ATTACK ON MONTREAL MOSQUE: AUTHORITIES AND COMMUNITIES MUST TAKE TOUGH ACTION AGAINST HATE CRIMES
Montreal, May 25, 2014 --- The recent violent attack against a Mosque in Montreal’s East end by a man yielding a sabre should be automatically considered a hate-motivated crime and prosecuted as such, according to Bashir Hussain, a CRARR spokesperson.
Earlier this week, the police arrested the man who threw a Molotov cocktail at the Mosque. He was tasered by the police when he threatened the officers with a sabre. According to news reports, the Mosque has been the target of numerous acts of hate-based vandalism in recent weeks.
Since the previous provincial government, led by the Parti Québécois, introduced the Charter of Quebec Values (later known as Bill 60), the social climate in Montreal worsened with divisive debates with xenophobic undertones and reports of acts of violence against persons and properties from racialized and religious communities (particularly the Muslim community). Despite many reported incidents in different parts of Montreal, the Montreal Police and other authorities have been discreet about data on hate-motivated crimes based on race, ethnicity and religion. Contrary to other cities such as Toronto, detailed statistics on hate crimes are not published annually, despite requirements of national reporting on such crimes.
CRARR is disturbed by the silence of authorities and leaders of civil society about these violent attacks on this Mosque and others. It is particularly concerned about the reluctance of the media and other authorities to use the words “hate-motivate crimes” in describing these incidents.
CRARR reminds Quebecers of all backgrounds that all criminal acts motivated by hate based on race, religion, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation are subject to harsher sentences under the Criminal Code, and that attacks against religious properties (but not other institutions belonging to faith communities) are specifically forbidden by s. 320 of the Code. Despite such statutory provisions, Crown prosecutors must raise them for a judge to impose said stiffer penalties. This situation can remain a challenge for victims since many communities vulnerable to hate crimes are not informed of their rights, and prosecutors can be reluctant to invoke such sections of the Code.
Hate-motivated crimes also violate equality and dignity principles that are protected by the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms. Victims of hate crime can and should file complaints of discrimination against identifiable authors of these hateful acts, which can lead the courts to impose damages against these perpetrators.
In the past, CRARR has successfully helped victims in the cases of a Black man who was stabbed by Neo-Nazis in the East end of Montreal, a South Asian couple who was subject to “Paki-bashing” in a South-West end by white thugs, and a gay couple in the West-Island who was continuously exposed to homophobic harassment in their neighborhood. In these cases, the Human Rights Tribunal imposed stiff financial penalties on the perpetrators.
CRARR encourages victims of hate-motivated crimes, especially members of racialized, religious and sexual minorities (three groups most exposed to hate crime in Canada), to take legal action against the authors of these crimes. It calls on the Director of Prosecution Office to ensure that all hate-motivated crimes are properly prosecuted and that heightened sentences be imposed by the judiciary in these cases. It also calls upon the Montreal Police to make public, on an annual basis, detailed data on hate crime, a request it has regularly made to the City of Montreal since 9-11.
“We have nothing to fear because we are full and equal citizens, and because hate crime and hate criminals have no place in a pluralistic and modern democracy like ours,” said Mr. Hussain.