As an activist in Toronto committed to social justice, and as a first-generation immigrant with Muslim heritage, I am deeply troubled by the rise of Islamophobia in the West.

Anti-Muslim sentiment surged after 9/11 and the War on Terror. It combined with white supremacist thought to take on the particular virulent form of Islamophobia that exists today — one that is centred on the cultural, religious, and racial inferiority of Muslims.

Whether it is peddled during a municipal election, courted by a party leader or blatantly propagated by a president, Islamophobic thought has become normalized and mainstream. White supremacy has managed to jettison the vestiges of past affiliations — such as colonialism, imperialism, and 20th-century fascism — to take on a more socially accepted form at the expense of Muslims.

We should not need a massacre to denounce Islamophobia in all its forms.

One form presents itself as anti-immigrant sentiment or concern about the Muslim “other” not integrating properly, “taking over,” or posing a threat to existing traditions. Another form takes shape in problematic foreign policy, geopolitical strategies and immigration policy, such as the Muslim ban in the United States.

We should also think more critically about the ways technology and social media are interfacing with society instead of mindlessly cheering on innovation.

Viewing the terrorist attacks in Christchurch, New Zealand, from this perspective, these horrible and tragic acts of violence can be understood as the inevitable outcome of rising Islamophobia. The widespread dehumanization and vilification of Muslims — of immigrants, of brown and black communities, of women with hijabs — for political gain is setting the stage for widespread hatred and violence.

Political and social leaders, intellectuals and mainstream media should clearly and consistently condemn Islamophobia and dismantle it at every opportunity.

Stop propagating and repeating words of hate. Stop invoking racist tropes to explain current affairs. Stop using essentialist language to describe Muslims. Stop using Muslims as scapegoats for social and economic problems.

We also need stronger gun control legislation. It is far too easy to access an automated assault rifle, and I am not sure why anyone would need one. No one benefits from the sale of these weapons, except weapons manufacturers. The Coalition for Gun Control is actively petitioning for a national handgun and military assault weapon ban in Canada.

We should also think more critically about the ways technology and social media are interfacing with society instead of mindlessly cheering on innovation. Technology devoid of ethics is very dangerous, as history clearly demonstrates.

Although Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook are taking active measures to protect women and racialized voices online, more must be done to shut out voices of hate — and more can be done to ensure the safety of our communities by the platforms that make billions off our participation.

Muslims are not a monolithic entity; we are as diverse as any other group. When you remove the complexities of culture and religion and essentialize us into one ugly caricature, you are complicit.

It is important that we continue working towards reconciliation, social change, gender equity, and racial justice.

When we have justice and equity — including a fairer distribution of wealth in society and freedom from poverty and violence — there will be less inclination to support, or need, ideologies rooted in hate.

Only in solidarity with one another can we resist hate in all its forms.