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When reaching out to the Muslim community, choose your ambassadors carefully
by Barbara Kay
Crime Prevention Ottawa (CPO) was founded in 2004 to develop strategies for enhancing community safety, addressing problems like violence against women, neighbourhood gangs, abuse of the disabled and hate crimes.
Between January and November of this year, according to Staff Sergeant Dave Zackrias of the Diversity and Race Relations Unit (DRR) of the Ottawa Police Service (OPS), there have been 64 reported hate incidents targeting blacks, LGBT, Jews and Muslims. The majority were "mischief," mostly graffiti of offensive words and symbols, or "harassment," shouted or Internet hate speech. Notably, there were very few reports of two or more people engaging in a verbal confrontation. There were two cases of physical assault. Altogether hate crimes constituted a virtually violence-free 0.02 per cent of all Ottawa police-reported crimes.
To an epidemiologist these figures would indicate a basically healthy and inclusive society. And yet, in spite of their proportionately low numbers, of the four public events CPO mounted in 2016, two have been dedicated to hate crimes, with both, unfortunately, featuring a failure of due diligence regarding Muslim representation.
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