File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS Jason Kenney speaks to the media at his first convention as leader of the United Conservative Party in Red Deer. Faisal Suri, president of the Alberta Muslim Public Affairs Council, said Kenney must do more and specifically call out Islamophobia.

Conservatives’ Kenney criticized for response to hate letter at Edmonton mosque

EDMONTON — A hate letter bearing a United Conservative logo dropped off at an Edmonton mosque has Muslim advocates and Premier Rachel Notley demanding party leader Jason Kenney take a stronger stand against Islamophobia.

Kenney has already condemned the letter and neither he nor the Alberta Muslim Public Affairs Council believe the UCP had anything to do with it.

The letter was delivered in recent days to the Markaz Ul Islam in southeast Edmonton and made public by the council on social media Wednesday.

Faisal Suri, president of the council, said Kenney must do more and specifically call out Islamophobia.

“It’s not just hate towards Muslims, but also hate against the religion,” Suri said in an interview. “It has to be recognized.

“People are not feeling safe. They don’t want to come to their place of worship. It should be a safe haven for anyone.”

Suri said the Edmonton Police hate crimes unit has been notified.

The letter, dated Jan. 30, stated Islam is a sham religion with no place in Alberta.

“We are white. We are Christians. We are proud,” reads the letter. “You will not force your savage laws on us.

“Our premier-to-be Jason Kenney is going to take Alberta back.”

Kenney reacted in a Facebook posting, saying: “This hatred and bigotry has no place in our Alberta. All Albertans must be free to practice their faith in peace.”

He said those who “spread hate and division” have no place in the UCP.

Notley, in her own statement, joined Suri’s call for Kenney to take a stronger, more specific stand.

“This is a leadership moment for Mr. Kenney and a test of his character,” wrote Notley. “While Jason Kenney has said there’s no place for hatred in his party, racists and extremists clearly feel welcome with them.

“Mr. Kenney has an elected obligation to personally condemn these values and to also take concrete actions to evict those factions from the UCP.”

Kenney’s spokesperson, Christine Myatt, said in a statement they won’t respond to Notley’s “drive-by smear.”

Myatt said Kenney has specifically denounced Islamophobia numerous times over the years.

“It is disappointing, although not surprising, to see the NDP use such a despicable act as an opportunity to score cheap political points,” wrote Myatt.

All parties are gearing up for a spring election that can now by law be called at any time, but must be held before the end of May.

Kenney’s UCP has seen a few nomination candidates linked to anti-Muslim social media posts. Those candidates either withdrew, lost their nomination race or were not allowed to run.

There is heightened concern in the Alberta capital over anti-Muslim extremism. Last month, police were called after members of an anti-Islamic group showed up at the Al Rashid Mosque and confronted people arriving for Friday prayers.

Jason Kenney

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