London hate crime raises questions about media coverage

Guardian correspondent, Masuma Rahim, writes that the limited media coverage of acid attacks against South Asians is a symptom of larger media biases and the absence of minority representation in the news industry.

Rahim is, in particular, responding to a hate crime by a white man, John Tomlin, against two South Asian, Muslim relatives. Resham Kahn, who was celebrating her 21st birthday, was sitting in traffic with her cousin, Jameel Mukhtar, when Tomlin attacked. Both cousins have survived but suffered severe, life-changing injuries and disfigurement.

Mukhtar expressed frustration at low media and investigative police response. He claims these institutions would have labelled this attack as a terrorist attack if the religion/ethnicity of the victims and attacker were reversed.

Rahim writes that this attack and other similar ones should be taken more seriously as an issue that affects the whole of society and not just a minority.

Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs are targets of violence: Barack Obama

US President Barack Obama has acknowledged that even today a number of people from the South Asian origin — particularly those from Hindu, Muslim and Sikh communities — are becoming victims of hate crimes in America.

“Even today, South Asian Americans, especially those who are Muslim, Hindu and Sikh, are targets of suspicion and violence,” Obama said in a presidential proclamation that recognised the contribution of Asian-Americans in the socio-political and economic milieu of the country.

“Like America itself, the AAPI (Asian American and Pacific Islander) community draws strength from the diversity of its many distinct cultures – each with vibrant histories and unique perspectives to bring to our national life,” Obama said.

“Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders have helped build, defend and strengthen our Nation – as farm workers and railroad laborers; as entrepreneurs and scientists; as artists, activists, and leaders of government.

They have gone beyond, embodying the soaring aspirations of the American spirit,” Obama said.

Obama reiterated his determination to pass comprehensive immigration reform that would modernise the legal immigration system, create a pathway to earned citizenship for undocumented immigrants, hold employers accountable, and strengthen the border security.

He said with courage, grit, and an abiding belief in American ideals, Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders have challenged the Nation to be better.

“Nearly 5 years ago, I re-established the White House Initiative on AAPIs. The Initiative addresses disparities in health care, education, and economic opportunity by ensuring Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders receive equal access to government programs and services,” Obama said.

“Honour Based Violence and the Canadian Context” Held in Toronto

November 30, 2010

So-called ‘honour-based crimes’ should not be viewed as distinct from mainstream violence against women and the Criminal Code should not be amended to include a separate ‘honour killings’ charge, a panel agreed at what was believed to be the first-ever symposium on the subject in York Region in Ontario, Canada. The panel — which featured self-proclaimed Muslim feminist, social worker, and beauty queen Tahmena Bokhari, and which also included Det. Christina Baker of York Regional Police, lawyer and activist Zarah Danani, and Anita Khanna, of the Council of Agencies Serving South Asians — agreed that the term ‘honour killing’ wrongfully suggests so-called honour crimes are somehow different from the crimes of yore.
The symposium — entitled Honour Based Violence and the Canadian Context and hosted by the Sandgate Women’s Shelter of York Region — drew 50 or so mostly female community members, activists, and social workers to Richmond Hill, Ontario’s Elgin West Community Centre.
In July, Rona Ambrose, Canadian Minister for the Status of Women, told a news conference in Mississauga that the government was “looking at” adding a separate charge. Yet, later the same day her statement was hastily rejected by the Justice Department.

Frontier Centre for Public Policy Releases Document about Honor Killing in Canada

Immigrant communities in Canada, particularly South Asians, must “air our dirty laundry” in order to combat violence against women, says Ms. Aruna Papp, who specializes in domestic violence. She recently released a report for the Frontier Centre for Public Policy (a privately funded conservative think tank) entitled “Culturally Driven Violence against Women”.

There have been 12 honour killings in Canada since 2002, said Ms. Papp, who defines them as “murders carried out in order to cleanse the family name and restore the family honour.” Rona Ambrose, Canadian Minister for the Status of Women, spoke at the release, condemning honour killings and calling on women’s groups and local communities to work together with the government to combat the “heinous abuses of power.” When asked if the government might create a special definition or enhanced sentencing in the Criminal Code around honour killings, Ms. Ambrose said that laws are already in place to address violence and murder. Still, she said, “it’s something that we’re looking at.”

Jeffrey Reitz, a sociology professor at the University of Toronto who specializes in immigration issues, called this “patronizing,” saying that honour killings aren’t a problem of “educating immigrants,” but rather, a problem of crime and violence in general.

Columnist Haroon Siddiqui responds to latest demographic forecasts in Canada

Statistics Canada has released its population projections to 2031. The population of visible minorities is expected to rise from one in every five Canadians to one in three – potentially to 14.4 million. In 2031, the Toronto CMA (census metropolitan area, Oshawa to Burlington) would be nearly two-thirds non-white – 5.6 million. Among them, South Asians would have tripled to 2.1 million. Chinese would be 1.1 million. Vancouver also would be almost two-thirds non-white. Montreal would continue to lag in diversity. Only one in three would be non-white. Blacks (mostly Haitians, like Michaëlle Jean) would double to 381,000.
While immigration would remain a big-city phenomenon, mid-size cities would change as well. “VizMins” would double their numbers in Barrie, Guelph, Hamilton, Kitchener, Oshawa, Peterborough, etc. Similarly, there have always been two Canada’s – urban and rural. What is different today is that most non-whites live in cities. Lastly, immigrants and visible minorities will remain better educated than the native-born and also much younger

Muslims launch US-wide census

This summer, a team of Islamic advocacy groups and statistical organizations will begin a nationwide census of American mosques. The initiative is one in which organizers hope will paint a more accurate picture of composition of Muslims in the US. Challenges of the plan include finding all venues in which Muslims pray – as man Islamic communities do not have organized mosques, but still meet for congregational prayers in homes, workplaces, universities, and other multi-purposes places. The release of the study is planned for early 2009. The Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) released a similar study in 2001, which found that South Asians comprised 33% of mosque attendance, African Americans 30%, and Arabs 25%. Groups sponsoring the 2008 census include the Islamic Society of North America, the Muslim American Society, The Muslim Public Affairs Council, the Hartford Institute of Religion Research, and the Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies.

One trail of Barcelona terrorist cell “leads to Frankfurt”

A group of Islamist extremists in Frankfurt were planning an attack in Germany, according to a would-be suicide bomber captures in Spain. Testimony from the informant, who was captured after he arrived in Barcelona on January 16th, led to the arrest of 14 South Asians after he told police an Islamist extremist cell planned to attack the city’s metro and other targets in Europe. He also told police that the members were to travel to Frankfurt to meet up with a group planning an attack. However, the plan was changed, and another member of the Barcelona cell, Akeel Abassi, was sent to Frankfurt alone on January 18th; Abassi is currently being sought by police.