A month after the Paris attacks, I was in a community psychiatric unit in Brunswick, Nova Scotia, when a psychiatrist told me she had seen the first signs of what she called a “disease of Islamophobia” within the community.
I was a Canadian Muslim who, like most of the country’s 1.4 million Muslims, was grappling with the fallout from the terror attacks in the Middle East.
The first step in that process, according to the psychiatrist, was the appointment of a psychiatrist.
She explained to me the basics: I had been told by my parents that I needed to become a psychiatrist to help me deal with my trauma and depression.
This was the first step.
I had to be medically fit to work in a psychiatric hospital, which meant I needed an appointment with a psychiatrist within a certain time frame.
A psychiatrist was the only way I could receive a full psychiatric assessment and diagnosis.
I thought this would be the start of the healing process for me.
But it was not.
The next step was to go to a psychiatrist who was an immigrant who had previously worked in the mental health system, to see how the experience had been for him.
After talking with the psychiatrist for about an hour, I left with my anxiety and depression in check.
A month later, I came back to the psychiatric unit to find that my parents had called me in tears.
The psychiatrist was telling me she was very upset.
“The mosque is full of men who have been involved in terror attacks, and I’m just not sure they should be able to go back to work,” she said.
“It’s just not right.”
At the time, I had no idea that Islamophobia was as prevalent in Canada as it was in the United States.
Islamophobia is a term used to describe prejudice against Muslims in the country, based on their religion or culture.
In Canada, Islamophobia has long been an issue, as evidenced by recent comments by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who said that “radicalisation and violent extremism is a global threat”.
While Islamophobia exists across the country and across generations, there is a significant gender gap in the treatment of Islamophobes.
Women are three times more likely than men to experience Islamophobia in the Canadian population, according the 2013 report “Understanding Islamophobia: An international perspective”.
This gap is also seen in the province of Ontario, where the report says that one in three Muslims have experienced Islamophobia at some point in their lives.
And despite being labelled as “a minority religion”, Islamophobia does not appear to be a thing of the past.
A study by the Ontario Council of Muslim Women found that between 2000 and 2011, Islamophobic attacks on Muslims increased by 40 per cent in the Ontario Muslim community.
That’s an increase of nearly 6,000 people, or roughly one Muslim every 10 minutes.
The report notes that the phenomenon has become more common since the 2015 federal election, with the number of incidents increasing by more than 40 per one hundred thousand people.
There’s also a gender gap: The report found that the rate of Islamophobic incidents in the Toronto area jumped by more the same time period, from 9 per one thousand people in 2000 to 22 per one million in 2015.
“We are experiencing a significant increase in Islamophobia,” said Aliya, a 24-year-old Muslim from Toronto.
“For me personally, it is very important to understand that the way we talk about Islamophobia, it’s not an issue of Islam, it really is a matter of patriarchy and misogyny.
Women’s voices are not being heard, they’re not being supported, and the way that we are speaking about this is misogynistic and racist.”
Aliya is a student at a local college.
She said she was not able to attend the upcoming mosque event because of the “hate” she had experienced from a man at a nearby mosque.
“I have experienced a lot of hate.
It’s not a joke,” she told Al Jazeera.
“When I come to mosque, I don’t see anyone like that, I have no interaction with them.”
She said there was no way to know how many Muslim men she encountered had been involved with terrorism, but said that she has received several death threats.
“There is nothing to be proud of.
It is not the way to deal with the issues that we face in the community,” she added.
“People have to understand it is a minority religion.
And people are still afraid.”
In the wake of the attacks, there have been a number of calls for the federal government to increase funding for mental health services.
In 2015, the federal Liberals promised to increase the number and type of mental health beds available in Canada, and in 2016, the government announced it would triple the number to 50,000 by 2021.
“This is a critical moment for Canadians who face these kinds of challenges, and we must address it,” the prime minister, Justin Trudeau , said at the time