Canadians Face Escalating Antisemitism and Islamophobia Amid Middle-East Conflict

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says rising numbers of antisemitic and Islamophobic incidents have Canadians “scared in our own streets.” (The Canadian Press/Sean Kilpatrick)

Amidst the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict, Canadians are confronting a distressing surge in antisemitism and Islamophobia. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has denounced this rise as “terrifying,” highlighting the violence that has spilled onto Canadian streets, according to CBC News.

With the backdrop of a war that has seen devastating loss of life, Trudeau has emphasized the urgent need for a humanitarian pause. This would facilitate the release of hostages, the exit of foreign nationals, and the delivery of aid to Gaza’s beleaguered residents. The Prime Minister stressed that the barrage of violence against Jewish and Muslim Canadians is “not acceptable in Canada, period.”

According to Trudeau, antisemitic acts have included Molotov cocktails targeting synagogues and menacing threats towards Jewish establishments. Canadians, the Prime Minister said, are “scared in our own streets,” with hostility aimed not only at Jews but also at Muslims and those showing solidarity with Palestinians.

Canadian Leaders Rally in Solidarity with Israel Amid Pro-Palestinian Demonstrations
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau holds a sign at a rally in support of Israel, at the Soloway Jewish Community Centre in Ottawa on Monday, Oct. 9, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

Echoing Trudeau’s sentiments, Liberal MP Anthony Housefather, representing the Jewish Canadian community, expressed to CBC News an unprecedented level of fear and frustration among Jewish Canadians. He also underscored the importance of police vigilance against hate speech and extremism.

The recent violence in the Middle-East has been catastrophic, with the Israeli bombardment claiming over 10,568 Palestinian lives, nearly half of whom were children. The Canadian government has classified Hamas as a terrorist organization following its attack on southern Israel on October 7, which killed 1,400 people, including several Canadians.

In the city of Montreal, a Jewish community center, Congregation Beth Tikvah, was attacked with Molotov cocktails. While the damage was minimal and no injuries were reported, the incident is part of a concerning trend. Since October 7, Montreal police have documented 48 hate crimes against the Jewish community and 17 against the Arab-Muslim community, as per CBC News reports.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau delivers remarks at an Ottawa-area event designed to show solidarity with Israelis amid an ongoing war between Israel and Hamas.

The alarming increase in hate crimes has prompted action from community leaders. Rabbi Idan Scher of Ottawa’s Congregation Machzikei Hadas contacted police after receiving a threatening call, leading to an arrest and multiple charges against a 29-year-old man.

A Senate report on Islamophobia has also sounded the alarm, calling for immediate measures to counter the growing hatred against Muslims in Canada. Uthman Quick, from the National Council of Canadian Muslims, told CBC News that the report confirms a pattern of Islamophobic incidents, which have become a harrowing reality for many Muslims, especially since the October events.

Prime Minister Trudeau concluded by urging Canadians to acknowledge each other’s pain and fears and to work together towards de-escalating tensions. He posed a challenge to the nation, saying, “And if Canada can’t figure this out, tell me what corner of the world is going to figure this out.”