‘Women will bear the brunt of the racism’: Edmonton Muslim community feeling backlash after Saturday attack

Human rights advocate says Muslim women are being attacked after Edmonton incident.

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An Edmonton human rights advocate says Muslim women are being attacked following a spree of violence linked to a Somali man on the weekend.

Mahamad Accord, with the Edmonton Coalition for Human Rights, said he heard from one Muslim woman who was hospitalized Monday after she had a bottle smashed on her head while riding the LRT.

He said he heard from two more women by Monday afternoon who had men yell hateful things at them in public.

“Women will bear the brunt of the racism, I guarantee you, because they display the hijab,” Accord said.

Nuurto Abdirahman said she was driving near Norquest College Monday morning when a man stopped his car to shout at her, calling her a “bitch” and a “terrorist” and saying, “You should go back to your own country.”

“I didn’t do anything, and I drove,” she said.

A man who police have identified as Somali refugee claimant Abdulahi Hasan Sharif, 30, drove his car into a police officer and ran over several pedestrians with a U-Haul truck on Saturday night.

Police said the man had a flag in his car representing the terrorist group Daesh.

While hundreds attended a peace rally and vigil Sunday organized by Edmonton’s Muslim community, the attack stirred up some anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim sentiment on social media.

Accord gave his condolences to the victims of the attack, but also said he is concerned that the attacks against Muslim women Monday are just “the tip of the iceberg.”

“When we are victims, we don’t have that sympathy. But when we become a suspect, this is what we expect,” he said. “That’s the essence of the issue. Even though we have nothing to do with (the Saturday attack).”

The Ogaden Somali Community of Alberta Residents (OSCAR) hosted 20 organizations Monday morning for a discussion on how to respond to hatred.

Its Summit Safety Committee meeting included representatives of the city, police, REACH Edmonton and several Somali and Indigenous groups.

The group’s executive director Ahmed Abdulkadir said the focus was keeping Muslims, Somali-Canadians, refugees and other newcomers safe from the backlash they have seen from a minority of Edmontonians.

“How to handle it, what they need to do, where they need to go, and how to report it, is some of the things we have been discussing,” he said.

Abdulkadir said he has seen many hateful messages on social media since the Saturday attack.

He called the attack “unacceptable and inhumane,” adding that Edmonton’s Somali and Muslim communities are concerned and saddened, and praying for a fast recovery for the victims.

OSCAR will meet biweekly and continue monitoring hate activity, and the group is also organizing a “unity” feast to take place shortly after Thanksgiving.

“Whoever did this thing, the purpose was to divide the community,” Abdulkadir said.

“But this will not divide us. It will unite us and it will make us stronger.”

Jibril Ibrahim, President of the Somali Canadian Cultural Society Of Edmonton, said the Somali community is “shocked” and condemns the attack “in the strongest terms.”

He said he was encouraged by the solidarity shown by citizens and politicians at Sunday’s vigil, but also concerned about a potential backlash against recent refugees.

“We just want to make sure that this incident doesn’t cause some minorities within our community to hate those people,” Ibrahim said.

thestar.com

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