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City-sponsored ads hope to stem Islamophobia, prejudice against Syrian migrants

June 15, 2016

CBC News | The city has partnered with an immigrant settlement agency to battle what they believe is a rise in anti-Muslim sentiment in Toronto.

The city and the Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants launched an ad campaign on Tuesday, one of which features a white male in profile telling a woman in a hijab to go back where she came from.

“Where,” the woman responds, “North York?”

OCASI executive director Debbie Douglas said she has “absolutely” seen a rise in anti-Muslim sentiments since refugees began arriving from Syria in large numbers in December.

‘I’ll never vote for you again’
Ward 21 St. Paul’s Coun. Joe Mihevc, who has been helping to organize the campaign, said he has personally dealt with anti-Muslim sentiment in his work trying to bring in a Syrian family.

“I had people swearing at us over the phone, saying take my name off your mailing list, I’ll never vote for you again,” he said. “It’s a minority, but it’s out there.”

Mihevc also said he’s not worried about any backlash from people who may feel the city is unfairly labelling them as xenophobic.

“Some people might get their backs up, but that’s okay,” he said.

About 100 of the ads will be placed in bus shelters across the city. The campaign runs until July 10 at a cost of $80,000, Mihevc said.

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