The chair of a group representing Somali Canadians in Edmonton says there has been another local attack on a woman who was wearing a hijab.
Jibril Ibrahim alleges the Somali-Canadian woman was walking by herself in northeast Edmonton on Friday evening when an unknown man grabbed her by her neck and pushed her down to the sidewalk before fleeing the scene.
He says her face was bloodied, some of her teeth are loose and she spent Friday night in hospital.
Police said in an email they are investigating a report of a Black woman in her 50s who was walking in the area at around 9 p.m. when she was assaulted by an unknown suspect.
They said she received treatment for non-life-threatening injuries at a local medical centre and then reported the incident to police.
Ibrahim says the alleged attack, the latest in a spate of similar incidents, has left the woman badly shaken.
“She’s traumatized,” Ibrahim said in a phone interview after visiting with the woman on Sunday, noting she’s afraid now to leave her home alone.
He said she wasn’t up to being interviewed on Sunday, and was frightened to appear on camera.
Tia Abdillahi is a Muslim woman who lives in Edmonton. She learned of the most recent attack over the weekend and said she has been living in fear after hearing of recent attacks in Edmonton, as well as the attack in London, Ont., last weekend that left four members of a Muslim family dead and one seriously injured.
“I was never anyone who ever felt any fear, honest to goodness I never did. But I am panicky, I am jumpy… It’s constant fear,” Abdillahi said Monday.
“I really felt hopeless. I felt like it could be me,” she said.
“I’m shaken… the fear is not just for me, it’s for my sisters, my mom, it’s for my entire community.”
While filling up her vehicle with gas, Abdillahi said she constantly looks around to see who may be nearby. She rolls up her window at red lights and is scared walking from her parking spot to her home.
The fear has gotten so great she has contemplated removing her hijab, something she doesn’t want to do.
“For me to even contemplate that, that’s huge. That’s fear in itself,” she explained.
“It’s my faith and I love my faith. I love being a Muslim. We haven’t done anything to warrant this. We contribute to society.”
Abdillahi said action and change are needed in the form of education, awareness and clear consequences for those responsible for the attacks.
“Change needs to come from allies. Change needs to come from people who don’t have to go through this.
“We need to sit down with folks who are not us because it can’t just come from us,” she said.
“We need to sit down with them and say, ‘Can you talk to your friends? Can you talk to your network? Can you mention this to them? Can you be an advocate for us?'”
On Monday, Premier Jason Kenney condemned “without equivocation,” any attack of hate.
“Any act of violence against a fellow citizen is outrageous and should carry the full weight of the law,” he said.
“But to have the added malice of targeting someone because of how they look or what they wear is outrageous and I expect that the Edmonton police will lead an investigation and lay charges if they can identify the culprit.”
Edmonton’s mayor called the attack heartbreaking.
“And infuriating, actually, to hear about another instance of seemingly random anti-Black and Islamophobic violence against a woman of colour here in our city who happens to be wearing a hijab,” Don Iveson said Monday.
“I would have thought after the outpouring of compassion and support after what happened in London that the message would have gotten through, but clearly there are some disturbed and hateful individuals out there who haven’t got the message yet that this is completely unacceptable behaviour.”
Iveson said he supports the application of the strongest measures under law to prosecute individuals. He said the charges of terrorism laid in the London attack should serve as a strong message and deterrent.
Read more: London attack suspect charged with terrorism
“This domestic terrorism against people of certain faiths and people because of their appearance is just absolutely unacceptable in this city and in this country and in this province.
Iveson said the city is also looking at if there are municipal bylaw options to crack down on racist speech, hateful behaviour or violence locally.
“I’m furious, frankly, and this needs to stop.”
Edmonton has seen a number of alleged attacks on Muslim women in recent months.
City police say two women wearing hijabs were sitting in a mall parking lot in December when a stranger shattered a window, assaulted the passenger as she tried to flee and then assaulted the second woman when she tried to help. A man faces charges of assault and mischief in that case.
In March, a man was charged after three allegedly hate-motivated attacks on women in Edmonton.
In the first, police said the Black victim was followed inside a convenience store on Jan. 18 and allegedly assaulted.
The second and third attacks took place on the same day in early February. One woman was wearing a hijab and the other wore a burqa.
A 44-year-old man faces three counts of uttering threats and three of assault in those incidents.
“What we are aware of is only what has been reported to police. There is more than that, and a lot of people are afraid to report it, afraid that someone is going to follow them to their house,” Ibrahim said.
Police said in their email that their Hate Crimes and Violent Extremism Unit has been told about the most recent incident on Friday, but its Investigative Response Team is still handling the case.
The incidents, as well as the deaths of four members of a Muslim family in London, Ont., earlier this month, have many Canadian Muslims on edge.
Ibrahim says the most recent victim has been in Canada for 30 years, and while she’s been harassed in shops and other places, she’s never experienced such violence.
On Friday, Kenney announced that groups that experience hate crimes will soon be able to apply for grants to pay for security upgrades.
Ibrahim is calling for the bar for hate crimes to be lowered.
“So far, it looks like more or less, our leadership from the prime minister to the mayor, they’re hoping that these people will go away. But it doesn’t work that way,” he said.
Kenney said assault and hate crime laws fall under the federal jurisdiction and aren’t things that Alberta can legislate on directly. He also called on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to toughen hate crime laws.
With files from Global News.