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Don't just rely on the government to combat hate crime, Trudeau says at Hamilton mosque

"This community has never been afraid of a little hard work and neither am I," Trudeau said before leaving the Hamilton Mountain Mosque.

"This community has never been afraid of a little hard work and neither am I," Trudeau said before leaving the Hamilton Mountain Mosque.

Photo: Bobby Hristova/CBC

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Hamilton imams are optimistic after meeting with prime minister

Canadians can't rely on the government to combat hate crime, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said at Hamilton Mountain Mosque on Monday morning. Ordinary citizens have to play their part too. 

Trudeau condemned recent displays of Islamophobia, including the death of a London family and an alleged attack on two Hamilton Muslim women by a person in a truck. Those incidents were unacceptable and scary, he told the crowd during his remarks about Eid al-Adha. He also referenced homophobia, misogyny and antisemitism.

We need all of us — Muslim, non-Muslim — to recognize that the intolerance and hatred that exists around the world also exists in Canada, he said. 

But it won't be enough just for governments to act — even a federal government. It needs to be all Canadians, he said.

As much as the counter to that ought to be government passing another law — and we will — the counter to that should come from our communities, our cities.

WATCH: Trudeau says all Canadians need to fight Islamophobia

This community has never been afraid of a little hard work, and neither am I. We will roll up our sleeves together.

Speaking to reporters Monday afternoon, he said people need to call out discrimination when they see it and stand with people who are afraid. He added people can reach out to community groups to find out ways to help.

Trudeau's visit comes days after Hamilton Police Service say a mom and daughter were targeted in a hate crime that involved someone uttering anti-Muslim slurs.

The imam of the Hamilton Downtown Mosque, Kamal Gurgi, said the two women are his wife and daughter.

Police say a woman, 62, and daughter, 26, were in an Ancaster Meadowlands parking lot on July 12 when they were almost hit by a driver pulling out of a parking spot.

As the women walked away, the driver allegedly started chasing them in his truck. 

A Cambridge, Ont., man now faces a number of charges, including assault with a weapon.

Imams optimistic Trudeau taking Islamophobia seriously

Gurgi initially said the federal government didn't take enough action to thwart Islamophobia, but now has more optimism after meeting with Trudeau.

He said the prime minister promised to speed up the his mosque's application to beef up security.

I sensed his honesty and seriousness, Gurgi said in an interview on Tuesday afternoon.

Imam Kamal Gurgi stood outside of the Hamilton Downtown Mosque days after police say someone threatened to kill his wife and daughter.

Imam Kamal Gurgi stood outside of the Hamilton Downtown Mosque days after police say someone threatened to kill his wife and daughter.

Photo: Bobby Hristova/CBC

He also said he agrees with Trudeau's comments that government cannot fight racism alone.

Trudeau's visit to Hamilton follows the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) release of 60 policy recommendations (new window) to combat hate and racism across the country.

Imam Sayed Tora, of the Hamilton Mountain Mosque, said on Tuesday that he also met with Trudeau. He echoed Gurgi's optimism. He said people shouldn't be fearful because the government, police and their faith will protect them.

The federal government previously announced an emergency national summit (new window) on Islamophobia would occur July 22.

Government to build 328 residential units across Ontario

Trudeau also announced the government will build 328 rental units across southern Ontario.

That includes 95 in Hamilton, 72 in London, 68 in Mississauga, 50 in Simcoe, and 43 in Kitchener.

He said the units will have an energy-efficient passive housing design, which will be better for the environment and have lower operating costs. That means more affordable units.

It'll cost about $5 million.

He shared the news at Indwell's Royal Oak Dairy (new window) project in the lower city's Landsdale neighbourhood.

Labour Minister Filomena Tassi, also MP for Hamilton West-Ancaster-Dundas, and Ahmed Hussen, minister of families, children and social development, joined him.

It comes as locals have complained about soaring home prices and rising rent costs in recent years.


With files from Samantha Craggs

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