Home » How Canada’s flourishing far-right movement is fuelling violent Islamophobia

How Canada’s flourishing far-right movement is fuelling violent Islamophobia

by Marko Florentino
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Yet in flinging open Canada’s doors, the prime minister has neglected to weed out the deep-rooted resistance that has rapidly been gaining ground within his borders.

Bissonnette’s internet search history revealed he was an avid follower of numerous radical right-wing figures, and in the days before carrying out his attack, he repeatedly visited the Twitter feed of Donald Trump, who had recently imposed a controversial Muslim entry ban on his borders.

Veltman had gone so far as to write his own far-right manifesto called ‘A White Awakening’, and later told detectives that he left his home on the day of the attack “looking for Muslims to kill”, citing the Christchurch mosque shootings as his inspiration.

Canada’s far-right movement has long been linked to incidents of anti-Muslim hate, but in recent years, violent Islamophobia has reached a disturbing and unprecedented level. A 2023 senate report reveals that Canada leads the G7 in terms of targeted killings of Muslims motivated by Islamophobia, with one in four Canadians not trusting Muslims.

Islamist terrorism is not unheard of in Canada, yet in cases where the perpetrator is known, only 15 per cent of domestic attacks since 9/11 have been inspired by Jihadi extremists. Despite these low numbers, the distrust runs deep.

“Islamophobia is truly systematic within Canadian society – the numbers speak for themselves,” says Senator Salma Ataullahjan, author of the report. “Our country is not immune to what happens around the world. These acts of extreme violence have been increasing for some time.”

No longer a ‘fringe’ movement

Dr Barbara Perry, a Canadian far-right hate crime researcher, explains that right-wing extremism has been bubbling beneath the country’s surface for decades – yet in the past five years, it has erupted. 

“The far-right movement is not a new phenomenon in Canada. But recently, there’s consistently anywhere from 25 per cent to 35 per cent of Canadians who respond negatively to changing demographics, and the ‘risk’ posed by Muslims,” she says.

“There’s a real gap between perception and reality when it comes to how the world views our country. We are one of the most multicultural nations on the planet, but that narrative of inclusion only goes so far. Non-white and non-Christian immigration is not welcomed by everyone.”

Canada’s growing incidents of violent Islamophobia are rooted in the perceived loss of the “European white Christian identity” and the feeling of being “under siege by outsiders”. Trudeau has long dismissed these radical views as a fringe movement, yet these beliefs are becoming increasingly normalised, especially since Trump came into power south of the border.

“In 2015, before Trump’s electoral win, there were about 100 active Canadian far-right groups. Over the course of his administration, 325 groups were active at one time or another, and that number has kept on growing,” says Dr Perry.

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