The Alberta Muslim Public Affairs Council (AMPAC) is calling on the federal government to fund deradicalization programs and place the Three Percenters and other far-right extremist groups on the terror list.
The call to address the rise in hate crimes and far-right extremism came as AMPAC honoured the 50 worshippers killed in two mosques in New Zealand on Friday.
“They’ve shown radical tendencies and they’ve got a clear trail that shows that they are a dangerous group that needs to be addressed,” AMPAC spokesperson Adil Hassan told a crowd that included municipal and provincial politicians, police, and local faith and Indigenous leaders.
“The lives that were lost, we don’t want that to be in vain,” said Hassan, who moments earlier had addressed the audience that included his six-month old son. “We want to make sure that we see some concrete action moving forward in terms of how we address the rising trend of the alt right and hate crimes in Alberta and Canada.
A little earlier, Momin Saeed, a vice-president with AMPAC, which is entirely made up of volunteers, delivered a powerful speech.
He pointed out that the New Zealand attacker paid homage to the perpetrator of the Quebec terrorist attack, and said whether it was the mass shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue or at a black church in South Carolina, the attacks were motivated by the same white supremacist sentiment.
Saeed said Edmontonians lost relatives in the New Zealand attack, which came at a time when Alberta grapples with its own rising hate crimes, graffiti at places of worship, online threats and troubling “patrols” by neo-Nazi groups.
He called out journalists and politicians who fan the flames of anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and xenophobia.
“What value is your election if it’s built on hysteria? How are you a true leader in any capacity if you cannot get elected on your own merit, on your own acclamation?” he asked, as applause broke out among the audience that included Health Minister Sarah Hoffman and leader of the Alberta Party Stephen Mandel.
‘You belong here’
Cori Longo attended the event with her baby, Eliot, carrying a sign that said, “You belong here, we will protect you.” She said she hopes to raise her son to understand that all faiths and races are accepted and no one should live in fear.
“This is happening more and more in our communities and we need to stand up,” said Longo. “The political climate and what we’re seeing on social media, it’s more and more of this hate messaging out there. They’re becoming more vocal and there needs to be allies that stand up and speak out and help protect this community.”
Hoffman offered her condolences to Muslims who may be feeling unsafe.
On Friday the province announced the establishment of a provincial task force to investigate hate groups and crimes in Alberta.
“We are your brothers and your sisters and we recommit to fighting with you against racism, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism and extremism,” Hoffman said.
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