Programme antiraciste de la Fondation CJPME (PARCF)

Le programme de lutte contre le racisme de la Fondation CJPMO (PARCF) a été lancé au début de l'année 2024 en réponse à une tendance à la montée du racisme au Canada, notamment à l'encontre des Canadiens de confession musulmane et palestinienne. Le mandat de la Fondation est de sensibiliser le public au racisme au Canada. Ce mandat s'inscrit dans l'objectif plus large de la Fondation qui est de surveiller et de combattre les manifestations de racisme, de xénophobie et de discrimination en sensibilisant le public à ces préjugés.

Les déclarations publiques du PARCF sont disponibles ici. Les rapports d'incidents racistes sont disponibles ici. Le PARCF gère également le compte Twitter @OpposeAPR afin de fournir des réponses rapides aux incidents racistes.

Racisme anti-palestinien au Canada

For decades, Palestinians in Canada and elsewhere in the diaspora have faced a form a racism tied to their very existence.  In the West, for a Palestinian, sometimes simply stating their place of origin can trigger a heated political or religious debate.  Palestinians in the West have always been sensitive to the fact that openly discussing their background could have significant negative repercussions in their workplace or community. This is one aspect of a phenomenon which is increasingly named as “Anti-Palestinian Racism” (APR).

Depuis des décennies, les Palestiniens du Canada et d'ailleurs dans la diaspora sont confrontés à une forme de racisme liée à leur existence même. En Occident, pour un Palestinien, le simple fait d'indiquer son lieu d'origine peut parfois déclencher un débat politique ou religieux passionné. Les Palestiniens de l'Ouest ont toujours été sensibles au fait que parler ouvertement de leurs origines pouvait avoir des répercussions négatives importantes sur leur lieu de travail ou leur communauté. Il s'agit là d'un des aspects d'un phénomène de plus en plus souvent appelé "racisme anti-palestinien" (RAP).

Le RAP empêche également toute discussion ouverte sur les droits des Palestiniens parce qu'elle considère la solidarité avec la Palestine comme quelque chose d'inacceptable sur le plan social.[1] Les gens peuvent être réticents à participer à des événements de solidarité avec la Palestine, par exemple, par crainte de répercussions négatives. Cette crainte de représailles contribue à la marginalisation des récits palestiniens en décourageant les gens de s'exprimer pour défendre les droits des Palestiniens.[2]

Un autre impact majeur de l'ARP est le préjudice et le traumatisme causés par le ciblage de l'identité raciale palestinienne. Pour les Palestiniens, la désapprobation sociale dans l'Ouest intensifie l'anxiété d'être Palestinien et - comme décrit ci-dessus - peut conduire les Palestiniens à cacher leur identité par peur de la persécution.[3] Cela peut entraîner l'isolement, la dépression et d'autres problèmes de santé mentale.[4]

Islamophobia in Canada

The term “Islamophobia” was first coined in 1997 as an “unfounded hostility towards Muslims, and therefore fear or dislike of all or most Muslims.”[5] The Merriam-Webster dictionary currently defines Islamophobia as the “irrational fear of, aversion to, or discrimination against Islam or people who practice Islam.”  The Oxford English dictionary defines Islamophobia as “dislike of or prejudice against Islam or Muslims, especially as a political force.”

“Islamophobia consists of violence against Muslims in the form of physical assaults, verbal abuse, and the vandalizing of property, especially of Islamic institutions including mosques, Islamic schools and Muslim cemeteries. Islamophobia also includes discrimination in employment — where Muslims are faced with unequal opportunities — discrimination in the provision of health services, exclusion from managerial positions and jobs of high responsibility; and exclusion from political and governmental posts. Ultimately, Islamophobia also comprises prejudice in the media, literature, and everyday conversation”[6]

Many scholars believe that Islamophobia threatens not only Muslims, but also anyone who is simply perceived as Muslim.  At a political rally in 2017, for example, NDP leader Jagmeet Singh – not a Muslim, but a visible Sikh – was repeatedly and falsely accused by a heckler of advocating Sharia law.[7]  As this and other examples demonstrate, Islamophobia can impact even non-Muslims because of their dress, race, name, language, accent, or other cultural markers.[8] [9]

Horrific incidents of Islamophobia have continued to occur in Canada since 2018 – a notable incident being a car-ramming attack that killed a Muslim family in London, ON in June, 2021. Such incidents ultimately  triggered a number of constructive and concrete steps by the Canadian government, including the codification of the definition of Islamophobia by the government, the recognition of January 29 as a day of remembrance and action against Islamophobia, and the appointment of a Special Envoy to Combat Islamophobia. 

Anti-Arab Racism in Canada

A 2021 poll on anti-Arab racism in Canada confirmed what the sponsors had long suspected about how anti-Arab racism manifests itself in Canada, including: 1) the general opposition to immigration from Arab countries, 2) the frequent racial profiling of Arabs in Canada, 3) the many barriers to the Canadian employment market for Arabs, and 4) the negative stereotypes about Arabs and Arab culture. Like with Muslims, racism against Arabs in Canada can often be tied closely to APR in Canada.

