They say that conflict brings out the worst but also the best in humanity, and today we want to share an encouraging example of that. With remarkable coordination and collaboration, nine legal and human-rights groups in the province have banded together to provide the country’s first Islamophobia legal assistance hotline, at islamophobiahotline.ca and 604-343-3828.
Saying it is their “duty to pull together and ensure that people who affected by this racism are able to protect their rights”, Access Pro Bono and eight other partners (see below) are offering a hotline to give free, confidential advice to individuals who are Muslim or perceived to be Muslim who experience harassment, threats or violence. Interpretation is available to provide legal advice in multiple languages.
Aleem Bharmal, Executive Director of the Community Legal Assistance Society, is one of the hotline’s organizers:
“Many people who experience this sort of discrimination may not even know that there might be legal options available to respond, depending on what happened, such as filing a discrimination complaint at the Human Rights Tribunal. We want to make sure people can get the advice that they need.”
The hotline’s website notes that Islamophobia can be experienced in many ways, including harassment, profiling, exclusion, property destruction, bullying, violence, discrimination, refusal of service, and threats. In addition to helping individuals address discrimination, the hotline will document the issues being reported (without including individually identifying information) to better understand the scope of the problem in BC.
The website also provides information on how to access other resources, including:
- Victim support services for those who have experienced or witnessed a hate crime
- Free and sliding scale counseling services and other community supports
- Multilingual legal information
Kudos to this dedicated group of BC lawyers and legal organizations for providing such an important and timely service.
Islamophobia Legal Assistance Hotline partners:
Access Pro Bono
B.C. Civil Liberties Association
B.C. Public Interest Advocacy Centre
Community Legal Assistance Society
Canadian Bar Association – BC Branch
Federation of Asian Canadian Lawyers, Western Chapter
National Council of Canadian Muslims
Canadian Association of Black Lawyers
South Asian Bar Association of B.C.