Canada is holding a national summit on Islamophobia. Will it kick-start real change?

OTTAWA—Ahead of an impending summit to fight Islamophobia, the head of the National Council for Canadian Muslims wants one thing to be clear: politicians in attendance must go beyond rehashing the messages of hope and sorrow the Muslim community has heard before. “What we need to be clear about is that the summit is not a conference,” executive director Mustafa Farooq told the Star. “The summit is really where we’re figuring out and negotiating out timetables for action.”On Friday, MPs unanimously adopted a non-binding motion calling for Ottawa to “convene an Emergency National Action Summit on Islamophobia” before the end of July. A date for the gathering has not been set, but some agenda items are already taking shape.“It’s going to be about taking action on things like appointing a special envoy on Islamophobia, action on potentially introducing new legislation for dismantling white supremacist groups,” Farooq said. A lengthy list of Muslim and human rights groups backed the initial call for the event, also appealing to other levels of government to fold anti-Islamophobia education into school curriculums, end discriminatory legislation and develop new approaches to tackling street harassment. The push for the summit first came from the London Muslim Mosque, which was attended by the family killed last week in what police have labelled a hate-motivated attack. The man accused of killing four members of the Afzaal family and injuring a nine-year-old boy is now facing charges of terrorism.“The measure of whether governments actually stand by their words…in the aftermath of the London terror attack, will very much be whether the recommendations of the summit are actually put into place and passed into law in an expedient and short time frame,” Farooq said.While leaders of Muslim organizations have a distinct vision of what they want to get out of the event, it’s less obvious how governments at any level will convince the Muslim community that this time, their promises come with teeth.Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland didn’t answer Monday when asked whether the Liberal government was prepared to set aside new funds to tackle Islamophobia.“The federal government has already invested in the fight against Islamophobia and against white supremacism,” Freeland said. “Clearly, there is a lot more work to do. And we’re going to continue to do that work.”NDP diversity critic Lindsay Mathyssen, the MP who brought forward last week’s motion, said “the will of the people” injects a different sense of urgency into the summit.“Governments need to recognize that it’s the people that give them that power, and that it’s their responsibility to disseminate that power and ensure that people share in it,” she said.In a statement to the Star, the office of Diversity and Inclusion Minister Bardish Chagger wrote that details on the event are still being finalized “as we take a whole-of-government approach to ensure that the summit offers meaningful opportunity for Muslim communities to set out concrete actions that our government can take to combat Islamophobia.”Chagger’s office cited Ottawa’s recent work to declare a national day of remembrance for the 2017 Quebec City mosque shooting and a federal budget pledge to help places of worship beef up their security infrastructure as further evidence of progress. The federal government has yet to introduce promised legislation that would address and remove hate speech online. Preparations for the summit, however, come as another Conservative MP has apologized for his stance on issues that stoked fear about the Muslim community. “Years ago, as the Minister of State for Multiculturalism, I was the spokesperson for a bill to ban the niqab...while taking the oath of citizenship,” Edmonton Mills MP Tim Uppal wrote in a Facebook post Sunday.After the federal Conservatives lost the 2015 election, Uppal said, he began talking to more Canadians outside the “partisan political bubble”. “It was through these conversations that I really understood how this ban and other campaign announcements during the 2015 election alienated Muslim Canadians and contributed to the growing problem of Islamophobia in Canada,” Uppal said, likely referring to his party’s campaign vow to establish a “barbaric cultural practices” tip line.Uppal’s remarks come nearly one week after Tory health critic Michelle Rempel Garner also expressed regret over her silence on the niqab ban and RCMP tip line. The Calgary Nose Hill MP apologized, assuring the Muslim community that she would not “make the same mistake again.”In a news conference Monday, Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole said he was “proud” of his MPs for reaching out and “trying to build trust” with the Muslim community.Farooq called the pair of apologies “important and significant”, hoping that they signal change even beyond party lines. “We hope that the commitment to avoid dog whistling, baiting, xenophobic kinds of policies from any political party will be somet

Canada is holding a national summit on Islamophobia. Will it kick-start real change?

OTTAWA—Ahead of an impending summit to fight Islamophobia, the head of the National Council for Canadian Muslims wants one thing to be clear: politicians in attendance must go beyond rehashing the messages of hope and sorrow the Muslim community has heard before.

“What we need to be clear about is that the summit is not a conference,” executive director Mustafa Farooq told the Star. “The summit is really where we’re figuring out and negotiating out timetables for action.”

On Friday, MPs unanimously adopted a non-binding motion calling for Ottawa to “convene an Emergency National Action Summit on Islamophobia” before the end of July.

A date for the gathering has not been set, but some agenda items are already taking shape.

“It’s going to be about taking action on things like appointing a special envoy on Islamophobia, action on potentially introducing new legislation for dismantling white supremacist groups,” Farooq said.

A lengthy list of Muslim and human rights groups backed the initial call for the event, also appealing to other levels of government to fold anti-Islamophobia education into school curriculums, end discriminatory legislation and develop new approaches to tackling street harassment.

The push for the summit first came from the London Muslim Mosque, which was attended by the family killed last week in what police have labelled a hate-motivated attack.

The man accused of killing four members of the Afzaal family and injuring a nine-year-old boy is now facing charges of terrorism.

