Police say they are offering increased protection to a Liberal MP and are investigating potentially threatening messages sent to her office after she put forward a motion in the House of Commons condemning Islamophobia.
Mississauga-Erin Mills MP Iqra Khalid tabled private member’s motion M-103 calling on the federal government to eliminate “Islamophobia and all forms of systemic racism and religious discrimination.”
Her motion has become a lightning rod for activists, opposition politicians and individuals who fear the motion will somehow threaten free speech or pave the way for Islamic shariah law in Canada.
Khalid told the House of Commons on Thursday her office received roughly 50,000 messages, many of them hateful and threatening. Khalid read out in the House this week some of the uglier messages sent to her, including one that said “Kill her and be done with it” and another that vowed “We will burn down your mosques.”
Officials at Khalid’s constituency office in Mississauga, Ont., say they have been receiving angry phone calls from across Canada and have been in contact with police. Const. Harinder Sohi of the Peel Regional Police confirmed in an email to CBC News the force is responding.
“Peel Regional Police is currently investigating material received by MP Iqra Khalid’s office,” the email said.
“Peel Regional Police have also increased patrols around the MP’s constituency office and home for security purposes.”
Sowing fear and division
The RCMP says it has also been informed about the messages sent to Khalid’s office, as well as messages sent to the office of Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly.
“The RCMP takes all threats seriously,” said Sgt. Julie Gagnon in an email. “The RCMP is aware of these and are looking into it. To ensure the safety of those we protect, specific details on security measures cannot be provided.”
Joly’s office says she has not requested extra security. The minister says she was taken aback by hateful comments that appeared online when she took part in a news conference on M-103 that was broadcast live on Facebook this week.
“It’s completely unacceptable,” said Joly, adding that her partner had seen the comments online and told her he was worried by messages that she says sow fear and division.
Khalid’s motion will be back before the House of Commons in April. Opposition Conservatives have come out strongly against the motion. Many of the candidates running for the leadership of the party say they are opposed, with only one candidate, Michael Chong, publicly declaring his support for the measure.
The Conservatives have put forward their own motion to counter M-103. It would remove the reference to Islamophobia and instead call on government to “condemn all forms of systemic racism, religious intolerance and discrimination of Muslims, Jews, Christians, Sikhs, Hindus and other religious communities.”
The government has rejected that, saying Islamophobia is real and must be challenged.
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