Canadian Muslims urged to boost security with beginning of Ramadan

News Agencies – July 30, 2011

A week after a massacre in Norway fuelled by anti-Islamic sentiment claimed the lives of 77 people, Muslims preparing for Ramadan across Canada are being urged to install surveillance cameras and bars on mosque windows, and to talk to police and school principals about emergency plans should an “incident” arise. The Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations, based in Ottawa, is calling for these and other measures as part of its “Muslim Community Safety Kit” sent out to Muslim associations across the country this week.

There have been reports of mosques being vandalized and other incidents in Montreal, Vancouver, Calgary, Ottawa, Waterloo – some following the 9/11 attacks, others after the uproar over a cartoon depicting Mohammed in a Danish newspaper in 2005, and more recently around the well-publicized burning of a Quran in Florida. According to a Statistics Canada report released in June, the number of hate crimes increased by 42 per cent from 2008 to 2009, the last year for which statistics are available.

Mosques here have been taking safety precautions for years, said Salam Elmenyawi, president of the Muslim Council of Montreal. But along with locking doors and trimming shrubs around buildings to stop culprits from hiding out in them, Montreal mosques have also been opening their doors to the non-Muslims.