Petition for recognition of Hinduphobia in Canada tabled in House of Commons

Canada: Canadian MP Melissa Lantsman tabled a petition calling for the recognition of Hinduphobia, in the House of Commons on Thursday. She also sought the Government’s response to the petition, e-4507, closed on October 17, with 25,794 signatures.

The deputy leader of the Conservative Party in the House, Lantsman said the community had “seen an increase in attacks against the Hindu people in their places of worship.”
“Everyone in this country deserves a safe place, free of intimidation and violence and harassment and vandalism to worship, no matter what that looks like,” she said in the House while tabling the petition.

She added, during the brief speech, “Canadian Hindus are facing growing negative stereotypes, prejudice, discrimination, at work, in schools and in their communities while traditions and cultures are misrepresented and misunderstood.”

She also pointed out that the petition was being presented on the second day of what is officially observed as Hindu Heritage Month in Canada.

The petition, which garnered support from 80 community organisations including major temples, calls upon the House to recognise Hinduphobia as a term in the glossary of terms in the Human Rights Code to describe anti-Hindu prejudice and discrimination, to define Hinduphobia as denial, negation, prejudice or vilification against Hindus, Hinduism, or Hinduness and to raise awareness and address systemic and institutional Hinduphobia.

The petition gathered momentum after the secessionist group Sikhs for Justice or SFJ released a video in September targeting Canadian Hindus of Indian origin. In a video that went viral, SFJ’s legal counsel Gurpatwant Pannun said, “Indo-Hindus leave Canada, go to India.”

“You not only support India but you are also supporting the suppression of speech and expression of pro-Khalistan Sikhs,” he said, adding they were “also promoting violence by celebrating” Nijjar’s “assassination.” He was referring to the killing SFJ’s principal figure Hardeep Singh Nijjar on June 18. The killing has led to strained relations between India and Canada after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s statement in the House of Commons on September 18 that there were “credible allegations” of a potential link between the crime and Indian agents.

Other than the SFJ video, there have been at least a dozen instances since last summer when temples were desecrated either with pro-Khalistan graffiti or posters attacking India’s seniormost diplomats in Canada.

Those acts have led to the issue of Hinduphobia coming to the fore in Canada, and the phenomenon recognised by Canadian leaders. In April this year, Pierre Poilievre, leader of the Conservative Party, told the outlet Prime Asia, “We have to stop Hinduphobia and nasty comments that are made about Hindus and the vandalism and other violence targeting Hindu Canadians. This is totally unacceptable.”

In January, Liberal Party MP Chandra Arya, speaking in the House, said, “Like Islamophobia and anti-Semitism resulting in hate crimes against our mosques and synagogues causing pain to our Muslim and Jewish brothers and sisters, Hindu Canadians are experiencing the same pain due to rising Hinduphobia.”