Distinguishing different forms of racism

Despite the associations mentioned above, each form of racism – APR, Islamophobia and anti-Arab racism – are distinct from one another. This is true even though individuals can simultaneously be the target of one or more of these forms of discrimination. Palestinians are Arabs, so they often suffer discrimination in Canada for being Arabs, e.g. if they have an Arab-sounding name, if they have an Arab accent in English or French, if they use ethnic dress, etc. But in addition to this, they also face APR. For example, as noted above, they may be “shut down” when they talk about their family’s place of origin, or their views in support of Palestinian rights – as per the description of anti-Palestinian racism.

Islamophobia and APR will inevitably be confused and conflated for a number of reasons. For one, many Palestinians are Muslims, so prejudice against one identity will inevitably be confused with prejudice against the other. In addition to being a visible “other” in Western society, the fact that Muslims are vocal against the repression of Palestinians makes them an even greater perceived threat among certain racist communities in the West.

Many Muslims – in Canada and elsewhere – take a keen interest in Palestine because many Muslim-Canadians have roots in the Middle East, and have concerns and affinities for the Palestinians. These Muslim Canadians realize how the West’s failure to address the legitimate grievances of the Palestinians has led to regional instability and excessive foreign interference.  Muslims are also particularly sensitive to the injustices imposed upon the Palestinians – recognizing them as fellow Muslims – and thus feel a keen aversion to Western disregard for Palestinian life and liberation. Palestine – and Jerusalem especially – also hold a special religious significance for Muslims worldwide as they are the site of the Al Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site in Islam. As such, if any community is going to suffer discrimination for its support for Palestinian rights and liberation, it will be the Muslim community.

Religiously, Palestinians can be Muslim, Christian or Druze. Although a strong majority of Palestinians are Muslim, a disproportionate number of Palestinians in Canada are Christian.  Nevertheless, many Canadians mistakenly assume that all Palestinians are Muslim. As such, Palestinians in Canada – even the Christian and Druze ones – frequently face Islamophobia, whether because of their name, their place of origin, their cultural habits, etc. But again, Palestinians will face anti-Palestinian racism in addition to any racism they face because they are Muslim, or perceived as Muslim.

While Islamophobia is an insidious force in Canada, using Islamophobia as a proxy for anti-Palestinian racism is unwise and unhelpful.  First, this strategy assumes that the only discrimination faced by Palestinians is Islamophobia, when of course Palestinians face additional forms of discrimination as Palestinians.  Second, this approach suggests that the Palestinian struggle is a global, religious-based struggle between Muslims and Jews rather than a regional Palestinian struggle against oppression and colonialism.  Both of these shortcomings misrepresent or ignore the destructive impacts of anti-Palestinian racism, and contribute to the broader suppression of Palestinian identity and narratives.

Especially since the Hamas attack on Israel on Oct. 7, 2023, there is a clear sense that both Islamophobia and APR are growing in parallel in Canada. In fact, there are indications that increased Islamophobia frequently feeds into increased APR, and vice versa.

Communities in transition

Arabs, including Palestinians, and Muslims in the West haven’t had the luxury to think about the inherent racism they face.  As immigrant communities, they’ve been focused on establishing their citizenship and place in society and ensuring the well-being and prosperity of their families.  This is essential for communities whose status is often precarious, whether because they are officially refugees, economically stressed, have a tentative citizenship status, or because their status may be tentative or temporary in a foreign country.  Because of this, Palestinians and Muslims in the West are often resigned to the fact that others will try to deny their stories, their culture and their heritage.

As such, it is no surprise that it is only recently that Muslim, Arab and Palestinian civil society and scholars in Canada (and more broadly in the West) have begun to formalize an understanding of the racism faced by each group.  The work of scholars for each community have allowed each group to more easily identify the unjust, dehumanizing, exclusionary and discriminatory experiences they may encounter, as well as validate the harm caused by it.[10] 

The urgent need to combat APR, Islamophobia and anti-Arab racism in Canada

The Oct. 7, 2023 attack by Hamas on Israel and Israel’s subsequent war on Gaza have led to an explosion of incidents of APR, Islamophobia and anti-Arab racism, highlighting the urgency of the problem. Although there is increased discussion of these forms of racism in the media and public sphere, this is not a sign of better recognition and prevention; instead, it is a sign that the targeted groups and their allies in Canada face even greater repression and threats to their civil liberties than ever before. To give a few examples of APR witnessed in recent weeks:

