In a new effort by the Canadian government to fight Islamophobia, the City of London, southwestern Ontario, has appointed Ahmer Khan as the city’s first Muslim Community Liaison Advisor.
Assuming the role in December 2022, Khan was formally introduced to a city committee on Thursday.
“It’s never been done before No level of government has actually pushed out a response committed to fighting Islamophobia such as this one,” he told CBC.
“And so there were many candidates who applied for the role, and I was lucky enough to be selected.”
Assuming the new role, Khan has an action plan to combat and disrupt Islamophobia on different levels.
“It’s basically combating Islamophobia on a variety of levels: in education, health, and bylaw, creating youth fellowship to advise counsel, to celebrate Islamic art and history and making sure that the education piece is the most important piece where the future generations understand differences and support those differences,” he said.
Islamophobic attacks across Canada have risen at alarming levels. The attacks have increased in frequency, many are targeting visibly Muslim women and girls.
Hate crimes targeting Muslims have significantly increased last year according to a report released by Statistics Canada in August 2022.
Yet, education is on the top of Khan’s to-do list.
“Peel District School Board has passed an anti-Islamophobia strategy, the first of its kind across Canada. I know there’s been some appetite for London to follow, Thames Valley District School Board I’m working with,” he said.
“London Catholic District School Board is another stakeholder I’m working with. And so what that looks like when it will be rolled out and, you know, hopefully sooner better than later.”
Khan’s appointment is not the first step taken by the Canadian government to counter Islamophobia.
Earlier this year, Canadian Muslim human rights advocate Amira Elghawaby was nominated as Canada’s first representative to combat Islamophobia and fight discrimination against the Muslim community.
Canadian Muslims praised her appointment as a step in the right direction to combat rising Islamophobia.