‘ARAB scum’ scrawled on Khalil Ramal election signs in London-Fanshawe
Racist vandalism on more than two dozen campaign signs in the riding of London-Fanshawe has prompted equal measures of concern, and disgust from politicians of all stripes.
All of the signs belonged to Liberal candidate Khalil Ramal, and all of them were adorned with hateful messages — including the words ‘Arab scum,’ ‘Muslim scum.’
“I was upset… but this is not going to affect me, this is not going to change my direction, and change my conviction.” Ramal, who is Muslim, told AM980.
“I believe strongly in the people of London-Fanshawe, I believe strongly in the people of London, and I believe strongly in the people of Canada. That’s why I came from Lebanon in 1989 to a place that believes strongly in multi-culturalism and diversity.”
Approximately 20 to 30 signs in the area were defaced with racist messages either late Tuesday, or early Wednesday, according to officials with the Ramal campaign.
The incident has been reported to London Police.
London resident Maros Luzak noticed one of the defaced signs on Wednesday morning in the Adelaide and Osgoode Drive area while taking his daughter to daycare.
“It was shocking to see that kind of stuff is still going on in Canada,” he said.
“I’m an immigrant myself — my step-father is Jamaican, my step-mom is Hispanic, so I’ve been around multiculturalism my whole life, and I figured that kind of thing was over with, at least in our city. But when I turned that corner, and saw that sign, it sort of reminded me that it’s not over with, and it still needs to be taken care of.” Luzak told AM980.
“Londoners are good, and decent people,” said Irene Mathyssen, the New Democrat candidate in London-Fanshawe, seeking a fourth term in Ottawa.
“Every campaign there is sign damage, we don’t like it, it’s not democratic. This is another example of the kind of damage every candidate is experiencing. What is more important is we talk about what matters in this community.”
The vandalism comes amid a promise by Prime Minister Stephen Harper to continue a court fight to ban women from wearing the niqab during citizenship ceremonies, and a new promise to look at banning public servants from wearing the niqab at work if he’s re-elected October 19th.
Mathyssen, however, does not think it’s fair to draw a link between those pledges, and the vandalism directed towards Ramal’s election signs.
“I think that’s more an issue with Mr. Harper, and his excesses, but in terms of Londoners… it’s just, we (candidates) get sign damage and this is another example of the kind of damage that every candidate is experiencing” she said, noting some of her signs have been cut or burned in recent weeks.
Conservative candidate Suzanna Dieleman was not mincing words when offering her reaction.
“Vandalism like this is so disrespectful. It’s disrespectful to Khalil, it’s disrespectful to Arabs, it’s disrespectful to everyone involved in the democratic process,” she told AM980 on Wednesday.
London-Fanshawe Green party candidate Matthew Peloza also tweeted support for his political rival.
“There is no excuse for what happened to @khalilforMP. He doesn’t deserve it and it shouldn’t happen.”