Another Black woman wearing a hijab was confronted and threatened at an Edmonton transit station on Feb. 17.
This is the fifth time Edmonton police have been called to investigate similar attacks against Black women wearing hijabs in three months.
In a statement, the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) said it “is deeply concerned about an attack that took place in Edmonton at the Century Park Transit Station on Feb. 17, 2021, against a Black Muslim woman wearing a hijab.”
The group said the woman was waiting at the station when a man approached her, flailing his arms, gestured with his fist, swore at her and allegedly threatened to physically assault and kill her.
According to the NCCM, the woman said she “felt helpless and afraid for my life.”
She also reported there was no security around nor did anyone step in to help. After the event, she was assisted by an ETS bus driver and peace officers, the NCCM said. She also said, after contacting the police station, she “was not given the support” that she needed. She eventually reached out to Edmonton city council, the statement reads.
Through the NCCM statement, the woman said “racism and Islamaphobia cannot be cast aside.” She also called for “swift action and clear denunciation from EPS and the mayor.”
In early December, two Somali women wearing hijabs were attacked outside a south Edmonton shopping centre in what police said was a “hate-motivated incident.”
A man punched their car window, then both women were pushed to the ground, and one was assaulted, EPS said.
Later in December, a 23-year-old Black woman wearing a hijab entered the southeast doors of the Southgate LRT station when she was approached by a woman she didn’t know. Without being provoked, police said the suspect allegedly tried to hit the woman in the head with a shopping bag while yelling “racially-motivated obscenities at her.”
On Feb. 3, two separate “hate-motivated” events occurred.
A woman wearing a hijab was waiting inside the University of Alberta transit centre and was approached by a man she didn’t know. Police said he made racial comments and became more aggressive toward the 19-year-old, “posturing as though he was about to assault her.”
Then, a woman wearing a burka was walking on the sidewalk in the area of 100 Street and 82 Avenue when she was approached by an unknown man who stopped her, yelled and swore at her, then pushed her to the ground.
“It is clear that more needs to happen,” said Sameha Omer, director of legal affairs for the NCCM.
“We need to see EPS take concrete action to address the recent trend of hate-motivated incidents, racism and Islamophobia, particularly against Black Muslim women, through a clear action plan.
“This may necessitate a review of internal policies and procedures that deal with the reporting of such incidents and intake by police officers.”
In a statement, the EPS said it is aware of the incident and the hate crimes and extremism unit has met with the woman to “confirm details and offer her our support.”
The incident is still under investigation, police said.
The EPS is also reviewing her initial interaction with police “to ensure our customer service expectations were met.”
“EPS wants to remind the public to be vigilant, and report any suspicious activity to police,” the statement continued. “If you see person(s) at risk, contact police immediately. If you can safely render aide to the victim, please do so and stay with the victim until police arrive.”
Mayor Don Iveson said the woman who was threatened at the Century Park station called his office on Friday. He called her back “to express my empathy, deep concern and anger that this had happened to her in our community.
“No Edmontonian should feel that their safety is at risk while taking transit, and particularly based on identity or appearance,” the mayor said in a statement Wednesday.
“Of course this incident is particularly concerning given other recent assaults targeting black Muslim women wearing hijabs.”
Iveson said he connected the woman with the NCCM and urged her to report the incident to police as a hate crime.
“I’ve consistently denounced racism and Islamophobia and been clear that racism, misogyny and Islamophobia are unacceptable in Edmonton and I again unequivocally condemn these forms of hatred.
“These behaviours are un-Edmontonian, though clearly there are individuals here who have not gotten the message.
“Muslim women deserve to feel safe in our city – and I’m deeply troubled that these incidents have engendered fear,” he said.
The mayor’s office continues to work with the NCCM and has been in touch with ETS officials, “who assure me that this incident is being taken very seriously and that all steps were followed to support the victim in this case.
“ETS has zero tolerance for harassment and discrimination and is grateful for the victim’s report to ensure incidents are documented and properly responded to,” Iveson said.
On Friday, the prime minister addressed a rise in crimes against racialized Canadians.
Justin Trudeau said Vancouver police released data showing anti-Asian crimes rose by more than 700 per cent in 2020.
“Too many other cities have also reported significant increases of these hateful crimes, including here in Ottawa,” he said.
“And in Edmonton, there’s been a recent series of appalling attacks targeting Black, racialized and Muslim women.
“To the victims, we stand with you,” Trudeau said.
“There is no place for this in Canada. These acts are unacceptable. They have to stop.”
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