CityOpinion

Wolves of Odin incident at local mosque poses threat to Canadian values

For those who don’t live here, Canada might seem like a heaven on earth, with an extravagant and sluggish lifestyle that everyone yearns for. Purportedly standing in the face of the forces of right-wing populism, the country has constantly boasted of being a home for immigrants and Syrian refugees, especially under the leadership of its handsome prime minister Justin Trudeau.

However, the dream of Canada being an ideal country for people to thrive in without discrimination is continuously failing to line up with reality. Hate crimes, racism, and the rise of Islamophobia among the Canadian masses loom.

One incident that has recently sparked debates in Edmonton is that of two men who visited the Al Rashid mosque. One wore a toque with the word kaafer (infidel/unbeliever in Arabic) printed on it. The two men are members of the Wolves of Odin, a splinter-group of the Edmonton chapter of the white nationalist group Soldiers of Odin. They toured the mosque and went upstairs to the women’s section, making it seem like they were scouting the mosque’s layout. When the men were approached by the mosque executive director, they left immediately to join other Wolves of Odin members outside before tensions escalated with members of the Muslim community.

Tyson Hunt, one of the two men who committed the act of provocation, told Global News they just wanted to use the bathroom and learn about Islam. He also added “I’ve got a tattoo on my neck that says ‘infidel’ as well… Christians don’t get offended by it… I’ve gotten more feedback by the Muslims than I have anybody else.”

However, these words only seem to throw smoke on what really happened. The history of the group’s activities suggest they’re determined to promote anti-Islamic crimes. On Tuesday last week, Ty’s Canadian Infidels, a Facebook page Hunt said to StarMetro Edmonton he manages, posted a Google Maps screenshot identifying many mosques in Edmonton, accompanied by the caption “Something to chew on.” This sounds like a determination to continue to provoke Muslims in Edmonton.

The purpose of the tattoo, as well as the act of scouting the mosque, then, are far from innocent. The group seems to specifically use the word kaaferas a provocation against Muslims, hoping to further incite Islamophobia and xenophobia amongst Canadians; as such, Muslims have every right to question the actions taken at the mosque and call upon the provincial hate crimes unit to take measures against the Wolves of Odin.

Whether or not these men wanted to learn about Islam, the fact that they seemed determined to provoke Muslims speaks volumes about the current political climate in Canada. The prevalence of hate-motivated crimes stands in stark contrast with Canada’s raison d’etre, which is premised on immigrants as a positive force for progress and development. While it may seem tempting for some to say that claims of Islamophobia rearing its head in Canada are mere exaggerations, the existence of groups like the Wolves of Odin seems to suggest otherwise.

Islamophobia is still on the rise and poses an existential threat to liberal Canadian society. It’s incumbent on the local police to curb this group or at least continue monitoring their activities to prevent simialr incidents. Disregarding the incident and striving to frame it not as motivated by hatred would simply exacerbate Islamaphobia in this country.

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