SHAFAQNA -Â A Muslim national civil rights organization is launching an online map to track anti-Muslim incidents and hate crimes in real-time in an effort to raise awareness and encourage people to come forward with their experiences.
The National Council of Canadian Muslims says it believes many Muslims face discrimination and hate, but are reluctant to report it or donâ€™t know how to go about it.
â€œHate crime is one of the most under-reported crimes in Canada,â€ said Amira Elghawaby, the groupâ€™s human rights co-ordinator. â€œThere is often reluctance to go public or go to the police, because people donâ€™t want to bring attention to themselves or donâ€™t think anything will come out it.â€
Muslims who believe they have faced a hate crime or incident can go to the groupâ€™s website toÂ document the event, and will be contacted by the group to verify the nature of the incident. The group will automatically update information that has been documented in police reports or in the media.
Elghawaby says the online map will differentiate between hate crimes and hate incidents. In Canada, hate crimes include advocating genocide, public incitement of hatred, wilful promotion of hatred and mischief motivated by hate in relation to religious property.
Data on hate incidents, such as being called a â€œterroristâ€ or a â€œstupid Muslim,â€ is not often captured or seen anywhere, so â€œwe donâ€™t necessarily know whatâ€™s going on or what people are experiencing,â€ said Elghawaby.
She says the group often receives calls from people who report having anti-Muslim slurs yelled at them â€” but are told thereâ€™s little recourse and not much for the police to investigate.
On Tuesday, Statistics Canada will be releasing the annual hate crime data for 2013, compiling police data from across the country. According to data from 2012, there were 45 hate crimes against Muslims and 242 against the Jewish community. Most of the crimes were non-violent and included mischief, such as vandalism.
Elghawaby says because of the diversity of the Muslim community, hate crimes against Muslims can be classified under race instead of religion, even when the motivating factor is unknown.
â€œOften for Muslims, it seems like it is an ethnic hate crime, but there might be an intersection of religion and race that is not accurately being reported,â€ she said.
The National Council of Canadian Muslims will be launching the map and an educational awareness campaign around hate crime at a press conference Tuesday.
More information can be found on the groupâ€™s website atÂ www.nccm.ca.