By Barry Ellsworth
TRENTON, Canada (AA) - Canada has appointed its first special representative to combat Islamophobia, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Thursday.
Amira Elghawaby is a former journalist, a founding member of the Canadian Anti-Hate Network, and was instrumental in creating the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM), the largest Muslim organization in the country.
As the special representative, Elghawaby will lead the federal government's fight "against Islamophobia, systemic racism, racial discrimination, and religious intolerance," the prime minister's office said in a press release.
Specifically, she will advise the Trudeau government on what policies and legislation to bring forward to counter the "threat" of Islamophobia.
Her appointment was applauded by Stephen Brown, chief executive officer of the NCCM.
"While at NCCM, Amira was a passionate advocate, fighting so many critical battles for our community at a time when we needed a champion," Brown said. "Realistically, I’m not sure if there would be an NCCM without Amira.
"We look forward to continuing to work with her, her office, and all those who want to eliminate the threat of Islamophobia in Canada," he said.
The appointment comes as the sixth anniversary nears of the killing of six Muslims who were gunned down while worshipping at a Quebec City mosque on Jan. 29, 2017. Another 19 were injured, some seriously.
"Since 2017, Canada has seen 11 individuals perish in acts of anti-Muslim violence," Brown said.
Trudeau said "no one in our country should experience hatred because of their faith," adding: "The appointment of Ms. Elghawaby as Canada’s first Special Representative on Combatting Islamophobia is an important step in our fight against Islamophobia and hatred in all its forms."
There are about 1.8 million Muslims in Canada, which has an estimated population of 38 million.