Why do Muslim women “live in fear” in this Canadian city? | Islamophobia News

Canada- When it happened, Dunia Nur was buying paint outside. A community organizer in Edmonton, Alberta was speaking Somali with her aunt on the phone when a man in the store aggressively told her to “speak English.” When she tried to get out of the predicament, he blocked her way.

“He was offended by the fact that I spoke my language,” Noor, chairman and co-founder of the Somali-Canadian and African-Canadian Citizen Participation Committee, told Al Jazeera. “I tried to move, and then he stopped me.”

Although the recent incident has not escalated further, Nur said it made her feel unsafe, especially shortly after a Muslim family in London, Ontario was knocked down by a driver in a fatal attack. The police said it was Stimulated by anti-Muslim hatred.

Since the end of last year, a series of verbal and physical attacks against predominantly black Muslim women have taken place in Edmonton and surrounding areas-a reality that Noor said has made many community members afraid to leave their homes.

In late June, two Muslim women wearing hijab sisters were attacked. A man with a knife Who threw racial slander at them on a small road outside the city.In other cases, Muslim women were Knocked to the ground Go for a walk or Threat While waiting for public transportation.

The city stated that Edmonton police have received reports of five incidents involving black women wearing hijabs since December 8, 2020, and the police’s hate crimes department has arrested a suspect in each case. Charge against it.

But advocates in the Muslim community say incidents are often unreported. “We held a town hall meeting and many women stood up and said that they had been attacked by a knife before and told to go home. They had experienced a lot of gender-based violence and hate-motivated crimes.-just no report,” Noor said.

“Muslim black women are attacked, they are attacked for anti-black racism, they are attacked for Islamophobia[c] Rhetoric, they are attacked because they are women… I think we are at a moment where we are not sure what will happen when we go out. “

City countermeasures

According to a municipal family, Edmonton is the capital of the province of Alberta in western Canada, with just over 972,000 residents in 2019. Polls.

In an email to Al Jazeera, Mayor Don Iveson’s office stated that some Edmontonians “have not received the information that our city does not welcome racism and partial execution” .

“This has systemic and long-term influencing factors, and some people have specific prejudices in their hearts and minds. [Edmontonians] Who should know better-too many people have obtained permission in various ways and expressed their hatred in this community. I, like most Edmontonians, hope it stops. Now,” the statement said.

Community organizer Dunia Nur said that many Muslim women in Edmonton were afraid to leave their homes during a series of attacks. [Courtesy Dunia Nur]

Ivesson said that Edmonton City Council supports calls to strengthen Canada’s hate laws and provides financial assistance to support initiatives to address hatred and violence, including A working group provides advice on how to make the community feel safe.

“The city government, the Edmonton Police Department and the Edmonton Police Commission have responded by developing a work plan that outlines 70 different actions to address the issues identified. A more comprehensive strategy will be launched in early 2022 ,” the statement said.

The City Council also passed a motion earlier this month instructing Edmonton to further engage with black, aboriginal and other communities of color to address harassment and violence.

The city stated that the motion also ordered the mayor to write to the federal government “requesting a review of any racial, gender, or cultural gap or prejudice and possible updating of the current definition of hate crime.”

“Scared” women

But despite these measures, activist Vati Rahmat told Al Jazeera that Edmonton “Muslim women are in fear.”

“Some of my friends have discussed whether they should change the way they wear the headscarf, or take off the headscarf, or go out with friends, or not go out,” said Rahmat, who founded the Women Leadership Initiative of the Muslim Sisters Dialogue. Responding to attacks. The organization is currently launching a safe walking service to provide companionship to Muslim women who feel it is not safe to go out.

As advocates say, more and more people across Canada are calling for the federal government to implement an action plan to curb Islamophobia, so Edmonton needs more support Systemic racism and far-right paranoia Increase the risk of violence.

For many people, June attack In London, Ontario – and Fatal shootings in 2017 Mosque in Quebec City and Fatal stabbing Last year, outside a mosque in Toronto’s West End-demonstrated the lethality of this problem.

In June, a fatal attack occurred in London, Ontario, killing four members of a Muslim family. Members and supporters of the Muslim community gathered for a vigil. [File: Ian Willms/Getty Images via AFP]

“I think it’s wrong for women not to be afraid of going out,” Rahmat said.

Some Muslim advocacy groups, including the National Council of Muslims in Canada (NCCM), have also called for strengthening street harassment laws because most recent attacks on Muslim women in Alberta have occurred in public.

Fatema Abdalla, NCCM’s communications coordinator, said that in the past six months, there have been at least 15 attacks on Muslim women in Edmonton and Calgary.

“These women are either walking daily, or in the park or Light Rail [light-rail transit] station Or some form of transit point,” Abdullah told Al Jazeera, adding that NCCM receives calls about abuse directed at members of the national Muslim community almost every week.

She said: “We need to prevent such incidents from happening so that they no longer cause such devastating attacks as we saw in London, Ontario.”

Community action

At the same time, leaders of the Muslim community are taking steps to try to stop the violence on their own. Noor al-Henedy is the communications director of Al Rashid Mosque in Edmonton, which organized self-defense courses for Muslim women this year.

Although the community believes it is necessary to provide women with specific tools for getting out of their predicament-these courses have aroused great interest-but al-Henedy said they also reflect a disturbing reality.

“To tell you the truth, this is very sad and disappointing. I think it makes some people a little angry because we have to do this and we have to take these measures,” al-Henedy said in an interview with Al Jazeera. March.

“We worry about the next generation; we worry about our daughter,” she added. “When a 15-year-old child comes over and tells you that she is too afraid to cross the road and walk from school to home, it is very worrying. Heartbreaking.”

Nur of the African-Canadian Citizens Participation Committee said the organization is also committed to providing psychological support and providing information to Muslim women to let them know what to do if they are attacked, including how and to whom to report violence.

She called on the United Nations and other international organizations to push Canada to take action to urgently respond to the situation in Edmonton.

“We need international attention and solidarity because we cannot do this alone, and our public officials have failed us. We need international help and intervention,” Noor said. “We are not good. We really can’t.”

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