How Coalition of Muslim Women KW’s hate reporting tool is giving voice to the community

·2 min read

When a Kitchener teacher allegedly duct-taped two children’s arms, legs and mouth as a form of discipline at Alpine Public School, the Coalition of Muslim Women KW saw a flood of complaints come through its hate reporting tool.

Fauzia Mazhar, executive director of the coalition, noticed right away that parents’ main concern was the lack of information on the incident and how teachers are held accountable for such behaviour.

“The main theme became clear: it wasn’t an isolated incident, either at the school or the schools around the region,” says Mazhar.

So Coalition of Muslim Women KW petitioned the school board to be more transparent in the process, and hold a meeting for parents so that they could get their questions answered.

While hesitant at first, according to Mazhar, the school board eventually co-ordinated a meeting for parents in the school community.

None of this would have been possible without the coalition’s hate reporting tool, (reportinghate.ca), the first of its kind in Waterloo Region, said Mifrah Abid, co-ordinator of its ‘Together Against Islamophobia’ program.

“It is common knowledge now that hate crimes are more under-reported than other crimes,” says Abid. “The lack of data documenting them leaves a huge gap in our understanding of the impact they create on vulnerable communities. Reporting hate crimes and hate incidents is the first step towards policy change and accountability.”

Most recently, the Coalition helped oust a Wilfrid Laurier recruiter who made Islamophobic remarks on Facebook.

The Coalition received messages through its hate reporting tool about Facebook posts that encouraged people to boycott Muslims and other offensive posts that labelled pictures of a KW Palestine rally as “jihadis.”

After reviewing the posts, the Coalition immediately hired lawyers to conduct an investigation, and as a result the Laurier employee was suspended. Mazhar and the coalition also arranged for a community meeting between Laurier staff and the people who reported the incident.

Prior to the hate reporting tool being launched in April 2021, Mazhar would often say that the worst pain that came from hate-related incidents was being silenced. The tool provides a resource other than the police who often find it difficult to resolve such situations.

“It’s about amplifying our voices and getting people from the community involved.”

Genelle Levy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Cambridge Times

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