US & Canada

Hate crime reports increase slightly in Canada

Swastika signs on the front doors of Ottawa's Machzikei Hadas Synagogue Image copyright Andrew Foote/CBC
Image caption Swastikas signs were sprayed on the front doors of Ottawa's Machzikei Hadas Synagogue in 2016

Hate crimes reported in Canada rose slightly in 2015, driven mainly by incidents targeting Muslims, Arabs and West Asians, say official figures.

Police reported 1,362 criminal incidents across Canada motivated by hate, a 5% increase from the previous year.

The findings were published on Tuesday by Statistics Canada.

The annual report by the federal statistics agency was compiled using police data from across the country.

Nearly half of all incidents were linked to race or ethnicity, with black Canadians the most common target.

Just over a third of reported hate crimes were motivated by hatred of a religion.

Canada's Jewish population remained the most targeted religious group, accounting for 13% of all incidents, despite a decline in the overall number of reported crimes.

Shimon Koffler Fogel, with the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, called the data "disturbing and clear".

He also said in the statement that the Jewish community stood with other targeted groups in condemning hatred in all its forms.

"An attack on one of us is an attack on all of us," he said.

Muslims reported being more frequently targeted in 2015, with 159 incidents reported compared with 99 in 2014, accounting for 12% of all incidents.

However, Statistics Canada notes many police services have reached out to ethnic communities and there have been efforts by groups like the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) to encourage reporting.

Incidents targeting Catholics also increased, jumping from 35 to 55 individual incidents.

Almost 40% of all reported hate crimes were considered violent incidents, which could include assault and uttering threats.

Members of the LGBT community reported slightly fewer hate crimes in 2015 but were more likely to be the victims of hate-related violence.

In a news conference following the report's release, the NCCM's legal counsel, Khalid Elgazzar, pointed to the murder of six men in a Quebec City mosque this January as "a painful reminder of how hate can destroy lives and deeply shake communities".

The NCCM was joined by other groups in calling for more funding and resources for police forces to fight hate crimes and improve reporting.

The Statistics Canada report notes that the figures do not paint a full picture of the true extent of hate crime in Canada. They suggest that only about 35% of hate crimes are actually reported to police.

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