No place for Islamophobia and anti-Muslim hate

A recent letter published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) referred to the hijab as “an instrument of oppression” and invoked many Islamophobic tropes and stereotypes about hijab-wearing Muslim women. Muslim healthcare professionals and community members across Canada were deeply shocked and disappointed, and the letter was subsequently retracted with a formal apology. 

Anti-Muslim hate and Islamophobia are on the rise in our country. A 2018 Environics Survey in Canada concluded that  “of all the distinct groups in Canadian society today, Muslims are most widely considered to be the ‘other’ because of where they come from, associations with terrorism in other countries, and specific religious practices like head coverings.”

Statistics Canada found hate crimes against Muslims in Canada grew 253 per cent from 2012 to 2015.

Visibly identifiable Muslims, and specifically hijab-wearing Muslim women, are at the receiving end of hate and discrimination, including in our own community.

The writing and publication of the recent CMAJ letter further confirm the lack of understanding of the malignant and dangerous impact of Islamophobia and anti-Muslim hate in academic settings and in medicine, and highlights the importance of diverse representation and inclusiveness in leadership at decision making tables.

We acknowledge the emotional trauma experienced by our Muslim colleagues and learners and are fully committed to providing the necessary support and working to advance a more inclusive environment.

There is no place for Islamophobia and anti-Muslim hate at Temerty Medicine. 

We encourage you to reach out to Prof. Umberin Najeeb, the Faculty’s Senior Advisor on Islamophobia or to the Office of Inclusion and Diversity to discuss your concerns. Prof. Najeeb can be reached through the OID office, at

As a Faculty, we are committed to better understanding and addressing the complex issue of Islamophobia and anti-Muslim hate. In addition to the appointment of a Senior Advisor on Islamophobia to provide additional insights and support for faculty, staff and learners at Temerty Medicine, we are committed to:

  • Listening to our Muslim faculty members and learners through formal and informal meetings and surveys;
  • Developing new MD program teaching on religious discrimination;
  • Developing a religious handbook, which will include myths and stereotypes about Muslims;
  • Renewing our social justice and anti-oppression curriculum;
  • Offering Grand Rounds discussing Islamophobia in medical education;
  • Providing faculty development for leaders;
  • Establishing a learner advisory council with Muslim learners across Temerty Medicine;
  • Ensuring religious accommodation for Muslim learners in clinical and learning spaces;
  • Initiating the process of establishing a post-doc fellowship in Islamophobia
  • Reviewing experiences of discrimination and harassment that are brought forward by Muslim learners to the Office of Learner Experience.

There is still much more to be done and we have only taken the first few steps. Our vision is to create a culture of inclusion and belonging at Temerty Medicine where all colleagues, learners and staff continue to excel and thrive.


Prof. Umberin Najeeb Senior Advisor on Islamophobia

Prof. Lisa Richardson, Associate Dean, Inclusion & Diversity

Temerty Faculty of Medicine Office of Inclusion and Diversity