October 7, 2023, marks the escalation of Israel’s siege of Gaza. For the last three months, many local communities in Gaza and Israel have been impacted. However, it is not only those communities that have been affected but individuals outside of these areas as well.
January 2024 marks not only the beginning of a new year, but the continuation of increasing rates of Islamophobia and antisemitism in Canada.
Only a few days after October 7, a University of Toronto Mississauga (UTM) student posted a hateful message on social media. While it remains unclear what the message read, Campus Safety and Peel Regional Police acted quickly by arresting and charging the student. The university also banned the student from any U of T campus.
On October 15, hours after the arrest, vice-president and principal Alexandra Gillespie issued a written statement addressing the hate-related incident. The statement iterated U of T’s commitment to keep all campuses a safe place to learn, live, and work.
“Antisemitism, Islamophobia, racism, hate, and discrimination of any kind have no place on our campus,” wrote Gillespie.
All students are encouraged to contact Campus Safety or 911 and download the U of T Safety App if they encounter such incidents.
The growing rates of Islamophobia and antisemitism have raised concern among not only U of T students but many Canadians.
Uthman Quick, the director of communications at the National Council of Canadian Muslims, told Global News that there has been “an increase of 1,000 per cent of actual incidents of Islamophobia” across Canada. These incidents have taken various forms, including verbal abuse, racist language toward children and hijab-wearing women, workplace intimidation, and more.
Meanwhile, many members of the Jewish community are also concerned for their safety. Michael Mostyn, the chief executive officer of the Jewish advocacy group B’nai Brith Canada, told Global News that Canadian Jews have felt targeted in their communities, places of worship, and schools. On October 12, 2023, two teenage boys and a 20-year-old man were arrested in Toronto after making threats toward a Jewish high school.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has also commented on the increase of Islamophobia and antisemitism in Canada, describing the rise in the incidents as “terrifying.” “This needs to stop,” he stated. “This is not who we are as Canadians. This is something that is not acceptable in Canada, period.”
Members of both communities are calling for a cease-fire and an end to the increasing rates of hate crimes and threats.