A 20-year-old Canadian man has been charged with the “premeditated” murder of four members of a Muslim family in London, Ontario, on June 6, after deliberately ramming into them with his pick-up truck. The tragic murder marks the worst Islamophobic terrorist attack in the country since six worshippers were gunned down in a Quebec City mosque in 2017.

“It is believed that these victims were targeted because they were Muslim,” Detective Superintendent Paul Waight told a news conference the day after the family was killed.

While little more about the alleged terrorist is known at this stage, there’s almost no reason to doubt we will soon learn he had consumed and internalized a steady diet of anti-Muslim hate. This vitriol continues to be offered up like a restaurant smorgasbord on social media, in the mainstream media, and general political discourse.

Negative stereotypes, hateful tropes, and conspiracy theories that posit Muslims to not only be a security threat but also a civilizational menace to the social fabric are pumped ceaselessly into the ether by film producers, talk show hosts, social media influencers, politicians, and an array of nefarious actors. Adding to these extreme biases, nation states have weaponized “war on terror” discourse against restive Muslim populations.

Islamophobia anti-Semitism Canada

Right to left: Salman Afzaal, 46; his 74-year-old mother, Talat Afzaal; his wife, Madiha Salman, 44; and their 15-year-old daughter Yumna Afzaal were killed after a black truck slammed into them as they took an evening walk. The youngest son, first left, Fayez, 9, survived and remained in the hospital in serious condition.

[The Modern History of Islamophobia Starts in Israel and Ends in France]

[Far-Right Terror Threatens Muslim Minorities Everywhere]

[Social Media Platforms Are Dangerous Terrain for Muslims]

No other religious minority is subjected to this level of hatred away from the shadowy corners of the Internet.

The undeniable reality is this: the things said about Muslims in the public domain are the same that were said openly about the Jewish people until the latter half of the previous century. But, whereas anti-Semitism has become a career or reputational killer in more recent times, the purveyors of Islamophobia do so without fear of consequence.

Anti-Muslim bigotry has escaped the attention and outrage of so-called “cancel culture.”

Anti-Muslim bigotry has escaped the attention and outrage of so-called “cancel culture.”

This month’s deadly attack on a Muslim family in Canada brings new urgency for the media and government to treat Islamophobia with the same seriousness it rightly treats anti-Semitism. Currently, the difference in the way both pernicious forms of racism are dealt with in popular discourse could not be starker.

For instance, when Democratic Party Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, the daughter of Somali Muslim migrants, made an innocuous reference to the lyrics of a Puff Daddy song, “It’s all about the Benjamins, Baby,” when describing the oversized influence the Israel Lobby has over US foreign policy, she was accused of pushing an anti-Semitic trope and censored by the leadership of her party. Yet, after Donald Trump said, “Islam hates us,” while calling for a “total and complete ban” on Muslim migrants, he was elected President of the United States.

We saw a similar dynamic play out during the 2019 General Election in the United Kingdom, where manufactured charges of anti-Semitism were leveled against Labor Party leader Jeremy Corbyn for his criticisms of Israeli government policy. The baseless allegations were given oxygen by a mainstream press that’s ever-vigilant against anti-Jewish hate. But when Boris Johnson compared Muslim women to “letterboxes,” among other Islamophobic tropes, he escaped the scrutiny and wrath of both the media and voters.

The contrast between the way Muslims and Jews are portrayed in film and television reflects this bias, with the latter commonly framed as victims of persecution and the former as perpetrators of terrorism. More often than not, Muslim characters are presented as “bombers, belly dancers and [oil] billionaires,” which Jack Shaheen, author of “Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies a People,” describes as the “Three B Syndrome.”

On television talk shows, Islamophobia is far more acute. Bill Maher, host of HBO’s “Real Time,” still enjoys high ratings and enormous success, despite regularly conflating Islam with terrorism and holding all Muslims accountable for the actions of ISIS or al- Qaeda. Maher often does this under the guise of defending Israel’s military occupation of the Palestinian Territories.

When Maher and any number of the right-wing columnists and pundits on Fox News claim Muslims or Islam to be a threat to “Western values” or national security, they fail the basic test that asks, “Does what I’m saying now make me sound like a Nazi?”

In other words, if replacing the word “Muslim” with “Jew” in whatever sentence you’re saying about Muslims makes you sound like a Nazi, then you should stop, unless you want to be an actual Nazi. Were one to apply this rule-of-thumb to the North American media landscape, then one would find a huge number of Nazis—but of the anti-Muslim kind.

A study of the coverage Muslims and Islam attract on major North American television networks concluded, ‘‘There are virtually no positive issues for Muslims within and outside of the US in the view of US television news,” while “references to Islamic religious life were critical as well.”

Muslims fare even worse on social media, with Facebook accused of fermenting genocide and pogroms against Muslims in Myanmar, Sri Lanka, and India.

It goes without saying that Muslims and Islam have fared even worse on social media, with Facebook accused of fermenting genocide and pogroms against Muslims in Myanmar, Sri Lanka, and India. More recently, Muslim civil rights groups have sued the company for failing to remove anti-Muslim content from its site.

The convergence of these realities is having a devastating effect on Muslim communities throughout North America. Canada has reported a 253 percent increase in hate crimes against Muslims during the past decade, and the US noted a similar spike during the Trump presidency.

The recent murder of four members of a single Muslim family in Ontario reads as yet another tragic reminder of how Islamophobic animus in the media and online produces deadly attacks against Muslims on the streets.

Hate violence is the predictable by-product of hate speech, which is why anti-Semitism is universally denounced in the public domain for the pernicious and virulent form of racism that it is. This was the painful lesson learned over the previous century.

It’s high time the same social stigmatization be applied to those who traffic in Islamophobia.