People attend a vigil in support of the Muslim community in Montreal, Quebec, January 30, 2017. REUTERS/Dario Ayala Image Credit: REUTERS

The Quebec massacre isn’t a surprise, as the sky has been the limit with regards to the hate propagated by right-wing media and politicians. I felt concerned about what I was hearing and reading from these media outlets throughout the years. It kept alarming me and I would often warn the community. Some television stations, based in the US, have even dedicated themselves to smearing, vilifying and vehemently attacking Islam.

Author of the book ‘Being Muslim’, Haroon Siddiqui, wrote an analysis piece on the factors that contributed to the Quebec massacre in the New York Times. He said: “Long before Donald Trump and some Republicans began demonising Muslims and “radical Islam”, the government of [Canadian Prime Minister Justin] Trudeau’s predecessor as prime minister, Stephen Harper, was maligning Islam and discriminating against Muslims. So were the governments of our two largest provinces, Ontario and Quebec, in varying degrees.”

What occurred in Quebec is a result of the anti-Islamic sentiment that was perpetuated by the media. This massacre and terrorist attack is a wake-up call for media houses and politicians to act responsibly. Muslims have taken so many punches and they must rise up to their bullies. The media has the responsibility to act with integrity, responsibility and professionalism, exactly the way it deals with other communities. The amount of garbage that is tolerated against Muslims would never be allowed if it is directed to others. Muslims need to stand up for their rights and demand respect. Bullies must be confronted.

The right-wing media employs Muslim writers who vilify and dehumanise their own people in an attempt to attain name and fame. Everyone deserves respect, Muslims included. They are not a feast on the menu that everyone must enjoy. Muslims should stand up with dignity and not take the abuse, vilification and dehumanisation against them. We are human beings who work hard to support our families, pay taxes and contribute to the wellbeing of the society. We did not come to places like Canada, with a hidden agenda to take over the land and impose our own will on others. We have come to make ends meet, raise our families in peace and build our country together. We hold no grudges against any other human beings.

As Siddiqui said: “I remain an incurably optimistic Canadian, and I want to believe that Canada is still not the United States. But as Sunday’s attack showed, we face the challenge of undoing the damage of years of suspicion and bigotry.”

- The reader is a freelance writer based in Toronto, Canada