Attacks on Muslims in Canada went up by 151%. This is the highest reported total since the Canadian government started issuing annual reports on hate crimes in Canada. Hate crimes against Muslims rose higher than others. In Ontario, hate crimes against Muslims rose by 207%.
In 2017, 2073 hate crimes were reported by the Canadian police, which is an increase of over 600 incidents from 2016 according to a Statistics Canada report. In 2016, hate crimes against the Jewish population rose up by 60%. Hate crimes that are sexually oriented went up by 15% while hate crimes against blacks went up by 50%.
The number of incidents is much higher than the number of reported incidents. The report only accounted for hate crimes that were reported to authorities, which is just a small percentage of the total number of events. Over two-thirds of victims of hate crime do not report attacks to the police, and people that stay in communities with a large number of recent immigrants tend to stay even quieter on this issue than others.
The incidents covered in the report range from crimes that did not receive a public notice to crimes that gained international attention. Most crimes involved vandalism and other property damage. Nonviolent hate crimes grew at a faster rate than violent hate crimes. Several horrific acts of violence were committed in 2017 especially when a shooter with far-right affiliations killed six Muslim men at a Quebec City mosque in January.
In recent times, Canada has been more politically divided over issues like religion and migration just like the United States. Far-right groups are now increasing in number. Ontario and Quebec which are the two most popular provinces in Canada have elected right-wing populist governments, and Quebec is planning to start legislation that will stop public servants like teachers from wearing religious symbols like kippas and hijabs on duty.
A spokeswoman for the National Council of Canadian Muslims, Leila Nasr said that the political sphere had become increasingly polarized in recent years. She called for broader action from authorities and communities to address the increase in hate crimes. She said that all political leaders have a role in speaking out unequivocally and openly about all kinds of hate.
A lot of researchers and right groups have attributed the increase in hate crimes to the spread effect from the United States where President Donald Trump has made far-right groups stronger.
Proof of this can be seen from the Quebec City shooter, Alexandre Bissonnette. He fervently checked social media accounts of Fox News pundits, Trump, and other far-right conspiracy theorists before he carried out his attack. Alexandre Bissonnette told authorities that the shooting was carried out to stop refugees from settling down in Canada.
The Canadian government is yet to release official numbers for hate crimes in 2018, but the National Council of Canadian Muslims said that the data is used for tracking anti-Muslim hate in Canada showed an upward trend.