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Muslim woman alleges verbal assault on Montreal street: ‘It was pretty scary’

Warning: This story contains details and language some readers may find disturbing. Discretion is advised. A woman from Ahuntsic was allegedly verbally assaulted by a man on the street, as she walked home with her four-year-old daughter.

Montreal police are investigating an incident of an alleged verbal assault against a Muslim woman.

The incident happened on Tuesday outside a daycare on St. Laurent Blvd. in Ahuntsic.

The woman doesn’t want her identity revealed for fear of reprisals. Calling herself Anais, she said she was walking on the street with her three-year-old daughter, speaking in Arabic to her.

Suddenly, a man walked up to her and started raising his arms and screaming at her.

“He was asking me why I was speaking that language,” she said. “He told me I should go back to where I belong.”

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Anais said she was worried, especially for her daughter who was crying. A friend also leaving the daycare noticed the aggressive nature of the man and walked over to help.

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“It was pretty scary, he was shouting very loudly,” Sarah, also not her real name, said.  “He was throwing his hands in the air, putting his chest on our faces.”

Sarah then took out her cell phone and started filming. The short video captures a man yelling “slut” to Anais. He then bends down and says to her daughter, “Ask your mother if I can have sex with her.”

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He then again calls her a slut.

The incident left Anais and her daughter terrified and distraught.

“My daughter could not stop crying, she was so scared of him,” she says. “I hope it’s something she can get over.”

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Neither women were wearing traditional Muslim dress.

“We had no religious signs. Clearly he associated the language with religion,” Sarah said. “We could be Christians, we could be not even believing in anything, and that is why I call it racism, because we had no signs that show where we come from or our ethnicity.”

Sarah posted the video to social media.  It’s been viewed on Facebook several hundred thousand times.

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“I was feeling powerless, I think this is the worst feeling especially when you see the safety of a three-year-old girl in danger,” she said.

Anais lodged a complaint with Montreal police, who are investigating.

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Muslim groups say it’s just another sign of a growing number of racially-motivated outbursts in Quebec.

“I have witnessed a lot of cases of people who were assaulted on the street,” said Sarah Abou-Bakr of the National Council of Canadian Muslims. “I have been with so many women to go to the police to report incidents.”

Many blame the province’s controversial Bill 21 for fostering a climate of hate and discrimination in Quebec.

“I think that it gave them the opportunity to externalize these thoughts, even though they should not be welcomed,” Sarah said.

As for Anais, she admits she’s frightened, especially for her daughter.

But what really scares her, she says, is the possibility it could happen again.