Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau acknowledged Monday a "disturbing rise" in anti-Muslim hate incidents in the country as Canadian Muslims marked seven years since the deadly shootings at Quebec City mosque.
Six men were shot to death by a lone gunman and 19 others were wounded on Jan. 29, 2017, while attending evening prayers at the Islamic Cultural Centre of Quebec City.
The crime shocked the entire country at the time. However, seven years later and despite the appointment of a federal representative to combat Islamophobia, hate incidents are increasing.
"Canada’s Muslim communities across the country have experienced a disturbing rise in hate speech, discrimination and Islamophobia," Trudeau said in a statement.
"This is absolutely unacceptable and we will continue to take action so that Canadians can feel safe and secure in their homes, communities and places of worship," he added.
But more action is needed, advocates insist.
The National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM), citing the mosque attack and the murder of four members of a Muslim family in 2021 in London, Ontario, urged action to stem hate incidents.
"It is time for all of us to step up ...and ask your local city officials and businesses to step up in the battle against Islamophobia," the NCCM said in a statement.
Fareed Khan, founder of the anti-racism activist group Canadians United Against Hate, criticized Ottawa’s inaction.
"Eleven Canadian Muslims have been murdered in acts of hate since 2017, but the Trudeau government has been reluctant to even take symbolic actions to address the concerns of Canadian Muslims around hate against the community," he said.
"While the government declared a National Day of Action Against Islamophobia (every Jan. 29) and appointed a special representative on combatting Islamophobia, these actions were taken only after years of lobbying by Canadian Muslims."
Khan said Trudeau’s refusal to condemn Israel for its attacks on Palestinians in Gaza has also fueled Islamophobia.
To mark the Quebec mosque attack, monuments across the country were bathed in green light, including the British Columbia legislature building. Green is the color of the carpet in the mosque where the shootings occurred and is considered sacred in Islam.
A remembrance ceremony was scheduled at the Islamic Cultural Centre of Quebec City on Monday evening with Trudeau in attendance.