Immigrant Threatened Over License Plates Beginning With “1S1S”

Immigrant threatened because of license plates starting with “1S1S”

Nouman felt 'helpless' after being targeted because of his license plates .

A 26-year-old Ontarian man who fled Afghanistan with his family to settle in Canada has faced death threats because his license plates #x27;registration bore a series of characters resembling the acronym for the Islamic State armed group in English, “ISIS”.

Nouman, who arrived in the country with his mother and brother just over 10 years ago, hoped that Canada would bring him the security and peace of mind expected after leaving a country that was then under the threat of militant takeover.

He had no idea that license plates obtained last year would put him in danger. CBC-Radio-Canada chose to use only his first name for security reasons.

He says that when he bought his first motorcycle from a dealership last summer he paid no attention to the fact that the plates bore the character series 1S1S6.

But after multiple death threats and accusations that he was a supporter of the terrorist group, Nouman asked the provincial service provider Service Ontario to change his plates.

However, instead of issuing new ones, he says that his request was dismissed out of hand and thus exposed to new threats.

< p class="e-p">Not only was my life threatened at that time, but a government employee also laughed at me for the same, he said.

It puts you in a situation of total helplessness.

This isn't the first time the province has come under scrutiny for failing to clear potentially offensive plaques.

In 2018 and 2019, CBC Toronto reported that plaques appeared to fly under the radar despite having explicit meanings in a variety of languages, including Punjabi, Hindi and Urdu.

This particular license plate should have raised questions given that ISIS (Daesh, in French) is considered by Canada to be a terrorist group and has made headlines for the atrocities it has committed. , says a sociology professor.

Momin Rahman, a Trent University professor who studies racism and Islamophobia, says the plaques Nouman reported would have clearly stigmatizing him and the province should have known.

Just two months after buying his motorcycle, Nouman claims someone accosted him outside Metropolitan University of Toronto, asking him what his license plate was. supposed to mean and shouting insults at him. Nouman only saw an isolated incident there. Winter was approaching and he would soon be putting his motorcycle away.

But last spring the threats started again. In May, he said, three men shoved him outside the school, threatened him and said: We know you are a [Daesh] supporter.

After that, Nouman says he complained to the police and went to a Service Ontario center in Etobicoke to ask for the plates to be replaced. He says the attendant ignored his concerns and said the change would cost him $59.

The principal refused, saying the plates weren't #x27;should never have been put into circulation given its resemblance to the English abbreviation ISIS.

After all, he says, the province bans license plates deemed offensive for a host of reasons, including those with words of a sexual, vulgar, abusive, derogatory, referencing religion, promoting violence, containing political views or expressing hatred against a person or group.

Yes, I could pay that amount to avoid this stuff, but at the same time, Service Ontario has a responsibility to provide me with plates that won't put my life at risk, right? he said.

On June 10, Nouman says he was accosted again by another group of men outside the convenience store where he worked . This time, he decided to go see an official the very next day to plead his case. He almost didn't make it.

While driving to a Service Ontario office in Mississauga, Nouman says a man driving a gray or silver car nearly ran him off the road on Dundas Street. Fortunately, he swerved into an empty lane just in time and caught up with the car at a red light where he could jot down his license plate.

I was lucky in so many ways, because the left lane was clear, because I was able to see that person in time, react in time, otherwise I probably wouldn't have been there to tell you that story, he said.

A spokesperson for the Ontario Ministry of Government and Consumer Services presented his apologies to Nouman for his experience, adding that his plates were eventually replaced at no charge.

We apologize to this person for not meeting our service standard and are working to ensure that this situation does not happen again, the statement said.

The department says the plate review aims to be as comprehensive and detailed as possible to ensure x27;sure that they are not offensive, but since this is a manual process, sometimes a particular combination era of letters and numbers be forgotten.

The department also says its officials undergo mandatory training to foster cultural sensitivity.

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