Police Worried About Hate-Motivated Incidents in Mississauga
After months of heated—and sometimes borderline hysterical—protests over a long-standing Peel District School Board (PDSB) religious accommodation policy, Peel police have announced that they're concerned about recent hate-motivated incidents in Brampton and Mississauga (and the overall Peel community in general).
Recently, Peel police Chief Jennifer Evans spoke out about the force's concerns in a YouTube video.
"I'm very concerned about the hate-motivated incidents occurring in the region of Peel," Evans said. "On April 19, during my Muslim community advisory committee meeting, which includes leaders from the Muslim council of Peel, we talked about our shared interests in ensuring the safety of those reporting hate crimes. I want to assure you that when we receive reports that raise concerns for the community, we act immediately."
Evans' comments follow weeks of raucous debate over Muslim prayer in public schools—a debate that's become even more hostile following the passage of the largely symbolic M-103 anti-religious discrimination motion tabled by Mississauga-Erin Mills MP Iqra Khalid.
Coupled with fear over M-103, the current controversies kicked into high gear after the PDSB agreed to allow Muslim students to resume saying their own sermons during Friday prayers.
While some argued that their chief concern was the supposed incursion of religion into secular institutions, others said the children would secretly pray for the annihilation of western society. The board has had to beef up security at meetings, some of which have ended in shouting matches and, in one instance, a man tearing pages out of a qu'ran.
Recently, a Mississauga imam announced that he has been receiving death threats after advocating for the Muslim students who wanted to say their own prayers.
While hate and bias crimes can be difficult to prosecute, police appear to believe that there's reason to be concerned about growing hatred in the region.
According to the Criminal Code the definition of a "hate/bias crime" refers to a criminal act committed against a person or property that is motivated solely or in part by the offender's hate/bias or prejudice based on race, national or ethnic origin, language, colour, religion, sex, age, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation, or similar factor. Following an investigation, the Crown Attorney is provided with full disclosure in order to determine if incidents meet the criteria noted above.
"It is critically important to strengthen relationships and awareness between religions, and communities, ensuring equality, acceptance and mutual respect," Peel police wrote in a statement. "Our Diversity Relations Bureau has been tracking trends and patterns in conjunction with community partners such as our Community Advisory Committees, working to educate the public and raise awareness about incidents of hate-motivated crimes.
The latest statistics on hate crimes will soon be released via the Police Services Board.
Police are asking anyone who feels you have been the victim of a hate crime contact our Hate Crime Hotline at 905-456-5905.