A West Island Liberal candidate said Wednesday that he will continue to campaign, despite being the target of a “public display of racism.”
Sameer Zuberi made the comment on Twitter Wednesday after at least three of his election posters were defaced with racist slurs, referring to people of Pakistani and Indian origins.
One of the signs even included a death threat.
Zuberi, whose father was born in Pakistan, is running for re-election in the federal riding of Pierrefonds-Dollard.
He strongly condemned the anonymous acts, calling them “unacceptable, appalling and cowardly.”
In an interview with Global News, Zuberi also indicated that the location of the vandalized signs wasn’t an accident.
One hangs on a hydro pole in front of the Makkah Al Mukkaramah Mosque in Pierrefonds, the other is posted in front of a nearby school.
“Both of these institutions have high concentrations of both Pakistanis and Indians,” Zuberi said. “It was targeted and it was deliberate. There was an intent to create fear and hate within the community.”
In a post on Twitter, the Canadian Muslim Forum was quick to denounce the graffiti, saying it “deplores with the strongest terms the vandalism.”
Zuberi first won a seat in the House of Commons in the 2019 election with 56.7 per cent of the vote. He is also a member of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights and the Standing Committee for the Scrutiny of Regulations.
Zuberi said that he’ll continue to forge ahead.
“It’s disheartening and sad,” he said, “but it’s also why I do what I do, which is to stand strong to address discrimination and racism in the clearest possible terms and to continue to move ahead to help build a better Canada.”
Zuberi said he intends to file a police report which would make it the second one of his campaign. The first one was made after posters were taken down and defaced with graffiti.
“This is the first instance of xenophobic, hate and with death being thrown out there too at the same time,” he said of Wednesday’s vandalism.
He hopes whoever is responsible will reflect on what they have done “and see that this wasn’t the right thing to do.”
Pierrefonds resident Salem Khan echoed Zuberi’s sentiment.
“The people who write this should understand that humanity comes first,” he said, adding that one’s colour, culture, religious beliefs or where they come from shouldn’t matter.
The election campaign has been marred by other similar instances of racism.
In August, the election signs of four Liberal candidates in Ontario and Quebec were vandalized with anti-Semitic graffiti while NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh was verbally assaulted with racist remarks.
Rachel Bendayan and Anthony Housefather, both Jewish, are running for re-election in their Montreal ridings of Outremont and Mount Royal respectively — areas that are home to large Jewish communities.
The incidents were strongly condemned by the candidates and members of the Jewish community.
At the time, Bendayan told Global News that while the incidents don’t represent the views of the majority, it’s important to remain vigilant and speak up.
“Certainly this is a very small minority of people that are spreading hateful messages, but if we don’t take the time to call out hate for what it is, then it spreads,” she said.
Bendayan also expressed concern with hate directed at other groups, including Canada’s Asian community which has experienced a big spike in anti-Asian crimes this past year.
Canadians head to the polls on Sept. 20.
— with files from Global News’ Alessia Maratta, Gloria Henriquez and The Canadian Press.
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