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Muslim Awareness Week’s 5th edition kicks off in Quebec

Click to play video: 'Muslim Awareness Week launches in Montreal'
Muslim Awareness Week launches in Montreal
WATCH: In just a few days, the sixth anniversary of the Quebec City Mosque shooting will be commemorated. For some, it's a painful reminder that Islamophobia exists and the reason why Muslim Awareness Week was created from Jan. 25 to Jan. 31. The fifth edition launched in Montreal on Wednesday. As Global's Gloria Henriquez reports, organizers say awareness is crucial at a time where hate crimes against Muslims are on the rise.

In just a few days, the sixth anniversary of the Quebec City Mosque shooting will be commemorated.

For some, it’s a painful reminder that Islamophobia exists and the reason why Muslim Awareness Week was created.

“Will it happen again? Why did it happen in the first place?” asked Samaa Elibyari, an organizer of Muslim Awareness Week.

“We realize that ignorance was the root cause.”

The Quebec City Mosque shooting took place six years ago.

A lone gunman, motivated by hatred, stormed into the Islamic Cultural Centre on Jan. 29, 2017, killing six people and wounding 19.

Muslim Awareness Week was established in the aftermath of the tragedy.

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It’s a time when non-Muslim Quebecers are invited to get to know their neighbours.

“Get to know us, get acquainted with our achievements, aspirations and concerns,” said Elibyari.

The fifth edition was launched Wednesday at Montreal City Hall.

They say that by learning about them, people can debunk misconceptions and will end up finding more similarities than differences.

Organizers say awareness is crucial at a time when hate crimes against Muslims are on the rise.

According to Statistics Canada, hate crimes in general have increased 72 per cent over the last two years.

In 2021, police-reported hate crimes targeting the Muslim population went up 71 per cent.

“Women feel it more because they are easily spotted, because they wear the hijab, of course,” said Salam El-Mousawi, co-founder of Muslim Awareness Week.

El-Mousawi says debates such as Bill 21, the province’s secularism law, instill fear and divide people.

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Among the positive steps being celebrated: the federal government is appointing a special representative in charge of fighting Islamophobia, and the city of Rimouski adopted its own Muslim Awareness Week.

“We’re here to find the solutions and to try not to continue the human faults again and again,” said Ali Sbeiti, Imam at Centre Communautaire Musulman de Montreal.

Montreal police say that anyone who believes they are a victim of a hate crime or fears for their safety can call 911, head to their neighbourhood station or report the incident online on the SPVM’s website.

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