Region of Concern: Canada
Written By Alessandra Deroma; Edited by Iris Hautaniemi Forsberg, Elena Alice Rossetti
Date: September 12, 2023
Event: On September 5, the trial of Nathaniel Veltman started. He is charged with terrorism, first-degree murder, and attempted murder inspired by white nationalism: In 2021, he ran over a Muslim family of five in London, Ontario, killing four people and injuring a child. Police found electronic devices with which he surfed white supremacist content on the dark web, specifically the neo-Nazi site Daily Stormer. Psychological studies have shown how the internet plays a significant role in radicalizing individuals with an absence or lack of social interactions. This attack is not the only Islamophobic incident in the country: In 2017, a gunman shot inside the Islamic Center for evening prayers in Quebec; in 2022, a man threatened worshippers with a hatchet and bear spray inside the Dar Al-Tawheed Islamic Centre; in April 2023, a man menaced a Muslim woman with a gun outside the mosque in Kitchener, and, at the Markham mosque, a man attacked and insulted the Imam and some worshippers. The latest police-reported statistics show how hate crime complaints have increased in all provinces nationwide, especially in Ontario. In January 2023, Canada appointed the first Special Representative on Combatting Islamophobia.
Significance: Islamophobic attacks will very likely increase in the country in proportion to the rise of propaganda against immigration. Islamic worship places will likely be the most sensitive areas. Veltman's trial could very likely spur emulators to commit similar acts. His prosecution could almost certainly become an occasion for Islamophobic demonstrations by individuals or groups. Social media could almost certainly influence the younger population, prompting them to commit violent acts. Alt-right groups could very likely exploit forums and social networks to recruit new affiliates and create a network among like-minded groups. Followers' increase could likely facilitate raising funds through private donations aimed at committing hate crimes. There is a roughly even chance that far-right groups will hold more public demonstrations due to growing followers, arguing that it is part of their right to freedom of expression.
Recommendations: CTG recommends that Canadian law enforcement agencies strengthen controls around places of Islamic worship and immigrants' host sites. The Government of Canada should ensure more funds for the police for specific training to detect suspicious behavior. It should advance stricter federal laws so that hate crimes do not remain unpunished, including online incitement to hatred. It should implement sustainable educational plans in schools and universities to eradicate xenophobic sentiments. The Canadian Ministry of Education should get more funding to enhance psychological support for school and homeschooling students, providing special attention to ongoing radicalization pathways. The Special Representative on Combatting Islamophobia and the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) should reinforce ties with affected communities and suggest protection solutions.
 Canadian charged with murder of four Muslims was 'inspired by white nationalism', Hindustan Times, September 2023, https://www.hindustantimes.com/world-news/canadian-charged-with-murder-of-four-muslims-was-inspired-by-white-nationalism-101694465254798.html
 Suspect in killing of Muslim family in London, Ont., may have accessed neo-Nazi site on dark web: documents, CP24, March 2022, https://www.cp24.com/news/suspect-in-killing-of-muslim-family-in-london-ont-may-have-accessed-neo-nazi-site-on-dark-web-documents-1.5819477?cache=a%2Bhref
 Terrorism and the internet: How dangerous is online radicalization?, Front Psychol., October 2022, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9606324/#:~:text=Online%20radicalization%20is%20here%20understood,other%20forms%20of%20online%20communication.
 Charges laid against man after worshippers at Ontario mosque attacked with bear spray, CBC, March 2022, https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/mississauga-mosque-hate-crime-custody-1.6391028
 WRPS investigating after gun reportedly pointed at Muslim woman in Kitchener, CBC, April 2023, https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/kitchener-waterloo/kitchener-masjid-islamophobia-gun-muslim-1.6808317
 Charges laid after 2nd suspected hate-motivated incident at Markham mosque in less than a week, CBC, April 2023, https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/mosque-suspected-hate-motived-incident-april-9-markham-1.6807097
 Infographic: Police-reported hate crime in Canada, 2021, Statistics Canada, March 2023, https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/11-627-m/11-627-m2023026-eng.htm
 Prime Minister announces appointment of Canada’s first Special Representative on Combatting Islamophobia, Government of Canada, January 2023, https://www.pm.gc.ca/en/news/news-releases/2023/01/26/prime-minister-announces-appointment-canadas-first-special