TORONTO (Reuters) - Hate crimes in Canada increased 47 percent in 2017, primarily targeting Muslims, Jews and black people, according to figures released by the country’s statistical agency on Thursday.
The biggest increase was in crimes targeting Muslims, Statistics Canada reported, in a year that saw a deadly mass shooting in a Quebec mosque, followed by a government motion to study Islamophobia that itself sparked anti-Muslim sentiment.
The spike mirrors an increase in hate crimes south of the border in the United States, where they rose in 2017 for the third consecutive year, according to the FBI.
“We were shocked by the numbers - and, at the same time, we weren’t,” said Ihsaan Gardee, executive director of the National Council of Canadian Muslims. “This increase didn’t occur in a vacuum.”
Canada is not immune to rhetoric coming from the United States, said Amira Elghawaby, a board member of the Anti-Hate Network advocacy group.
“It’s a porous border, not just for people and goods but for ideas.”
The statistics published Thursday include crimes reported to police that were determined to be motivated by hatred towards an identifiable group. According to victimization surveys, two-thirds of these crimes go unreported, Statistics Canada said.
The number of hate crimes targeting Muslims more than doubled, rising to 349 from 139. The number of hate crimes targeting black people increased by 50 percent, to 321 from 214. And the number of hate crimes targeting Jewish people increased to 360 from 221.
It is not yet known whether the upward trend in hate crimes continued through 2018, which saw such high-profile incidents as a Muslim man beaten in front of his family in a parking lot and Jewish teenagers attacked walking down the street.
“We’re following this closely,” Gardee said. “And we’ll continue to raise our voice for more coordinated action across the board.”
Reporting by Anna Mehler Paperny; Editing by Tom Brown