“The measure of whether governments actually stand by their words…in the aftermath of the London terror attack, will very much be whether the recommendations of the summit are actually put into place and passed into law in an expedient and short time frame,” Farooq said.

While leaders of Muslim organizations have a distinct vision of what they want to get out of the event, it’s less obvious how governments at any level will convince the Muslim community that this time, their promises come with teeth.

Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland didn’t answer Monday when asked whether the Liberal government was prepared to set aside new funds to tackle Islamophobia.

“The federal government has already invested in the fight against Islamophobia and against white supremacism,” Freeland said. “Clearly, there is a lot more work to do. And we’re going to continue to do that work.”

NDP diversity critic Lindsay Mathyssen, the MP who brought forward last week’s motion, said “the will of the people” injects a different sense of urgency into the summit.

“Governments need to recognize that it’s the people that give them that power, and that it’s their responsibility to disseminate that power and ensure that people share in it,” she said.

In a statement to the Star, the office of Diversity and Inclusion Minister Bardish Chagger wrote that details on the event are still being finalized “as we take a whole-of-government approach to ensure that the summit offers meaningful opportunity for Muslim communities to set out concrete actions that our government can take to combat Islamophobia.”

Chagger’s office cited Ottawa’s recent work to declare a national day of remembrance for the 2017 Quebec City mosque shooting and a federal budget pledge to help places of worship beef up their security infrastructure as further evidence of progress.

The federal government has yet to introduce promised legislation that would address and remove hate speech online.

Preparations for the summit, however, come as another Conservative MP has apologized for his stance on issues that stoked fear about the Muslim community.

“Years ago, as the Minister of State for Multiculturalism, I was the spokesperson for a bill to ban the niqab...while taking the oath of citizenship,” Edmonton Mills MP Tim Uppal wrote in a Facebook post Sunday.

After the federal Conservatives lost the 2015 election, Uppal said, he began talking to more Canadians outside the “partisan political bubble”.

“It was through these conversations that I really understood how this ban and other campaign announcements during the 2015 election alienated Muslim Canadians and contributed to the growing problem of Islamophobia in Canada,” Uppal said, likely referring to his party’s campaign vow to establish a “barbaric cultural practices” tip line.

Uppal’s remarks come nearly one week after Tory health critic Michelle Rempel Garner also expressed regret over her silence on the niqab ban and RCMP tip line. The Calgary Nose Hill MP apologized, assuring the Muslim community that she would not “make the same mistake again.”

In a news conference Monday, Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole said he was “proud” of his MPs for reaching out and “trying to build trust” with the Muslim community.

Farooq called the pair of apologies “important and significant”, hoping that they signal change even beyond party lines.

“We hope that the commitment to avoid dog whistling, baiting, xenophobic kinds of policies from any political party will be something that all parties commit to every single day, forever. There cannot be a place in Canada for that.”

Raisa Patel is an Ottawa-based reporter covering federal politics for the Star. Follow her on Twitter: @R_SPatel

Source : Toronto Star More   

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Delta Variant Intensifies Urgency To Get Vaccinated Against COVID-19, Health Experts Say

Those who are unvaccinated are most at risk and already make up a vast majority of new infections and hospitalizations.

Delta Variant Intensifies Urgency To Get Vaccinated Against COVID-19, Health Experts Say

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A new, more contagious COVID variant is making its way around the world.

Experts say it’s intensifying the urgency to get more people vaccinated, CBS2’s Aundrea Cline-Thomas reported Monday.

People without masks enjoying Central Park and the resurgence of indoor dining are indications of a return to normalcy.

“New York State has virtually the lowest positivity rate in the United States of America,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. “That is a fact.”

But the sense of relief it brings comes with a warning.

COVID VACCINE

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The Delta variant, that originated in India, poses a threat as cases in the U.S. multiply. Officials say it’s on track to becoming the dominant strain in just months.

“I think the risk is really to the fall that this could spike a new epidemic heading into the fall,” said former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb.

Those who are unvaccinated are most at risk and already make up a vast majority of new infections and hospitalizations.

“The pandemic is primarily a pandemic among unvaccinated people,” said NYC Health Commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi.

Forty-seven percent of city residents are fully vaccinated. That drops to 33.5% in the 10039 zip code, which covers central Harlem and Washington Heights.

“It’s kind of hard going into the process of building up the confidence to take it,” said Bobby Smith.

“I’m still a little hesitant because it’s still brand new, but I would get it because I want to stay protected,” said Natural Lynch.

CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC

  • Ask CBS2’s Dr. Max Your Vaccine Questions
  • COVID Vaccine FAQ From CDC
  • Vaccination Sites In New York City | Call 877-VAX-4NYC
  • Track NYC Vaccinations By Zip Code
  • Find A New York City Testing Site Near You
  • Check NYC Testing Wait Times
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  • Complete Coronavirus Coverage

Gov. Cuomo compiled a list of zip codes with the lowest vaccination rates in the state. He urged local governments to do more to address concerns, with a focus on 12 to 17-year-olds.

COVID restrictions are being lifted and a full reopening – including city schools – is slated for the fall.

The good news in all of this is that health officials say COVID vaccines appear to provide adequate protection against the Delta variant and others strains, proving the shots are still the best defense we have.

Delta is the dominant COVID strain in the U.K. and its spread has delayed the country’s plans to lift restrictions.

Source : CBS News York More   

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