Over the long weekend, while Canadian families from across the country tuned into NHL playoffs, Arab-Muslim-Canadian Colorado Avalanche player, Nazem Kadri, and his family were the subject of fierce anti-Arab-racist and Islamophobic social media posts and death threats, after he was involved in a collision during a game on Saturday night that left another player out for the rest of the series.
The Canadian Arab Institute (CAI) and the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) have condemned the anti-Arab racism and Islamophobia targeting Kadri and his family.
CAI and NCCM are calling on the NHL to amend their Fan Code of Conduct to ban fans who direct death threats and racist slurs towards players and their families.
Some Twitter posts called Kadri an "Arab scum" and a “towel head”. On Instagram, Kadri received hate mail from people calling him a “stupid Arab” and a “f***ing immigrant” who “should’ve never came to America.”
Other posts, which have been deleted, included death threats. Kadri was also subject to Islamophobic attacks, insinuating that he is a terrorist. Kadri, who was born in London, ON and is of Lebanese descent, acknowledged that he has been dealing with racial slurs for much of his life.
Kadri is not alone - racialized players have experienced consequences and hate when incidents take place in a game.
In the last few months, Kadri, Akim Aliu (Calgary), Matt Dumba (Minnesota), Wayne Simmonds (Toronto) and Anthony Duclair (Florida), among others, formed the Hockey Diversity Alliance, and have come forward about the racism that they’ve endured by fans, coaches, and the League itself.
“This year, CAI is campaigning for April to be designated as Arab Heritage Month. Last month, we celebrated Kadri, as his story and resilience has inspired thousands of racialized youth across the country to get on the ice. Today, we are condemning the attacks he is facing for being Arab and Muslim on the ice. Representation matters, but it must also be accompanied with support mechanisms to combat racism because these online threats translate to offline violence – 66% of hate crimes reported by Arab-Canadians last year were violent.” said Jad El Tal, Director of Research and Policy at CAI.
“Discrimination and racism in all of their forms have no place in sports. We hope for a future in hockey where young Arabs, Muslims, and other racialized youth in Canada, can dream to play in the NHL, without fearing for their safety due to their identity. The NHL must do the right thing and take a stand against racism,” said Omar Khamissa of NCCM.