  • Although there is no official statistic, since October 7, many people in Canada have been warned, suspended, investigated or fired by their employers due to the expression of their views on Palestine. The Maple published an article highlighting a sampling of cases that included educators, physicians, pilots, journalists, politicians, bureaucrats, and restaurant staff.[11]
  • People in Canada have been assaulted for wearing a keffiyeh,[12] threatened with violence for putting up posters about Palestinian children,[13] and verbally abused for displaying a Palestine flag on their car.[14] Relatedly, incidents of Islamophobia have also skyrocketed since Oct 7, with Muslim Canadians targeted in a record number of attacks.[15]
  • There has been a widespread demonization of pro-Palestine demonstrations, which Ontario Premier Doug Ford referred to as “hate rallies.”[16] Those who participate in demonstrations in solidarity with Palestinians have faced calls that they be charged for supporting terrorism and/or be deported,[17] been defamed in racist political cartoons which claim they support “killing Jews,”[18] and have been referred to as “Tide Pod Taliban” by radio personalities.[19]
  • In Calgary, a protestor organizer was arrested and charged with a hate-motivated crime for using the popular chant, “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.” This is a simple call for freedom which has been grossly re-interpreted by critics as a call for violence. The charges were later stayed.[20]
  • Horrifying acts of violence against Palestinians in the United States also affect the atmosphere in Canada. In Michigan, a 6-year-old Palestinian boy was stabbed to death by a man confronting him and his mother “about what was going on in the Middle East.”[21] In Vermont, three Palestinian university students wearing keffiyehs and speaking Arabic were shot and injured while walking near the university.[22]

This dangerous escalation of racism against Palestinians, Muslims and Arabs in the West has created an unsafe environment for them in Canada which is described by experts as "much worse than what we saw in the aftermath of 9/11.”[23]

The ARPCF will seek to build on the work and frameworks established by anti-racism experts studying both anti-Palestinian racism and Islamophobia.  While the ARPCF will have a focus on these three forms of racism, its commentary will extend beyond these two forms of racism, both in support of anti-racism work in other fields, but also in the interest of highlighting the parallels experienced by other racialized groups.

[1] Arab Canadian Lawyers Association, Anti-Palestinian Racism: Naming, Framing and Manifestations, (April: 2022), 18,

[2] Ibid, 17-18.

[3] Ibid, 18.

[4] Ibid.

[5] “Defining ‘Islamophobia.’” University of California, Berkely Center for Race and Gender. Accessed 7 April 2014.

[6] Abu Sway, Mustafa, “Islamophobia: Meaning, Manifestations, Causes,” Palestine-Israel Journal, Vol. 12, No. 2&3, 2005

[7] Goodfield, Kayla, “‘I’m not racist’: Jagmeet Singh’s heckler posts video defending herself,” CTV News Toronto, Sept. 11, 2017  

[8] Semati, Mehdi. “Islamophobia, Culture and Race in the Age of Empire.” Cultural Studies 24, no. 2, 2010. p. 256-275.  

[9] “Observations sur l’apperçu provisoire des grandes lignes du rapport déposé par le Canada auprès du Comité pour l’élimination de la discrimination raciale.” CJPME Foundation. March 2015, p. 2.

[10] Arab Canadian Lawyers Association, Anti-Palestinian Racism: Naming, Framing and Manifestations, 8, 20.

[11]  Davide Mastracci, “A list of some people in Canada fired for pro-Palestine views,” The Maple, November 10, 2023,

[12]  Joanna Lavoie, “Suspect charged after person wearing keffiyeh assaulted in Toronto's Yorkville area,” CP24, November 7, 2023,

[13] National Council of Canadian Muslims (@nccm). 2023. Twitter, November 25, 2023, 10:03 a.m.,

[14] Elianna Lev, “'She's against torture, but wants us to be tortured?': Montreal woman verbally attacks driver with Palestine flag,” Yahoo News, October 12, 2023,

[15] Steven Zhou, “Islamophobia: ‘I have never seen it this bad,’” Toronto Star, November 8, 2023,

[16] Doug Ford (@fordnation). 2023. “The hate rallies celebrating the kidnapping and slaughtering of innocent Israeli people by terrorists are reprehensible and disgusting. They have no place in Ontario. Now more than ever, we stand with Israel and affirm its right to defend itself and its people.” Twitter, October 8, 2023, 2:09 p.m., 

[17] Stacey Lee Kong, “Ben Mulroney’s Xenophobic Tweets and 3 Other Recent Journalism Fails,” Friday Things, November 10, 2023,

[18] Edmonton Journal (@edmontonjournal). 2023. “Malcolm Mayes editorial cartoons for November 2023.” Twitter, November 22, 2023, 3:31 p.m.,

[19] Elias Makos (@eliasmakos). 2023. “Saturday in downtown Montreal is going to be… interesting. Will you celebrate the colonialist oppressor Santa Claus? Or will you join members of the Tide Pod Taliban and other “comrades” in an event that will totally not glorify violence?” Twitter, November 21, 2023, 2:41 p.m., 

[20] Jim Brown, “Charges stayed against Calgary protester accused of causing hate-motivated disturbance,” CBC News, November 17, 2023,

[21]Holly Yan and Brad Parks, “A 6-year-old Palestinian-American was stabbed 26 times for being Muslim, police say. His mom couldn’t go to his funeral because she was stabbed, too,” CNN, October 16, 2023, 

[22]Al Jazeera, “Three Palestinian students aged 20 shot in Vermont, US: What to know,” November 27, 2023,

[23]Jasmin Zine quoted by Mouhamad Rachini, “Some Palestinian and Muslim Canadians fearful 'simply for existing' as Israel-Hamas war continues,” CBC, November 24, 2023,