TORONTO, ON: Over the long weekend, while Canadian families from across the country tuned into NHL playoffs, Arab-Muslim-Canadian former Maple Leaf’s star and 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 at a game on Saturday night that left another player out for the rest of the series.
The torrent of hatred came following Kadri’s team, the Colorado Avalanche, sinking the St. Louis Blues 6-3 on Monday night. The win gave the Avs a 3-1 lead in the Western Conference series.
Kadri – of Lebanese descent – collided with Blues goaltender Jordan Binnington in Game 3. Binnington was scratched for the rest of the series with a lower-body injury.
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’s wife Ashley too took to social media and shared some of the sickening racist messages targeting the forward and his family. “Great game tonight, very proud of Nazem. But I want to shine light on what the last 48 hours has looked like for us as a family.”
It is Kadri’s Muslim faith that was targeted. She called the hateful missives “just a small example”.
“This behavior doesn’t belong in sports, or anywhere. If you are not condemning racism, then you are tolerating it,” she wrote. “Praying for the world to be a better place with more love and less hate.”
Kadri himself had thoughtful comments on this in a post-game interview on TNT. “Unfortunately, I’ve been dealing with that for a long time. It’s sad to say, but it’s just the fact of the matter. I’m just putting it in the rear-view mirror. It’s a big deal, but I try to act like it’s not and just keep moving forward. That’s what I do. And I know that, some of the messages I got, doesn’t reflect every single fan in St. Louis, but for those that hate, that was for them.”
The Canadian Arab Institute (CAI) and the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) unreservedly condemn the anti-Arab racism and Islamophobia targeting Kadri and his family. CAI and NCCM call 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.
“Kadri is not alone in his fight against racism. Time and time again, we see racialized players experiencing double the consequences and hate when incidents in the game happen,” NCCM and CAI said in a joint statement.
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.