaal family or the attack in Quebec City or the attack in Rexdale for there to be action to combat Islamophobia.

“Islamophobia is real and we see it in various ways and every order of government can indeed play a role in addressing it.” — Amira Elghawaby

( Photo credit : Amira Elghawaby )


Amira Elghawaby with Karen Vecchio, Member of Parliament for Elgin-Middlesex-London

“Elected officials from all levels of government and all political stripes have expressed their commitment to stand in solidarity with Muslim communities in the fight against hate, to promote inclusive communities for all, and to make our communities safe for everyone.” — Amira Elghawaby

( Photo credit : Amira Elghawaby )


“It was a pleasure to meet Amira Elghawaby this weekend.

“We share a commitment to work with members of the Muslim community in London to fight hate.

“Thank you to her for visiting our city, one that has been deeply impacted by Islamophobia.” — Peter Fragiskatos, Member of Parliament for London North Centre

( Photo credit : Amira Elghawaby )


“Des élus de tous les niveaux de gouvernement et de toutes les allégeances politiques se sont engagés à être solidaires envers les communautés musulmanes dans la lutte contre la haine, à promouvoir des communautés inclusives et les rendre sûres pour tous.” — Amira Elghawaby

The job of Canada’s Special Representative on Combatting Islamophobia is to influence the federal government to ensure Islamophobia doesn’t creep into legislation.

“I’m ready to have those difficult conversations and address the way that various pieces of legislation and policies in Canada may have a negative impacts on Muslim communities.” — Amira Elghawaby

( Photo credit : Amira Elghawaby )


“I thought it was unfortunate that she was called to apologize for calling out what a judge has already said is a discriminatory bill and for pointing out that a survey of Québécois actually found that there was a majority of support for Bill 21,

“I think the critique of Amira just speaks volumes to why her role is needed and while Islamophobia exists around the country,

“Bill 21 certainly is a symbolic manifestation of that piece.” — Nawaz Tahir, Lawyer and chair of Hikma, Muslim advocacy group in London, Ontario

( Photo Credit: Colin Butler/CBC News )

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