October 24, 2014 6:29 pm

Muslim candidate says volunteers faced with racism on campaign trail


TORONTO – It’s Friday morning, a couple of hours before afternoon prayers.

Ward 2 Council Candidate Munira Abukar and her campaign team smile and laugh as they work inside their Martin Grove and Bethridge Road-area office; optimistic about her chances in the race.

But what happened Thursday just a few blocks away from the campaign office put a slight damper on things and caused the candidate to recall her street team for the night.

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“For me it was really a priority to make sure that they were inside and they were safe and well-kept,” says Abukar.

Volunteers say they were out planting signs at about 9:00 pm Thursday when two of them allege they were verbally and physically assaulted by a passing driver in a Purolator truck.

“While I was putting up the signs I heard a guy beep behind me and he threw a Tim Horton’s cup,” explains volunteer Abdir Ahman Hashi, who says he first thought the man was just littering.  “When I turned around he started honking and called me a terrorist and stuff.”

Abukar’s sister, Iman, said the man yelled “‘f-ing terrorist.'”

The volunteers say they were too shocked and surprised to take down the license place number.

READ MORE: Last-minute guide to voting in the Toronto election

There are two Purolator properties near Vulcan Street where the incident is alleged to have occurred.  It is unknown whether the person who the group says hurled the insult at them works at either building.

In a statement issued to Global News Friday morning, Purolator says:

“As a company that highly values multiculturalism and respect, we are deeply troubled about this report and are taking this matter seriously. Our President and CEO has reached out to Ms. Abukar and our internal investigation, which was launched immediately, is ongoing at this time.”

Abukar says she got a sense from their discussion that company president Patrick Nangle was genuinely upset and apologetic.

“He was really sorry that the volunteers had to go through the experience and he said he doesn’t tolerate it.”

She has no doubt the murders of Canadian soldiers by radicals in Quebec and Ottawa this week contributed to Thursday night’s incident, but says she feels their loss just as deeply. Her brother Mohamed is a Canadian soldier based in Edmonton.

“(For) a military family like us it’s not easy to watch a young man being killed for no reason,” she says after displaying a picture of Mohamed on her phone.

It’s not the first time Abukar’s campaign says it has dealt with this.  In the last two weeks they’ve found two of their signs defaced with racist words and imagery with  messages like “go back home.” Another sign had a red swastika scrawled across Abukar’s face.

As of publishing Friday, Purolator had no update to provide on its investigation.

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