In the last school year, racists attacked Muslim children in schools across Canada. In Red Deer, a school yard spat involving Syrian kids was used by the WCAI and other racist groups to organize rallies against ‘Islamic terror in schools.’ In Halifax, while the regular Chronical Herald staff were locked out, a reporter published an unsubstantiated story about violence by a Muslim child at Chebucto Elementary School, which caused an uproar and was later retracted. In the Peel region, the fight to retain religious accomodation for all faiths became a serious confrontatoin. In the end religious accommodation in schools was retained, however, a Quran was ripped up, a reward was offered for pictures of Muslim children praying (presumably taken without their permission), and racists rallied outside schools, and truly reprehensible things were said. In Calgary, racist graffiti was found on schools. In Quebec, Djemila Benhabib is facing slander charges for likening a Muslim school to militant Islamic training camps in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Discredited, hate mongering, right wing populists like Ann Coulter and Faith Goldy, two recent examples, are becoming more frequent guests on Canadian campuses. I am saddened to say that this is by no means an exhaustive list of racist organizing and attacks which happened recently, and which colour September and ‘back to school’ for me this year.
In almost every one of these cases, the racists were eventually outnumbered as communities rallied against them. However, the islamophobia and racism continue to simmer and we need to continue to build our ability to combat them. Two great guides were published by the Southern Poverty Law Centre to help organizers. Ten ways to fight hate: A Community Response Guide is a basic guide to community organizing, and The Alt-Right on Campus: What Students Need to Know is focused on the surge of alt-right speakers speaking at colleges and how to combat their messages. Thank you SPLC for all you do.