15:23 - January 31, 2022
News ID: 3477622
TEHRAN (IQNA) – The Muslim community in Edmonton is concerned about Islamophobic attacks in the region.


An alleged hate attack on a woman outside an Edmonton mosque has again sent shivers through the city’s Muslim communities and renewed discussion about how to respond to the rash of violence.

On Jan. 1, police arrested a 34-year-old man who allegedly attacked a Somali woman and her children as they waited in their car outside northeast Edmonton’s Al Ameen mosque, where the children were attending a Qur’an class.

The National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM), which first publicized the incident on Jan. 25, said the man allegedly punched and spat on the vehicle while uttering Islamophobic threats, then left the mosque and returned with a shovel. Edmonton police said there is evidence the man’s actions were motivated by hatred.

The accused — who according to court documents lives a block away from the mosque — has been charged with mischief and uttering threats and is scheduled to appear in court Monday

Habiba Mohamud, a member of the Somali community, met with the woman and her family Friday. She said all four of the woman’s daughters — aged four to 12 — were present at the time of the incident.

“They’re children, and they might be temporarily forgetting, but this is something they’re going to internalize for life and live with forever,” said Mohamud, a former federal candidate in Edmonton Griesbach. “It’s sad. What I heard is just so disturbing.”

Black, Muslim women most affected

Since Dec. 8, 2020, when a man was charged with assaulting a Muslim mother and daughter outside Southgate Centre, Edmonton area police have responded to at least nine allegedly hate-motivated attacks , the majority against Muslim women who wear hijabs or other forms of head covering.

Most of the assaults occurred in public spaces, including transit stations and parking lots. The Jan. 1 incident is the first alleged attack to occur at a mosque.

During a roundtable discussion with Postmedia on Saturday, leaders in Edmonton’s Somali community expressed frustration with a perceived lack of urgency around the issue on the part of politicians and the public.

“Why is this OK for our children, our sisters, to be attacked on the street?” asked Mana Ali, a social worker. “The community is silent. I know Edmontonians are great people, they’re caring, they stand up together. But on this issue, why are they silent?”

The leaders also expressed concerns about the police response to the Jan. 1 case — reportedly 30 minutes after the woman phoned 911 — and with the delayed release of information to the public.

They urged policy makers to understand the attacks not strictly as incidents of Islamophobia, but of anti-Black violence. Sharif Haji, executive director of the Edmonton Africa Centre, said he knows of around 16 attacks on Muslim women since December 2020, some of which were not reported to police or did not result in charges.

Of those, he said around a dozen involved Black women, mostly from the Somali community. The prevalence of Black women among victims of alleged Islamophobia “is not something we have seen in other jurisdictions,” he said.

“It’s not normal, in terms of how these attacks are rolling out,” added Dunia Nur, president of the African-Canadian Civic Engagement Council, which provides victim services including court escorts. “The targeted demographic population are Black Muslim women. Typically they’re visible Muslim women. Age is not a component, and whether they’re with children or not is not a component.”

 “This is serious, and if our government does not take this seriously, very soon somebody is going to die.”

Potential solutions

Of the hate-motivated attacks that have come to police attention since December 2020, eight have resulted in charges. None of the six defendants has been charged with a hate crime. Rather, police have described each attack as “hate motivated,” which, if proven, can result in longer sentences under Section 718.2 of the Criminal Code.

Three defendants have gone through the court system. All three were homeless and of Indigenous heritage — which has led some to call for the problem to be treated in part of a housing, addictions and mental health issue . Courts concluded hate was a factor in just one of the cases — that of Shane Edward Tremblay , who was convicted of attacking three Muslim women on two separate occasions while in a drug-induced psychosis.

Jibril Ibrahim, president of the Somali Canadian Cultural Society of Edmonton, said the attacks are a sad chapter for a community that fled war, and later dealt with a rash of homicides among young Somali men.

He said solutions must come from policy makers and the community.

On the first score, he encouraged police to create specialized units to respond to reports of hate-motivated violence, rather than sending overworked patrol officers.

On the latter, he said the community is exploring a 1-800 number to connect people affected by hate-motivated violence with services. Ibrahim also discussed creating a local database of hate-motivated incidents.

One group created in response to the attacks, Sisters’ Dialogue, is organizing a safe walk service with the Federation of Edmonton Community Leagues. Aisha Ali, a director with the group, said the program is scheduled to launch this spring and will give women who feel besieged the chance to walk freely in their communities.

The group also offers care packages for women who have been victimized by anti-Muslim hate, as well as free sessions with therapists used to working with Muslim women.

For Ali, the incident at Al Ameen is particularly troubling.

“I’m also a Black Muslim sister, and I have a child, and it makes you fear for your safety,” she said. “It could have been anyone who looks like her.”


Source: Edmonton Journal

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