The creation of a permanent memorial, an anti-Islamophobia advisory council, and an amended public nuisance bylaw are among the ways the city could honour a Muslim family killed in a suspected terror attack last year and help to stamp out future hateful incidents.
In a 160-page report headed to the strategic priorities and policy committee next week, dubbed “A London for Everyone: An Action Plan to Disrupt Islamophobia”, staff put forward a wide-range of recommendations from the Anti-Islamophobia Working Group.
The recommendations were crafted following meetings held in the fall with 80 Muslim Londoners and 30 community-based and public sector organizations including London police, local school boards, and the Middlesex London Health Unit.
“They are angry, they are scared, they are frustrated. They are desperate for all levels of government to stand by their commitment made following the terror attack. This is not something people have moved on from,” Rumina Morris, the city’s director of anti-racism and anti-oppression, said of the outcome of those public consultation sessions.
In the wake of the fatal June 6 hit-and-run that killed four members of the Afzaal family at Hyde Park and South Carriage roads, city council committed to ending Islamophobia and hate. Salman Afzaal, 46, his wife Madiha Salman, 44, their 15-year-old daughter Yumna Afzaal and 9-year-old son Fayez Salman, and Salman Afzaal’s 74-year-old mother Talat Afzaal were out for an evening walk when the driver of a pickup truck mounted the curb and hit them before speeding off. Fayez Salman was the lone survivor of the attack.
In order to honour their memory, city council will be asked to approve $150,000 in one time funding to erect a memorial plaza at the site. It would include a mural on a retainer wall by local-youths and a community garden.
“There will be a proclamation. We will be asking the council to proclaim that day (June 6) as a day to remember our London family. We will likely see a request for lighting to be lit up in green and purple on June 6,” said Morris.
Beyond the permanent memorial, other recommendations to combat Islamophobia in London are as follows:
-Create an Anti-Islamophobia Advisory Council to the mayor comprised of a diverse group of Muslims in London
-Hire a Muslim Community Liaison Advisor to work in the Anti-Racism Anti-Oppression Division who would be responsible for working with community partners to develop an implementation plan
-Tighten the city’s existing public nuisance bylaw to include language against verbal harassment of newcomers and immigrants in public spaces
-Develop models and programs for training Muslim youth leaders
-Provide dedicated funding for local community-based anti-Islamophobia initiatives
-Explore ways to make community centres, programs, services, and public spaces more inclusive for members of the Muslim
communities, including using spaces to raise awareness and to educate
-Endorse the National Council of Canadian Muslims’ 61 recommendations and actively advocate with the provincial and federal governments to deliver on these recommendations.
-Work with community based and public sector organizations to identify training opportunities specific to anti-Islamophobia
-Annual reports to council on the progress being made to end Islamophobia in the community.
If politicians endorse the recommendations the next steps would be to develop an implementation plan which would include costing, division responsibilities and firm timelines./ blackburnnews